1 out of 10

REVIEW below by Matt Usher aka Joe Pesci II

Release Date: 27th October 2014 (DVD Premiere)

Director: Jonathan Newman (Angel House / Swinging With The Finkels / Being Considered)

Cast: Aneurin Barnard, Michael Sheen, Sam Neill, Lena Headey, Mella Carron, Xavier Atkins, Tristan Gemmill, Sule Rimi, Brian Nickels, Vincenzo Pellegrino, Rory Mullen, Ian Reddington, Will Payne with Keeley Hawes and Ioan Gruffudd

Writer: Christian Taylor & Matthew Huffman



  • Aneurin Barnard: Dead In a Week, Dunkirk, Bitter Harvest, War & Peace (TV), Legend (2015), Cilla (TV), Trap For Cinderella, Citadel, The FacilityElfie Hopkins, We’ll Take ManhattanHunky Dory, Powder (2011) Ironclad,
  • Michael Sheen: Noctural Creatures, Passengers (2016), Alice In Wonderland 2 (voice), Far From the Madding Crowd (2015), Kill The Messenger, The Masters Of Sex (TV), Breaking Dawn 2, The Gospel Of Us, Breaking Dawn, Midnight In Paris, Resistance, The Gospel of Us, Tron 2, Alice In Wonderland (voice), New Moon, The Damned United, Underworld 3, Blood Diamond, The Queen, Underworld 2, The League Of Gentlemen – Apocalypse, Kingdom Of Heaven, Laws Of Attraction, Timeline, Underworld, Bright Young Things, The Four Feathers (2002), Heartlands, Wilde, Mary Reilly, Othello (1995)
  • Sam Neill: Thor 3, Tommy’s Honour, Hunt For The Wilderpeople, The Daughter, Backtrack, Peaky Blinders (TV), A Long Way Down, Escape Plan, The Vow, The Hunter, Legend of the Guardians – The Owls of Ga Ho’ole (voice), Daybreakers, In Her Skin, Dean Spanley, Little FIsh, Wimbledon, Yes, Dirty Deeds, Jurassic Park 3, The Dish, Bicentennial Man, The Horse Whisperer, Event Horizon, Snow White (1997), Victory (1996), Children of the Revolution, Restoration, The Jungle Book (1994), In The Mouth of Madness, A Country Life, Sirens, The Piano, Jurassic Park,  Memoirs of an Invisible Man, Until The End of the World, Death In Brunswick, The Hunt for Red October, Dead Calm, A Cry In The Dark, Plenty, Reilly – Ace of Spies (TV), Attack Force Z, The Omen 3, My Brilliant Career, Sleeping Dogs, Landfall
  • Lena Headey: Game Of Thrones (TV), Pride & Prejudice & Zombies, Black Plague (2015), 300 – part 2, The Purge,  Dredd, The Broken, The Brothers Grimm, Imagine Me & You, St. Trinians, 300, The Cave, Ripley’s Game, The Parole Officer, Gossip, Onegin, If Only, Mrs Dalloway, Face, Waterland, The Grotesque, The Jungle Book (1994), Century, The Remains Of The Day
  • Tristan Gemmill: Flying Blind, Casualty (TV), London’s Burning (TV), The Bill (TV)
  • Sule Rimi: Silent Night, Bloody Night (2013), Night of the Living Dead (2012)
  • Vincenzo Pellegrino: The Story of Tracy Breaker (TV), Where The Heart Is (TV), Casualty (TV), Holby City (TV)
  • Ian Reddington: Coronation Street (TV), Eastenders (TV), Dr Who (TV), Highlander
  • Will Payne: Fright Night 2, Mr Selfridge (TV), Elfie Hopkins
  • Keeley Hawes: High-Rise, The Casual Vacancy (TV), Line of Duty (TV), Upstairs Downstairs (TV), Flashbacks of a Fool, The Bank Job, Death At a Funeral (2007), A Cock and Bull Story, Spooks (TV), Tipping The Velvet (TV), The Avengers (1998), Karaoke / Cold Lazarus (TV)
  • Ioan Gruffudd: Home Invasion, San Andreas, Glee (TV), Horrible Bosses, Sanctum, The Kid (2010), W., The Secret of Moonacre, Fireflies In The Garden, Fantastic 4 – Rise of the Silver Surfer, Amazing Grace, Fantastic Four (2005), King Arthur (2004), Hornblower (TV), The Forsyte Saga (TV), Shooters, Black Hawk Down, Very Annie Mary, Another Life, 102 Dalmatians, Solomon & Gaenor, Titanic (1997), Wilde


  1. Review by Matt Usher aka Joe Pesci II

    It would be wrong to blame JK Rowling. After all, all she did was write a book. And so did GP Taylor (who also uses his initials instead of forenames). And it may well be (in fact I’m certain) that Mr Taylor’s book has very little relation to the film which bears the same subtitle. But had Harry Potter not drawn fictional breath then we would have been saved from this astoundingly anodyne ersatz adventure which has all the momentum of a mummified mammoth and the personality of a minor member of the government (specifically Jeremy Hunt).

    Our (male) hero goes by the interesting name of Mariah Mundi (interesting enough to be part of the title of the book though perhaps too confusing for the film-makers to keep it in their title, hence the ridiculously generic non-title THE ADVENTURER). He and his little brother are the offspring of a couple of Indiana Jones type parents. That should be enough to make them the envy of all their peers, but children rarely value their parents’ endeavours and so it is here, and they barely seem to notice that their parents gad about Africa looking for fabled artefacts and treasure. However, some baddies have noticed this and kidnap the family and only Mariah can save the day. Which he does. (That’s not a spoiler – the book’s part of a series, he’s not going to fail and die first time out is he?)

    We’re in a sort of Disneyfied slightly steampunk Victorian world of explorers, magic objects, secret societies, creepy hotels, child labour, infernal machines, dastardly villains and derring-do. This should be brilliant, a Gilliam-ised Sherlock Holmes meets Tintin. But as Mariah Mundi chugs half-heartedly along, it soon becomes apparent that something hugely important is missing. Charm. Magic. Wonder. Beauty. Intelligence. Wit. Excitement. Aventure. Actually there are a lot of things missing. The story, which is a pretty standard ‘will our hero find the hidden treasure before the bad guy?’ plot, is presented so drably and with so little invention that you should be cheering the bad guy. But even the bad guy disappoints.

    Former Doctor Who (who am I kidding? – he will be Doctor Who forever) Tom Baker once described Sam Neill as the most boring actor on the planet. Having watched his tedium-inducing turn as the bad guy here it’s difficult to disagree. He’s supposedly a Victorian moustache-twirling olde-worlde villain, the stuff of melodrama, the preserve of a barnstorming ham at his ripest. Mr Neill performs (if that’s the right word) with so little relish, with so little panache, with so little glee that I was crying out for one of those great personality actors –Robert Newton, Tod Slaughter, Tom Baker indeed, anyone, to inject some sort of life into proceedings – even Jeremy Irons would have been more animated.

    Alas Neill’s disdain infects most of the rest of the cast, many of whom seem out of sorts, which is odd because this is the sort of milieu which should bring the best out of performers like Ioan Gruffudd (admittedly on screen very briefly) and Lena Headey (all at sea despite having the supposedly easy and fun role of vampy villainess).

    In the lead role we find Aneurin Barnard in doe-eyed Hobbit mode, rarely registering emotion (to be fair he is playing a stiff-upper-lipped nineteenth century male teenager after all), and with nothing to do other than get out of scrapes with the absolute minimum of fuss. The level of tension is laughably minimal. Almost every scene introduces our hero to a predicament which he then solves with so little difficulty that you wonder why they bothered. It’s all ‘we need to find the secret passage’ ‘here it is!’, and ‘we need to find the key’ ‘found it!’, and ‘look, bad guys over there’, ‘we’ll hide here!’ for 95 minutes. Even when he does get caught (which is frequently), the threat seems quite moderate, and his rescue is assured. Mostly by Michael Sheen. Yes, whenever Barnard’s curiously named protagonist finds himself in a bit too much of a pickle a Deus ex machine in the shape of Michael Sheen appears to whisk him away. Sheen’s character is probably meant to be some sort of prototype James Bond, a seemingly indestructible secret agent with a zest for high adventure. But Sheen’s performance reminded me more of the White Rabbit Alice used to run into. There should surely be some swagger – it cries out for a (very) young Peter O’Toole, someone who can heroically light up the screen with but a twinkle in the eye. Unfortunately whenever Sheen turns up it’s like encountering your dull line manager in the pub. No wonder Barnard looks bored.

    About the turn of the century Channel 4 used to show mini-series like Merlin and 1001 Nights: competent, undemanding bank holiday afternoon time-wasters which didn’t look as expensive as they should have done and were stuffed with decent actors larking about (mind you now I think of it Sam Neill played Merlin didn’t he?). This is firmly in that tradition, with the important exception that even the basic story is poor. Surely the novel wasn’t as tedious as this? But it’s the lack of magic (and narrative interest) which sinks it. Magic: both in the sense of on-screen sorcery (despite a deeply unconvincing magician who utterly fails to disguise his true identity) and in the sense of it being a wondrous film to watch. The production design is quite nice at times but that’s hardly a ringing endorsement, and everything looks sterile, like a movie set in fact.

    I hope the author of the book was appalled by what they did with his story. Having not read (or even heard of) it I cannot comment on how good the book was (maybe it was terrible – maybe the film accurately reflects this), but I really hope that it’s a terrific book which has been sullied and filleted of everything that was originally good about it by this devastatingly sub-average film.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s