Having seen the 1990s series I was aware of the basic storyline. Clearly the book is a classic but unfortunately this is let down in a number of ways.
The special effects to start with are terrible. The Pssammead is first introduced as it tunnels under the sand (think Tremors) and it looks awful. Later the children fly and it was very 1970s green-screenesque.
Then there's the acting. Michael Caine cannot do much wrong as a voice actor and Russell Brand is ok, the rest are terrible. It sounds awful to say about child actors but for a feature film it really wasn't great.
I don't know what the budget was, but I suspect after Caine and Brand there was nothing left.
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