Road Rash Reviews

The Secret Kingdom Cinema Review***--

Cert PG | 98 mins | 2023

3 star tale of journeys to another world.

The Secret Kingdom is a 2023 Australian children’s fantasy adventure film written and directed by Matt Drummond (My Pet Dinosaur, Dinosaur Island), who also voices a number of the characters.

It is showing now in selected cinemas across the UK courtesy of Signature Entertainment.

“Many moons ago, the lands of The Above and Below were one. A young King ruled with the power of imagination so great that his very thoughts brought light and peace to all.”

David (Christopher Gabardi – Acute Misfortune) and his wife Viviane (Alice Parkinson – Sanctum, Where the Wild Things Are) have just lost their house and are moving to the home where David spent his childhood. Moving with them are son Peter (Sam Everingham – Hardball) who suffers from acute anxiety and young daughter Verity (Alyla Browne – True Spirit) who is the exact opposite, brimming with confidence.

Peter suffers from waking nightmares and as soon as they arrive at the new house he sees them again. Verity takes him over the road to look at the local shop, where a mysterious shopkeeper (Gabrielle Chan – Here Out West, Jasper Jones) sells him a strange metal object, a piece from a soma cube.

Back at home and Peter and Verity find the bed they are sitting on falling through the floor and into a strange new world filled with armoured Pangolins. Their leader, Elwin (Matt Drummond) tells him that he is their prophesied King, sent to save them from a monster known as The Shroud. Together with Elwin’s nephew Pling (Darius Williams – Home and Away), they set off on a quest, meeting various strange creatures along the way including a dragon called Mendax (Matt Drummond) and a two headed tortoise named Ego (Beth Champion – The Legend of the Five) and Ergo (Rowland Holmes – Sting).

“I smell something. I smell children. Come on young lady, let’s see you in that pretty dress.”

The Secret Kingdom is a nostalgic family adventure reminiscent of eighties films such as Never Ending Story, which tap into the childhood fascination with being transported to another world. In this case it is also designed to address issues about anxiety and fears in children and how best to overcome them, and it does this pretty well, with wholesome and positive messages.

The special effects are very good, with the array of strange creatures well imagined and animated and the backdrop of Australia is stunning.

There are some issues, the story feels rushed in places and I felt like they could have relished the ending a little more. It also seems very odd that they decided to give the mother a phony French accent, it’s very distracting.

Having said that, this is still an enjoyable film, although dark and quite intense in places and well worth an afternoon out with your youngsters.

“That’s what a prophecy does. It tells of things before they happen. That’s how we knew that you and King Peter would come. 

Signature Entertainment presents The Secret Kingdom only in cinemas 21st July

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DirectorMatt Drummond
GenreAdventure, family
StarringSam Everingham, Alyla Browne, Christopher Gabardi, Alice Parkinson, Darius Williams
Category: Cinema, film, Review