The Secret Kingdom – Film Review

Written and directed by Matt Drummond, The Secret Kingdom is a family adventure film that follows an anxious young boy named Peter (Sam Everingham) and his younger sister Verity (Alyla Browne). Their family move to a small remote town where the two siblings come across a mysterious artefact from a local shop in their new neighbourhood.

Later that night, the two discover a secret kingdom below their bedroom floor where they meet different creatures, some good and some evil. While in the secret kingdom it is revealed that the mysterious artefact makes Peter the ruler of the kingdom, but he soon finds out that he must collect another four remaining artefacts to reset the great clock of the kingdom which will stop the evil that has taken over.

While I appreciated the amount of imagination that this film contains, I have to admit that I didn’t really enjoy the story. I think this is mostly due to the fact that I found Peter and Verity to be a little too derivative, so the film did struggle to hold my attention I found it a little difficult to care about the characters.

I will admit, both roles were acted well by Sam Everingham and Alyla Browne, and they were both very impressive for two young actors. But I just wasn’t invested in their characters. There are a few moments throughout the film where the story tries to take a dramatic sad turn, but the execution just wasn’t there, and it came across as feeling forced. The Secret Kingdom also has long periods of nothing particularly interesting happening, so I think that may have contributed to my lack of interest in the characters and plot.

For a fantasy film, there was a lack adventure and it felt more of a low stakes story where the characters are always safe and never seem to be in any threat or under any danger.

Visual effects wise, this film would have had a smaller crew and budget compared to a Hollywood blockbuster and it looked impressive. But there were too many similarities to the Narnia series. I also liked the way the animals and creatures looked but I felt that the human characters looked out of place. I’m certain that the cast are acting on a green screen, but for some reason the human actors look out of place and awkward compared to what is shown on the screen.

Costume wise, I liked how Peter and Verity were in pyjamas for the bulk of the film. This makes sense for multiple reasons because the secret kingdom is below their bedroom, but also the film is quite dreamlike in its imagery, so I thought that was a nice touch.

The Secret Kingdom is a film with a story that is generic enough to make you feel like it is a family adventure film that you may have already seen, showing its inspirations a little too much rather than creating its own identity to stand out as its own original film.

The Secret Kingdom is in Australian cinemas now.

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