The Lost Treasure -Average Rating
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One great thing about independent film making is that literally anybody can give it a go.  This allows stories to be told that may not get green-lit in major studios, or have the mass appeal for smaller studios to make a profit.  Once such story is The Lost Treasure. produced, written and directed by Stella Tinucci

Introduction To The Lost Treasure

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Stella Tinucci has crafted her story around a Hawaiian legend of the spear of Māui. The Lost Treasure being a spear once wielded by the mythical creator of the Hawaiian Islands that is said to contain immense power.  The Spear being the Mcguffin that keeps the film moving forward.

Searching for the Spear is bad guy Charles Wellington (Dezmond Gilla) who seems to have cajoled a couple of low rent goons, Leilani (Terry Bookhart) and Kainoa (Kava Jones) to aid him in his quest for power. The key to finding its location lies within a journal that seems to be buried in the sand on a beach (missed a trick with no ‘x marks the spot’) and looked after by the mystical  ‘Mahina’ (Angelica Quinn).  Once the goons locate the journal,  Mahina steals it to prevent Wellington from finding the Spear, and passes it to Treasure Hunter Eddie Fox (Josh Margulies) who just happens to be nearby for no apparent reason.  It turns out that Eddie is an Hawaiian native who can link his family back generations, and somehow has a link to famed explorer John Young.  All Fox owns to show his ancestry is an antique compass gifted by Young and passed on through the generations. The magical compass will help Fox locate the Staff.  Wellington sends his goons after Fox and a game of cat and mouse ensues

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The Script/Screenplay

3 out of 10

3 out of 10

Tinucci has aimed The Lost Treasure at a family audience. I found the script to be a little  simplistic in parts possibly due to the fact I am not the films target audience.  For example, in a scene where explorer Fox is working out what’s going, on he points the items out on his desk. He has a Journal, a Compass and a magnifying glass, hmmmm.

The script also suffers from some plot inconsistences. Mahina makes an appearance throughout the film, but she is not really explained. Is she a spirit? is she a witch?  A compass is  used a couple of times early on and it appears to have a magical property that is not fully explored, and then is unseen until the last third of the movie, and let’s just say the realisation of how it is actually used is not a shock.

The script suffers tonally too. Some dialogue comes across as serious whilst other lines land as comedy.  I am sure the cast had a lot of fun but It’s a film that made me laugh at it, rather than with it, so I am not overly sure if The Lost Treasure is intended to be a comedy or not.

The Script is not the sharpest or wittiest writing I have ever seen on screen, but credit should be given for its attempts to tell a unique story. With a bit more development The Lost Treasure could be turned into a fascinating adventure series.

Standout Casting

4 out of 10

4 out of 10

It’s great to think as a small low budget independent movie The Lost Treasure has been produced with an entirely local cast and crew. Providing much needed experience for all those that worked on the film.  Being a low budget production, the cast list is not extensive, starring Josh Margulies alongside his Wife Stella Tinucci. They are joined by Terry Bookhart, Angelica Quinn, Dezmond Gilla, William Roehl, and Kava Jones.   I have picked a couple of standout performances.

Josh Margulies

Josh Margulies, plays Eddie Fox.  Margulies was raised on Oahu (his family being local to Hawaii since just after World War II), so it’s no surprise to see that Margulies seems utterly comfortable on screen, running around the island he calls home. Its obvious that Margulies has acted before and provides a believable performance as Eddie Fox.  Margulies bring a quirky side to the character, some say he resembles the 4th Dr.Who crossed with Sherlock. For me though I didn’t see the comparison, I would say his mannerisms and style comes across as similar to Alan Tudyk’s portrayal of ‘Resident Alien’.  Margulies works well with the script he has been given and you can tell a lot of thought was put into how Eddie would appear on screen.  Let’s hope we get to see more of  Margulies in more mainstream work.

Dezmond Gilla

Dezmond Gilla as Charles Wellington. Gilla is another cast member that brings some acting pedigree to an independent film, having worked on shows such as Lost, and Hawaii Five-0.  However, Gilla’s performance is inconsistent as general bad guy Wellington. I had difficulty understanding the tone Gilla was trying to portray – with his outlandish style, walking cane and pointed delivery of his lines, it feels like Gilla is channelling Yaphet Kotto (who played Dr Kananga in Bond).  Then in other scenes he resorts to quips that don’t quite land and comes across as a cartoon bad guy.

 ‘’Soon Mr Fox will be out of his hole’’.

Some of this looks to be down to direction, some the script and the rest choices that Gilla makes in his character’s portrayal. This is not to say it’s a bad performance, just a little unsettled.

Stella Tinucci

Stella Tinucci as Tanya. Aside from writing and producing the film, Tinucci plays another major character Tanya.   Tanya turns up with little explanation, driven by the ambition to protect the journal (that has just been discovered?) and prevent Wellington from obtaining the Spear. She then attaches herself to Fox as a companion and helps drive the story forward.  Tinucci may have only acted in a few shorts before this film, but she finds a way to give Tanya a quirky persona that compliments that of Fox. She also gives herself a fair amount to do, from being saved from Wellingtons clutches through to tree climbing while disguised as a branch.

The rest of the supporting cast give it a good go, but their performances have the look and feel of being straight out of stage school. I was particularly amused by Kava Jones whose facial expressions whist going about his Henchman business are a sight to behold.

Sound/Music/Score

3 out of 10

3 out of 10

The sound quality on The Lost Treasure is adequate for such a production, but not brilliant.  At times too much ambient noise is present and this takes the emphasis away from the actors.  Sometimes  the sound mix isn’t too sharp and maybe bit of post processing noise reduction could have been stronger.

I did not notice any extensive use of foley used on the sound. It seems like production relied on whatever sounds are naturally created and this serves to highlight the films budget and technical constraints. (although I did notice a foley artist in the credits)

The score relies on simple musical cues.  Tinucci implements a faster score to heighten action sequences, but sometimes the music is running at a much faster rate than the action. At other times, the score compliments the superb visuals of the Hawaiian Islands.

Video Quality

5 Out Of 10

5 Out Of 10

Earl Louis is running the cinematography on The Lost Treasure and overall has done a super job.  Using a mix of Drones and traditional cameras the film includes some great looking visuals of the islands.  The use of close-up shots is also well done, with some scenes helped by Louis’ visuals, such as over the shoulder shots whilst reading the journal. It makes for a more immersive experience.

Louis also uses some camera trickery; a forest night sequence is clearly filmed in daylight with the use of some blue filters to make it look like night-time.

The choice of sepia colour grade for some scene seemed a little strange, as not all the scenes feature the colour grading.

Visual Effects

5 Out Of 10

5 Out Of 10

To my surprise The Lost Treasure manages to squeeze in a couple of well-paced visual effects. These compliment the story perfectly and are a great achievement. The small budget did show through in one scene where there is a creative use of coconuts instead of guns, that made me giggle!

Attention to detail has been paid to the costume theming,  From little cogs on Tanya’s glasses, through to a small stylised pistol being used. It gives the film a sort of steam punk vibe and makes it visually interesting.

Now sitting here in damp England, one thing that I thought was odd was Tinucci chose to wear a short skirt and low cut top in the jungle.  Surely she would have been eaten alive by jungle insects – or is this just what the locals wear while jungle exploring?

The Lost Treasure Overall Thoughts

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I like the fact that The Lost Treasure started off life as a crowd funded project, filmed on locations across Hawaii such as the Polo Club in Waialua, Makapu’u Beach, Nu’uanu, and in Waikiki and features local actors and crew.

It’s fair to say though, that The Lost Treasure is an independent film that feels the most ‘amateurish’ of the ones I have watched so far.  The budget constraints, sound quality and overall acting prowess make the film look and feel more like an amateur dramatic play, rather than a family movie. That being said, Tinucci’s story of mythical legends and being careful about the abuse of power is inoffensive and accessible for those with young families.  If you are looking for higher tier entertainment this is probably best avoided.

 

What would you give?

The Silver Hedgehog: Rating

The Script / Screenplay - 3
Casting - 4
Music / Score - 3
Visual Effects and Costumes - 5
Video Quality - 5

4

Average

Tinucci’s story of mythical legends and being careful about the abuse of power is inoffensive and accessible for those with young families

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Credits

Words Garry Llewellyn

Editor JJ

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End Credits

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Directed by 
Stella Tinucci Writing Credits (in alphabetical order)  
Cast  
Stella Tinucci … Tanya
Josh Margulies … Eddie Fox
Angelica Quinn … Mahina
Terry Bookhart … Leilani
Dezmond Gilla … Charles Wellington
William Roehl … Maleko
Linsey Bower … Bar Client #3
Alice Reinstein … Bar Client #1
Kava Jones … Kainoa
Matt Dahms … Bartender
Francois Raulin … Pedestrian #1
Produced by 
Florence Raulin Cerceau … executive producer
Fred DeWysocki … executive producer
Marcus Fiebel … producer
Josh Margulies … producer
Francois Raulin … executive producer
Stella Tinucci … producer
Cinematography by Earl Louis Film
Editing by Andrej Zelenec
Costume Design by  Betty Spencer
Makeup Department 
Cheryl Jason … makeup artist
Sabrina Z. Sander … makeup artist
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director 
Gigi Franklin … first assistant director
Blanca Larson … production coordinator
Alice Reinstein … second assistant directorSound Department 
David Alba … foley artist / sound designer
Daniela Alonso … foley artist / sound designer
Jacob Johnson … production sound mixer
Martin Pavelka … production soundSpecial Effects by 
Jason Clyde Swink … special effects assistantVisual Effects by 
Bohumil Brazda … visual effects
Vladimir Hubnik … 3D Modeling
Marek Jamnicky … matte artist
Martin Jelimek … visual effects
Igor Jonas … rotoscoping
Samuel Kraus … visual effects supervisor
Petra Nemcova … matte artist
Zdenek Nezdar … graphic design
Max Schlechter … rotoscoping
Adam Vydra … rotoscoping
Camera and Electrical Department 
Masseh Ganjali … assistant camera
Tom Haley … key grip
Jacob Johnson … Drone OperatorEditorial Department 
Peter Bauer … post-production coordinator
Tobias Hörbiger … coloristMusic Department 
Petr Zouhar … music supervisorThanks 

Post Credit Extras

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Meet Garry

An office worker by day and blogger by night. Garry is the creator and writer of The Silver Hedgehog.  A Sci-Fi geek (don’t mention Terry Pratchett or Isaac Asimov unless you have a spare hour) and avid film fan (noted for watching Titanic 8 times at the cinema 🤩).  Enjoys writing reviews and blogs in his spare time, and is waiting for the day he gets paid for it!

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