Mini-Review: The Famous Five 4 (Fünf Freunde 4)

As mentioned in my review of the most recent film of this series, learning of the existence of this long-running book-series and subsequent frequent television and cinematic adaptations was rather a revelation. When all is said and done for those unfamiliar with the stories one could look at them kind of like The Hardy Boys plus a pair of Nancy Drews, one a tomboy and one not, with a resourceful Lassie-like dog rounding out the quintet.

Considering that that this is fourth in a series you immediately run in to one positive and one negative: first, as its clear the actors have aged and matured their storylines and characters have as well. The makers of this series rather than recasting their talented bunch have remained realistic avoiding one pitfall the book series seems to have embodied per J.K. Rowling when previewing further Potter books “in book four the hormones are going to kick in – I don’t want him stuck in a state of permanent pre-pubescence like poor Julian in the Famous Five!”

However, the comments on the book series that seem to have come to roost are those about recycled plots and structures. More so than any other film in this series this film seems to most transparently telegraph the very thinly-veiled ulterior motives of characters leaving far fewer surprises in store for the viewer if any. Taking the story to Egypt can add a lot of intrigue and raise stakes but there is little of that and not much overly-unique in the premise here.

Not that this was ever a series that reinvented the wheel but so much of this particular installment on the face of it seemed derivative of other works or redressed self-cannibalized plot points from the past. It doesn’t even move quite as well as the prior installments.

The constants are there, the kids are all right, and there is another very capable new kid on the block (Omid Memar) joins the fray. It’s a film that could be viewed out of continuity if you wanted to, but I’d not recommend it. If interested get to the start of the series, die hards only need apply here.