Tad the Lost Explorer and the Secret of King Midas (U)

AFTER achieving surprise success in its native Spain a few years ago, the jaunty and intrepid explorer of the title is back for another adventure. There’s a reason it will remind you of a certain other whip-cracking, hat-wearing adventurer – it’s not even trying to hide the comparison. As a not-so-subtle animated imitation of Indiana Jones, it comes off as cheap and barely has enough to stand on its own two feet.

Set a few years after 2012’s Tad the Lost Explorer – it’s set up so you don’t really need to have seen the first one – we catch up with archaeology student Tad (voiced in this English dub by Trevor White), working to pay off his college bills on a Chicago building site, far from the exotic locales of his adventurous missions.

When his eccentric mummified friend (Joseph Balderrama) unexpectedly turns up on his doorstep, Tad is convinced to head to Las Vegas to win the heart of his crush Sara (Alex Kelly), who is about to unveil her research into the legend of King Midas to the world.

Soon after arriving Sara is kidnapped by evil businessman Jack Rackham (Ramon Tikaram), who is on a ruthless search for the legendary power of turning anything to gold. Armed with a notebook Sara left behind that reveals the potential locations of King Midas’s secret treasure, Tad sets off with his mummy friend and his faithful dog Jeff to rescue her and stop Rackham from attaining that world-changing power.

There’s nothing particularly offensive about this cheery animated adventure. It’s just that it feels so derivative and slapdash; the character interplay, sight gags (Tad’s dog chewing on mummified bones et al), wacky chase hijinks and the animation style itself exude middle-of-the-road blandness even for the under-10 audience at whom it’s primarily aimed.

There are a couple of sequences and gags that raise a smirk or two but they’re few and very far between. At best this is a stepping stone for its young target audience who deserve bigger and better things, and despite its lively pacing, this is a fairly trying animation to get through.