New on DVD from MTI Home Video, this family fantasy is rated PG. The story follows 11-year-old Billy Owens who stumbles upon a pawn shop and discovers a treasure in the form of a magical wand. With an array of powers suddenly at this fingertips, Bills finds his simple life becoming a real adventure as he faces mythical creatures, haunted caves, and a threatening evil power. Billy and his friends, Devon and Mandy, must find the inner strength to overcome evil or their hometown will be lost forever.
All of this is done with kids under twelve in mind. The wizardry is not really the kind associated with the Occult, though they do mention being introduced to “white magic.” It’s more about stimulating the imagination of young viewers. Yes, they have a magic wand, but they also have to out-think a pursuing school teacher who also happens to be searching for a hidden treasure. Then they must stand together against a threatening (CGI) dragon.
A troll (a little person in what looks like a cheap Halloween mask) makes a brief appearance and a skeleton-like evil nemesis (think Power Rangers bad guys) threatens the kids, but is destroyed by the cowardly boy who comes through for his pals.
My nephews, eleven and nine, thought the film was just okay. Parents, however, well, this would be a good time for you to do your taxes. The special effects are chintzy, the acting minimal. The message in this hocus pocus mystery has to do with the importance of friendship. I’ve seen many other films more profound in their delivery of that message. But non-discriminating little ones may find it diverting.
Written and directed by Mark McNabb along with writers Kelly Rae Irwin and Scott Jones. 90 min. Parents, beware: the ending sets up for a sequel.