What do you get when you cross Spy Kids with Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Mummy and Princess Bride and throw in the morality lessons found within Focus on the Family’s Adventures in Odyssey? You get The Lost Medallion (TLM), a movie that is slated to appear in theaters around the nation in a limited capacity on March 1. Let me explain the cross-over comparisons a bit.
The Lost Medallion is a kids adventure story (meaning kids are at the core of the adventure story) that takes you on a wild, unbelievable ride through time and adventure. It is a story contrived by Daniel (played by Alex Kendrick of Courageous, Fireproof and Facing the Giants fame) as he tries to pacify a group of fostered/orphaned children at his friend, Ms. Sally’s foster care home. Daniel is stopping by to say hi to his friend and then is headed off to a baseball game, or so he thinks. Then, when the regular storyteller is unavailable to share a story for the kids, Daniel gets persuaded by one of the foster kids to tell them a story. As the kids gather around, The Lost Medallion is the story that Daniel creates. His narration reminded me of The Princess Bride that was a story being read by a character played by Peter Falk, trying to help his grandson get through an illness. As in that film, the story being told becomes the crux of the rest of the film.
Daniel weaves in the names of three of the foster kids who he’s been told are struggling a bit at Ms. Sally’s home. He picks up on the issues that they are facing and creates characters in the story with the same name as the foster kids, Billy (played by Billy Unger in the adventure story), Allie (Sammi Hanratty) and Huko (Jansen Panettiere). Of course, that draws their attention. From that point the story comes alive.
Set on the island of Amakua, the scenery is luscious and beautiful and is where the story unfolds. The Lost Medallion, the centerpiece of the story is a magical medallion that was crafted by good King Kelli out of a headband and when inserted with a precious stone has special powers. Of course, with every piece of jewelry or talisman that is used for good, there is an evil force who seeks it for their own power. That is no different in TLM. Cobra (Mark Dacascos, television’s Hawaii Five-O) is the evil force that seeks the magical medallion and will stop at nothing until he gets it. This reminds me of The Mummy.
As the story unfolds, the medallion is hidden by King Kelli as he’s being hunted and chased by Cobra. The myth is that 200 years later the medallion is still hidden. It has captured the lifetime imagination of one man and his son. Archaeologist Dr. Michael Stone has been searching for the medallion all of his life and has passed the obsession to his son, Billy. Thus, my previous reference to this having a bit of Raiders of the Lost Ark in it. Billy amazingly finds the medallion with his orphaned friend, Allie. When an old stone given to him by his dying mother actually becomes the precious stone that fits in the found medallion, the adventure begins. An innocent wish (which is what the holder of the medallion receives) takes them back 200 years and it is from here the adventure starts in earnest, full of chases, villain buffoonery, harrowing situations and the medallion changing ownership. The three main characters in this adventure are kids, Billy, Allie and the arrogant “would-be” king, the son of good King Kelli, Huko. This is where it reminds one of Spy Kids.
During their adventure at keeping, regaining and restoring the island back to the hands of the people from the clutches of the evil Cobra, the trio begins to bond and the real purpose of the film develops. Each of the children possesses a character issue that is highlighted through their journey and ultimately underlies all of their other pursuits. And, it is the unearthing and resolving of those issues that makes The Lost Medallion truly an endearing film. Along the way they run across an old sage of a man, Faleaka (played by James Hong) whom they enlist to help them in their fight against Cobra and his army. He gives it a kind of Karate Kid feel. Faleaka is the one who provides the wisdom beyond the situation for the kids to drink in. That is where it takes on similarities to Focus on the Family’s Adventures in Odyssey. Moral convictions, friendship and character development are brought front and center within the storyline of them bonding together to defeat the evil Cobra and restore the island nation. Ultimately, that’s what makes this film worth seeing. Sure, there is a lot of fun, silliness, adventure and artistry in the film. What would you expect in a film that has kids as the main characters? Though this is not a Disney film, I believe that makers of children films would be proud to name this as their film.
The real value of this film is the opportunity for a mom or dad to watch the film with their kids, enjoy an evening together at the movies as a family and then have some great material to discuss with their kids after the film. Sadly, so many films leave nothing for parents to discuss with their children. First there aren’t many that are made for both audiences or that will entertain the parents and the children. Second, the types of issues that can be discussed for most of the films coming out of Hollywood are more of things we don’t want our children to do than positive messages to build into our kids. The Lost Medallion does a great job of being both entertaining and educational. It will give parents a chance to talk about the value of integrity, what real friendship looks like, what matters most about a person and how does God fit into all of that.
I’ll score the aspects of the film in terms of 1-4 medallions (bad to good).
The cinematography of the island setting is beautiful. Overall I give it three medallions.
The acting is convincing up and down the roster of actors. Overall I give it three medallions.
The script is appropriate for the film and its targeted audience (which I believe is probably upwards of 10 yrs. old though there is nothing to keep younger kids from seeing it, the plot and the presence of the evil lord Cobra and a couple of his antics may make it a little more challenging for younger children to follow and observe). I give it three medallions.
I recommend this film for families and children over the age of 10. The value of going with your children is the opportunity you have to discuss the movie and the issues it raises. Additionally, this is a faith-based film. What does that mean? Well, it means it has limited funding to market the film in traditional ways. So, it’s imperative that if it’s to make it long enough for its message to be seen and heard, it needs to do well the opening weekend. Bring your family, your church or a large group and buy out the theater. It opens this coming weekend, March 1-3. Check out the theater listing on The Lost Medallion website.
There’s one last observation as a dad that I wanted to make about this film. Though subtle, there is a message about the impact that dads have on their children. The father of the main young man, Billy, has apparently struggled since the loss of his wife and has neglected including his son in his life. There is a line when the two are at home that pierced my heart as a dad when the father indicated to his son that everything that has ever meant anything to him is buried in the ground (implying his wife and the medallion). The look on Billy’s face at his fathers statement should make all of us think as dads. Additionally, the fact that Allie and all of the kids at Ms. Sally’s are without dads and parents should give us cause to think about what it means to have a healthy home life. I’m sure this was part of the message but, as a dad blogger, I wanted to make sure I pointed this out and we see the impact that dad’s have. Though it’s only a movie, the message is real.