If you’re anything like me, you probably glanced at the impressive cast list of “The Adventurer: The Curse Of The Midas Box” and figured that the ‘name’ stars such as Michael Sheen, Sam Neill, and Lena Headey just pop in for glorified cameos, pick up their cheques and head off home but guess what? You’re in for a pleasant surprise.
Adapted from the novel ‘Mariah Mundi’ by G P Taylor, this is a frothy and fun ripping yarn of ancient artefacts, dastardly villains and stiff upper lips. When swashbuckling adventurer Will Charity (Michael Sheen, on twinklingly charismatic and chameleonic form) runs afoul of the villainous Otto Luger (Sam Neill) while searching for the fabled Midas Box, he turns to his old friends the Mundi family. But Mr & Mrs Mundi (Ioan Gruffudd and Keeley Hawes – who, to be fair are glorified cameos)are abruptly kidnapped and Will only just manages to save their eldest son Mariah (it was a different naming convention back in those days I guess). Together, the two of them set off to find the Midas Box and save Mariah’s family and their adventures lead them to the sinister Madame Monica’s (Lena Headey) Prince Regent Hotel on an island at the farthest corner of the Empire.
Without a serious bone in its body, this is Indiana Jones-ultra light by way of “Young Sherlock Holmes” and while the young actor shouldered with most responsibility as Mariah (Aneurin Barnard) isn’t the most magnetic screen presence you could hope for he’s good enough to keep you watching, thanks to the charmingly old fashioned adventure unfolding around him. Everybody, though, seems game for a lark and the cast have fun with the sumptuous sets and period detail. Unfortunately, the story loses much of its lustre as it moves into its final act and the Midas Box is abruptly revealed to be a macguffin of a very different sort from that we have been led to expect, slamming the brakes on the story’s locomotion and suddenly shrinking the stakes and the excitement. Up until then, though, you’ve had at least seventy minutes of adventure so spiffing, you can almost taste the lashings of ginger beer. There is an interesting twist in the coda which promises more elegant skullduggery and exotic adventure if a sequel is to be made and on the strength of this first entry, I wouldn’t be averse to a second helping.
Better at building mysteries than satisfying reveals, this is still an entertaining and jolly old-school adventure, perfect for a rainy Sunday afternoon. If you’re a fan of Noah Wylie’s “The Librarian” movies or the TV series spin-off, then this should be right up your street.