Lionsgate // 2007 // 91 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Judge Dawn Hunt // December 18th, 2011
The Three Investigators and The Secret of Skeleton Island takes up the mantle where movies like The Goonies leave off, serving up a family-friendly mystery adventure.
Jupiter Jones (Chancellor Miller), Pete Crenshaw (Nick Price), and Bob Andrews (Cameron Monaghan, Shameless) are proud of their track record: they've never lost a case. But this time around they may have bitten off more than they can chew.
After "three hard cases in a row" when Pete's dad offers them the chance to join him on Skeleton Island in South Africa the boys are ready for a vacation. But when they arrive they learn the Tokolosh, an island beast, has been hurting people who explore the caves located there. And when they meet a beautiful young native girl whose father is accused of being behind the attacks the boys put aside any thoughts of rest...it's clear they have a case.
The Three Investigators and The Secret of Skeleton Island is a lot like other movies in the family-friendly adventure genre, especially one featuring kid protagonists. The adults in the film fall on either end of the extremes -- they believe the kids are worthless or they give them way too much credit. Kids won't mind the one-dimensional adults, however their portrayal is a little much to swallow as an adult. For example we're asked to believe these three tweens are able to spot an art forgery that no adult did.
The action set pieces are appropriately suspenseful and fun to watch. The story itself is set up nicely with ample amounts of foreshadowing which should please young minds eager to unravel the case before the boys do. All in all "The Three Investigators" is a good choice for something to watch with your kids. The actors each bring their own different type of charm to the roles without falling into out-and-out stereotypes.
As far as the tech specs go there are no complaints to be had. The Dolby 5.1 was more than up to the task of the soundtrack and dialogue, and the special effects didn't rely on audio too much so the track was spared a workout. The 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen also holds up; the only issue I had (being able to notice the special effects) is my own quirk. Youngsters are hardly likely to notice.
Special features were light, merely some trailers and a photo gallery. It's clearly a release aimed at those with no attention span or patience for anything like a BTS package or commentary track.
If you have little ones who enjoy adventure films The Three Investigators and The Secret of Skeleton Island is a pretty harmless one to invest in. It's based on a series of books and already has a sequel completed, so it's something they can really sink their teeth into.
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Scales of Justice
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 91 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Rated PG
* Photo Gallery