When Sophie’s Dad can’t take her to her friend’s party, her uncle Brendan steps in to chaperone. Arriving too late for sweets, which have all been eaten, and already bummed about being let down by her father, Sophie is clearly not having the best day. When the fathers are invited to go on a treasure hunt for a prize to give to their children, Brendan sees it as the perfect opportunity to turn Sophie’s day around.
Nothing is that simple, of course, as apparently this treasure hunt is an annual tradition that has become more than a little competitive for the participants. As the group of adults wander into the woods with their crudely drawn-in-Crayon maps, the environment changes as they imagine themselves as different adventurers. There’s the muscled tough guy, the Indiana Jones wannabe, the pith-helmet friendly gentleman; Brendan seems transformed into a version of Nathan Drake from the Uncharted video game series. As their imaginations run wild, the group dodge traps, solve ancient puzzles, fight mercenaries and align, double-cross and battle with each other for the ultimate treasure.
Sophie’s Fortune is male wish fulfillment delivered with brilliant flourish and whimsy. Even though the audience knows it is all pretend, there’s still excitement and suspense to be had as the group work their way to the prize. It’s violent in that hyper-real way that cartoons or video games are violent; people are getting shot or punched, but no one is actually getting hurt. It’s a game of pretend that boys play growing up, but a game that supposedly ends at adulthood. As we see here, that is not necessarily so.
Credit must be given to the filmmakers for capturing action and adventure in such a magnificent way, and extra kudos for all the effects-work that went into each trap, ancient environment and gun battle. Additionally, it’s not always easy to create exciting and convincing fight choreography, and this film doesn’t slack there either. The tale truly is epic, and while the story is a playful one, the action filmmaking on display here is a solid representation of the genre regardless.
My only real issue with the film is its running time, clocking in just under thirty minutes. It’d be one thing if the time was full of plot development or character growth to justify the duration, but mostly the length is filled up with action and visual effects. Which are entertaining, don’t get me wrong, but if you dropped ten minutes of said action and effects, I don’t know that it would make a huge difference in the overall level of enjoyment.
In the end, though, it is a fun romp as these men imagine themselves as a bunch of macho adventurers out to find a lost treasure. And visually, the film is a treat. The effects-work, practical and digital, is incredible, and the overall spirit and tone of the piece is whimsical for content so imaginatively hyper-violent. It truly is a fun time, even if it overstays its welcome a bit too much.
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