Matt Pais, @mattpais
RedEye movie critic
January 9, 2014
*1/2 (out of four)
It's funny and pathetic to open a film with text onscreen -- "Legend tells of a powerful box that could turn anything to gold" -- while one of the stars (Sam Neill) also reads those words. Imagine if the opening crawl of "Star Wars" included voiceover from Yoda.
Of course, a family friendly adventure story actually called "The Adventurer" practically has the word "lame" hovering overhead. Adapted from the first book in G.P. Taylor's "Mariah Mundi" series, "The Curse of the Midas Box" does not actually contain a curse. (Unless I missed that while realizing that I now know what a dollar-store "Indiana Jones" rip-off looks like.)
In a part that Robert Downey Jr. would nail but never accept, the insufficiently zany Michael Sheen ("Midnight in Paris"), a set of long sideburns and an earring play Captain Will Charity, a member of a secret organization called The Bureau of Antiquities. No, these agents don't go around antiquing. The BOA protects valuable artifacts, which is why Charity wants to stop the evil Otto Luger (Neill) from acquiring the titular box. A box that turns anything to gold could make banks worthless! Though since the box is pretty small, it just begs questions like, "Why would anyone want to turn, say, sushi into gold?"
Charity enlists young but not young enough Mariah Mundi (painfully anonymous Aneurin Barnard) to assist on the case, taking Mariah to a hotel where he encounters a spicy manager (Lena Headey of "Game of Thrones") and tormented seamstress (Mella Carron) with whom he experiences what I assume was meant to register as sparks.
Making "The Mummy" franchise look masterful, the low-budget, frustratingly tame "Adventurer" forces Mariah on a high-seas voyage by map and contains stunts and costumes so cheap they should have been scrapped. The performances and lines like "Not everything will be as it seems" offer no greater value.
For what it's worth, swap in Downey Jr., Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman and anyone but Barnard in the leads and the simplistic "Midas Box" still would be a weak franchise starter, with meager hope of making it to a sequel. Mere mention of buried treasure and amulets and so forth don't automatically mean international intrigue, which your little brother can tell you when he wakes up.
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