Monday, April 23, 2012

THE THREE INVESTIGATORS IN THE SECRET OF SKELETON ISLAND is the first in the new series of German-made films adapting the classic "young adult" mystery novels written (mostly) by Robert Arthur.  For those unfamiliar with the "Three Investigators" books, take a look at the link over on the right hand column which takes you to the 3 Investigators site.  Now, for those of us who were absolutely thrilled to hear that the Germans (who oddly love the Three Investigators books with a disproportionate popularity similar to their fascination with Edgar Wallace krimis) got the go-ahead to make a series of live-action 3 Investigators movies, we have also been told in no uncertain terms what a disappointment this first film in the series was particularly.  Oddly, the second film adapts the actual first book in the series:  THE SECRET OF TERROR CASTLE whereas the first film in the series adapts a later book.  And while TERROR CASTLE has much of the spookiness we 3 Investigators fans love, SKELETON ISLAND has almost none.  This caused an almost inescapable sense of vague disappointment before the movies were actually made.  However, as I always say, I don't just a film for what it's not but for what it is.  And what SKELETON ISLAND is is no classic; however it's nowhere near as bad as the doomsayers spaketh.  In fact, it does a fairly OK job of introducing us to the three investigators themselves:  Jupiter Jones, Pete Crenshaw and Bob Andrews -- although it does spend hardly any time establishing their junk yard-hidden HQ with its beloved secret tunnels we love so well from the novels.  I also was fairly vocal in the past about a slight miscasting of the young actors playing the boys; particularly Bob Andrews who is nothing like his description in the book.  Having said that, after having seen the three young actors in the movie I can say that they actually did a nice job and I totally "bought" them as the 3 Investigators for the silver screen.  While SKELETON ISLAND is not a book I would've chosen to adapt (ESPECIALLY for the inaugural film in the series), the film itself is an adequate mystery-thriller which, while no great shakes, still manages to be entertaining.  The location footage looks top notch if slightly incongruous.  All in all, SKELETON ISLAND is better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.  However, the REAL 3 Investigators movie I want to see is STILL not available in this country as yet; lets hope Buena Vista sees fit to finally release it in the States so we can get a look at perhaps a much better filmic representation of the books we hold so close to our hearts.

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