The Aisle Seat - Movie Reviews by Mike McGranaghan
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THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan


The Curse of the Midas Box

The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box could somewhat aptly be described as National Treasure in Victorian England. That is to say, it has that distinct feeling of being a tenth-generation ripoff of Raiders of the Lost Ark. You've seen movies like this before. They involve ancient artifacts, secret compartments in underground crypts, booby traps, and so on. Those things can be fun even when they're recycled, and they offer a few amusing moments here, as well. The Adventurer is watchable, but bland and uninspired, which I'm guessing is not what they were going for.

Aneurin Bardard plays Mariah Mundi, a teenage boy whose parents and brother have been kidnapped by the sinister artifact pillager Otto Luger (Sam Neill). A family associate, Will Charity (Michael Sheen), enlists Mariah to help find Luger, who has just purchased the remote Prince Regent Hotel. Charity believes that he may have located the Midas Box, rumored to turn anything placed within it into gold. Together they infiltrate the hotel, with Mariah posing as a bellboy and Charity masquerading as a magician. Of course, the box is there, and also of course, it has other powers initially unknown to our heroes. To make it work, Luger needs the second half of a medallion that happens to be around Mariah's neck. He and his henchwoman, Monica (Lena Headey), scheme to get it once they realize the boy's true identity. Fortunately, before being kidnapped, Mariah's mother whispers a riddle into his ear so he can spend the rest of the movie figuring out how to defeat someone like Luger. So much easier than simply telling him what kind of danger he's in and how to avoid it, right?

The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box is a movie of only surface pleasures. Sam Neill has fun chewing the scenery as the villain, while Michael Sheen gets to play not only Will Charity, but also Charity's magician alter ego, the goofiest prestidigitator this side of Penn & Teller. The veteran actors appear to be having a blast with their roles, and that makes their scenes the best in the movie. You'll also find a couple of inventive ideas, most notably a scene in which the whereabouts of Mariah's brother are revealed via an impromptu Zoetrope made of fortune telling cards. One scene in the third act, involving people being sucked underground, is even a little bit creepy.

Go deeper, though, and you'll see that there isn't much here you haven't seen before. The Adventurer is distressingly formulaic, unfolding its plot in a manner that reminds you not only of Indiana Jones and National Treasure, but also things like Tomb Raider, The Da Vinci Code, and even The Goonies. However, it does so without the panache of (most of) those pictures. You know at all times what's going to happen before it does, so you sit there waiting for the people on screen to catch up. A film of this sort is supposed to be a rousing adventure. Because it's more or less just going through the paces, this one is never especially thrilling, even when the most dramatic events are taking place.

The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box ends with the obligatory sequel set-up. I doubt there will be one, but if so, here's hoping it contains a little more spark than this inoffensive, yet generic, original.

( out of four)

The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box is rated PG for adventure action and violence, some peril and brief smoking. The running time is 1 hour and 36 minutes.

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