Deserted by their father and with their mother dead, nine-year-old Pablo and his little sister Maria refuse to be separated from each other by their caretaker aunt. With a cross as their ...
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Deserted by their father and with their mother dead, nine-year-old Pablo and his little sister Maria refuse to be separated from each other by their caretaker aunt. With a cross as their guide, they embark on a perilous, but ultimately rewarding adventure in search of a mystical gem that holds the key to happiness. They escape the fearsome metal hook of a pirate and are helped by a delightfully drunken Captain in their quest for the magic stone. Written by
I remember catching this film on the Disney Channel years ago (before they showed commercials!) with my mother. We instantly fell in love with it. While certainly not an Oscar winner, this a sweet, heartfelt family film that brings back the fun and adventure that films no long posess. Strangely enough, from what I've read, this film is completely Spanish, yet is spoken in English.
Below I will include the beginning of the film, so if you consider this a "spoiler," skip ahead.
*** The story is set in (of course) Spain. Pablo and his sister, Maria, who seem rather out of place as Spaniards with British accents (which includes a touch of Cockney here and there!) are being brought up by a Mrs. Danvers-like woman who cares for them and their mother, Isabela, who is terminally bedridden. She gives her son Pablo a silver necklace of the Virgin Mary. (Yes, another movie with Catholicism.. Remember, this is a SPANISH film, and religion is a major part of their culture.) Isabela tells Pablo that her husband gave it to him before leaving her. She relates other details that come out later. After a brief conversation, Pablo emotes (he's not Haley Joel Osment, ok?) that he will take care of both of them. The mother dies. Whether it's from her unknown illness or from bad acting, we shall never know.
Of course, there is the funeral (done in Spanish, appropriately). The children spy a strange old man with a white beard below them on a knoll smiling at them. Think a slender Santa Claus.
Pablo and Maria are next seen in bed together, crying. The Mrs. Danver look-alike (and she does look eerily like Judith Anderson from some angles!) comes in and tells the brats to shut up. She's you're favorite evil aunt. Pablo steals downstairs later to fetch a glass of water for Maria and overhears her saying that she plans to send the boy to the country to do work and become "a man," while keeping Maria with her. She does this while plucking a chicken, which I found amusing.
Pablo races upstairs and commands Maria to prepare to leave. They escape and a faint effortless, "Children!" is heard. They escape onto a train and see the mysterious old man. He talks to them and tells them the story of the Crystalstone, a diamond (which looks more like a giant salt crystal) that a naughty Spaniard stole from the Mexican-Indians in the 1500s. This is a child's fantasy, so we don't question the ineffectual guards whom the Spaniard kills in the "flashback" sequence. Why Mexican-Indians would WANT this stone is not worth questioning either. It's a fun movie, not a thinking movie.
Anyway, they hear this story, and see a wooden cross hanging from the boxcar's ceiling when they wake up the next day. They get off the train and head into town. Of course, they immediately view a murder by, of course, a man with a hooked hand. He is listed in the credits as "Hook." Eat your heart out, Dustin Hoffman! For the worried parents - no need to be. You see no violence. Just the shadows.
So starts a series of adventures.
The movie has shortcomings, yes. But it's a child's fantasy and should be viewed as such. Overall, I give it ***1/2 out of five stars. Not the worst, but not the best. Some characters are very hard to believe. As far as "naughty" content, one character, El Capitan, is a drunk. But he "learns the error of his ways" in the end and changes his behavior. As mentioned above, Hook kills a character in the beginning and ...
****SPOILER********* dies by falling off of a cliff, yelling. No blood or gore, but you know he dies. However, he's a really nasty guy, trying to kill the poor kids and all. ;-) *****END OF SPOILER****
The camera sees a touch of blood on Hook's victim. You also see quite a few skeletons in a few scenes, but they aren't displayed in a horrifying way. They're just bones in a crypt.
Also, the kids dig up Hook's victim, and they leave his body sitting upright after being scared away by it. He has some nasty little bugs buzzing around his eyes. He plops rather humorously (and noiselessly, mind you)against the back of his coffin.
All in all, this is a rather tame film that can be viewed by the entire family. As I said, I give it 3.5/5 stars. Give it a try. It will be almost nostalgic for some of you. :)
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