"The tongue-in-cheek script, clichés and ham acting are all obvious flaws, but in all honesty, these can be forgiven"

It isn’t often that the job of a film reviewer is done by a ten-year old actor with a line of dialogue that sums up the opening few frames of the picture – ‘It’s so boring!’ cries young Felix Mundi (Xavier Atkins). Happily, however, the boredom subsides and this fantasy adventure, based on G.P. Taylor’s Mariah Mundi novel, finally gains some much needed pace and direction. As it turns out, it’s rather enjoyable.

Intended to be the first offering of a film franchise, The Curse of the Midas Box centres around the young, helpless, yet resourceful, Mariah Mundi (Aneurin Barnard) who is forced to unite with the enigmatic and eccentric Captain Will Charity (Michael Sheen) when his parents and younger brother are kidnapped in mysterious circumstances.

Mariah’s journey takes him to the regal and majestic, yet darkly mysterious steam-powered Prince Regent Hotel on a small island and it is here, with Charity’s help, that he must unravel the secrets behind the disappearance of his family and more importantly, prevent the villainous Otto Luger (Sam Neill) from getting his hands on the mystical and powerful Midas Box, which – yes, you guessed it – could destroy the world!

The tongue-in-cheek script, clichés and ham acting are all obvious flaws, but in all honesty, these can be forgiven. They do not detract from the enjoyment and quality of the picture and in some aspects, increase the experience. The camera work and grey, gritty colour palette captures Victorian London in all its squalor yet the shoddy editing lets the film down badly. It jumps around sporadically from one scene to another making it difficult for an already weak script to flow and have any kind of cohesive quality.

Casting is good. The actors are good. But some are not used enough to show off their talents. Keeley Hawes (Ashes to Ashes) and Lena Headey (Game of Thrones) are simply not given enough licence to express and impress. They are limited to very few scenes but do a good job with the little time they have.

Sheen (The Damned United, Frost/Nixon) relishes his role. Yes, it is cringe-worthy, but he adds a nice touch of comic relief which is always a treat regardless of the film genre. He is reminiscent of a pre-talkie Douglas Fairbanks, mugging to the camera, oozing charm and menace. Barnard, as a lead actor is a little out of his comfort zone, but is only young and based on his other work (Cilla), not to mention his stage credentials, the young Welshman has a bright future on screen.

The addition of Sam Neill (Jurassic Park, Omen III), is a puzzling, yet justified choice. He gives the film a dark, Machiavellian feel and although some aspects of performance touch on stereotype and cliché, his scheming and amoral nature is a direct antithesis of Mariah’s goodness and innocence.

Some words of caution now dear reader: Do NOT turn off until the credits have rolled, for there is a twist in the tale, and probably one that few saw coming. Nicely set up for part two!