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Since film reviewers who dare to criticize faith-based films are usually declared to be godless heathens, we might as well throw caution to the winds by immediately declaring that The Lost Medallion: The Adventures of Billy Stone is not a very good movie. Designed as a family film adventure promoting positive values, it’s a sort of teenage Raiders of the Lost Ark that will provide mild diversion for very young audiences. Currently receiving a limited theatrical release, it will find its biggest following on home video.
Utilizing as a framing device a story told by a visitor to a foster home (played by Alex Kendrick, the Georgia pastor responsible for such faith-based hits as Facing the Giants, Fireproof and Courageous), the film depicts the adventures of 13-year-olds Billy (Billy Unger) and Allie (Sammi Hanratty) as they pursue a magical medallion that’s been lost for centuries. When they manage to uncover it, they find themselves transported back in time to an island ruled by Cobra (Mark Decascos), an evil warlord desperate to use the medallion’s powers to further his nefarious ends.
Joined by a young island king (Jansen Pantierre, brother of Hayden), his best friend (William Corkery) and a wise, Mr. Miyagi-type mentor (James Hong), the kids go through a series of convoluted cliffhanger-style tropical adventures fully exploiting the scenic Thailand locations.
Until some overt moralizing at the conclusion, the film delivers its inspirational messages lightly. But taken purely on adventure film terms, it suffers from haphazard plotting, ham-fisted dialogue and overly broad performances, at least from the adult cast members (the kids actually fare pretty well). Making his feature debut, director/screenwriter Bill Muir fails to infuse the proceedings with sufficient verve to make kids want to forgo their oft-viewed DVD copies of The Goonies. Well-intentioned but bland and forgettable, The Lost Medallion demonstrates that children’s films are best not left to amateurs.
Opened March 1 (MeThinx Entertainment)
Production: Wooden Door
Cast: Alex Kendrick, James Hong, Mark Dascascos, Billy Unger, Sammi Hanratty, Jansen Panetiere
Director/screenwriter: Bill Muir
Producers: Mark Burman, Bobby Downes, Kevin Downes, Wych Kaosayananda, Philip Moses, Bill Muir, Michael Scott
Executive producer: John Duke
Director of photography: Brian Baugh
Editors: David de Vos, James Foster, Philip Moses
Production designer: Mona Nahm
Costume designer: Chantika Kongsillawat
Composers: Marc Fantini, Steffan Fantini
Rated PG, 97 min.
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