Film Review: Tad The Lost Explorer And The Secret Of King Midas
Computer animated Tad The Lost Explorer And The Secret Of King Midas is a briskly paced Indiana Jones-style romp that will mostly appeal to younger audiences while still managing to be mildly enjoyable for grown-ups, writes Damon Smith
THE wisecracking, adventurous spirit of Indiana Jones runs amok in Spanish co-directors Enrique Gato and David Alonso's computer-animated romp, which has been dubbed into English for undemanding viewers in the Anglophone world.
Tad The Lost Explorer And The Secret Of King Midas is a gently effervescent sequel to a 2012 film, which was never released in the UK and established simmering romantic tension between the lead characters and a back story connecting the eponymous hero to an infuriatingly chatty Incan mummy.
Audiences for the second film are expected to be versed in these sinewy personal connections but ignorance doesn't impact greatly on mild enjoyment for Gato and Alonso's fast-paced and freewheeling escapade.
Animation is solid and bursts with colour, punctuated by breathlessly staged action sequences, but lacks the golden touch of the titular monarch or the exquisite attention to detail mastered by the digital wizards at Pixar and DreamWorks.
Vocal performances are suitably energetic, running the gamut of bumbling hero, brash comedic sidekick and scenery-chewing pantomime villain.
The lost explorer of the unwieldy title is construction worker Tad Jones (voiced by Trevor White), who fantasises about a life of archaeological discovery alongside the object of his affections, globe-trotting explorer Sara Lavrof (Alex Kelly).
He hopes to present Sara with a necklace as a symbol of his amour but old acquaintance Mummy (Joseph Balderrama), who has been banished from the Incan city of Paititi, casts scorn on that gesture.
"I'm not sure how to tell you this, Tad, but she's a little out of your league," confides the bandaged, decaying misfit. "She's a 10 and you're a 2!"
Unperturbed, Tad, Mummy and trusty pooch Jeff drive to Las Vegas, where Sara is due to deliver a lecture entitled Midas: Myth Or Truth and unveil an ancient papyrus that confirms the existence of the mythical monarch's magic collar.
The speech is interrupted by snarling scoundrel Jack Rackham (Ramon Tikaram) and his henchwoman (Gemma Whelan), who kidnap Sara and the papyrus.
Tad gives chase with Sara's plucky assistant Tiffany (Whelan again) and Belzoni the mischievous bird in order to prevent Rackham from reassembling scattered pieces of the collar.
"The power of the gods does not belong in the hands of the mortals," grimly intones Sara.
Tad The Lost Explorer And The Secret Of King Midas is briskly paced at a whip crack under 90 minutes, replete with a shameless steal from Disney's Beauty And The Beast.
Mummy quickly grates on our nerves, babbling incessantly to fill welcome silences.
"Dead tongues are my speciality," he drolly quips during the treasure hunt.
Young children will be amused by the feud between creature cohorts Jeff and Belzoni, which culminates in the feathered fiend scrawling on the slumbering mutt's face with permanent marker.
Regrettably, the film doesn't make the same indelible impression.
TAD THE LOST EXPLORER AND THE SECRET OF KING MIDAS (U, 85 mins) Animation/Action/Adventure/Romance/Comedy. Featuring the voices of Trevor White, Alex Kelly, Joseph Balderrama, Ramon Tikaram, Gemma Whelan. Directors: Enrique Gato, David Alonso
Released: February 9 (UK & Ireland)