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Johnny Thunder and the Wisdom of the Ancients is the third film in Mustache Maniacs Film Co.'s Johnny Thunder saga, after Johnny Thunder and the Secret of Marco Polo and Johnny Thunder and the Gift of the Nile. It was released on August 22, 2014 as part of the "Ten Years of Going Crazy!" promotional campaign.
- Release Date: August 22, 2014
- Running Time: 87 min.
- MPAA Rating: PG-13
- Director: Andrew Bermudez
- Producer: Andrew Bermudez
- Writer: Andrew Bermudez
WARNING: This section contains spoilers. If you do not want to find out what happens, skip to the next section
The film opens with author Dan Brown giving a lecture about the so-called Hidden Mysteries, which he describes as secrets that were an integral part of ancient cultures. Once these civilizations died off, he said, the Freemasons took up the task of keeping these mysteries safe, at which point the slideshow fades to Medieval Venice, where a Freemason enters a building.
Flashing forward to the same building in 1975, Dr. Daniel Thunder leads a band of men away from an enemy sniper that has come to assassinate them. Getting on a boat and heading for the mainland, Gabriel is shot dead and the remaining five men race to their jeeps. Out in the forest, the flying sniper breaks away, only to then attack the men with a car rigged with explosives. While the car carrying Lord Sam Sinister, Dr. Artimus Rhodes, and Block Sauniere escapes and Dr. Charles Kilroy rolls to safety, the jeep with Daniel inside crashes into the car, detonating. Daniel is thrown from the car and, in his dying words, makes Dr. Kilroy Johnny Thunder's godfather. At the crash site, Dr. Kilroy finds Daniel's hat and Sauniere mentions that Lord Sinister got away. Dr. Kilroy cries.
In present day Pamplona, Spain, Johnny Thunder, along with Harry Cane, Sarah Thunder, Lance Spears, and Prof. James Digalot get ready to run with the bulls while Pippin Reed Thunder watches from the safety of a balcony. As the bulls come charging, Digalot is trampled while the rest make it to the arena. Getting late, Pippin then meets up with the rest at Hartza Cafe, where Johnny sees Dan Brown. They go inside, where Johnny sees Jerry Digalot. Jerry explains that he is in Pamplona because Dr. Kilroy found an unusual symbol in L'Anse Aux Meadows. Dan Brown interprets the symbol as the Hand of Mysteries and the adventurers head out for another adventure.
In Texas, Lord Sinister and his men have taken refuge in Riding Crop Ranch, the home of John "Six Shots" Parker and his parents. One day, while reading the newspaper, Lord Sinister reads about Dr. Kilroy's discovery, only to be interrupted by knocking at the door. Steven Sever, wandering psychic, has arrived and aims to prove that he is psychic. He takes the villains outside, where Dove Parker is about to kill a goat. Steven kills it instead with goat staring. Patrick badgers Lord Sinister about letting Steven come and Lord Sinister gathers his men.
In L'Anse Aux Meadows, Johnny and the adventurers arrive to be greeted by Dr. Kilroy and Dr. Jim Carew, who have been working at the site turned crime scene, as Howard Rhodes was murdered. As they ponder over the clue, Sarah opens a seal, uncovering a picture of Stonehenge. Johnny takes a rubbing and gets the adventurers ready for another adventure. Captain Vladimir Sugar reports his findings to Lord Sinister, and the villains take pursuit.
Arriving in London, the adventurers head out to Stonehenge, but the villains catch up to them, chasing then through the city. The adventurers get away and arrive at Stonehenge, where they figure out that the first key is buried inside the monument. While Lance distracts the visitors, Johnny and Pippin dig up the key. Reading it, they get directed to an ancient book that tells them to go to Great Zimbabwe. They take a flight over, with Johnny not getting enough peanuts in flight.
In Harare, the adventurers head off to the Ambassador Palace Hotel as the villains plan their next move, with Patrick making comments about the price of goods. The following day, the adventurers arrive in Great Zimbabwe, where they look around for the next clue. Pippin opens a secret door, allowing the adventurers, except for Harry and Jim, to enter the tomb. They find the second portal key, but are chased out of the tomb by an avalanche of bugs. Harry burns the bugs, they find out that Romania is their next location, and the villains ambush and capture the adventurers.
On board a train, Dr. Kilroy is interrogated about the location of the next key. When John tells Lord Sinister that Thomas Skint overheard what they were saying, the villains except for Steven leave. Harry breaks his cuffs and hits Steve. They escape the train car, only to be attacked by the Russian Mercenaries. In the midst of the battle, Sarah and Lance scour the train for a vehicle, then burst out of a train car, allowing the adventurers to escape. However, the villains now have the first two portal keys.
Arriving in Brasov, Romania, the adventurers scour a local museum for clues, which gives Johnny the idea of heading to the top of Mt. Tampa in a cable car to see if his guess is correct. They head on up, but on their way to the top, they are ambushed by Lord Sinister and his men. Johnny drives them off, and they make it to the top, only to find out that Johnny was wrong. Dr. Kilroy figures out the riddle, and they head back down to Brasov and enter the Black Church. Finding a hidden tomb, they get the next key and escape a spike trap. On their way out, they find out that they need to go to Machu Picchu. However, the villains overhear.
In Machu Picchu, they head up to The Temple of the Three Windows to get their bearings on the next key's location. On their way down, they meet Gabarro, who is more than happy to show them the location of a statue. Solving the statue's puzzle, they enter the catacombs, looking for the next key. They are attacked by a giant plant monster, though Harry Cane is able to light it on fire and get past it. When they do find the portal key, ancient warrior Achu demands that they solve a riddle. Lance correctly answers and gets the key. However, the villains had stolen the adventurers' other portal keys while they were in the tunnel.
While tracking down the villains, Lord Sinister and his men ambush the adventurers. Their new ally, Senor Palomar, shoots Gabarro, who tells Pippin in his dying words that they have a traitor among them. They pursue Lord Sinister's convoy, with Lance, Sarah, and Harry jumping aboard. A fight ensues, where Captain Sugar is killed and the yellow portal key is recovered. Back on the boat, they discover that they need to go to the Great Barrier Reef.
In Australia, the adventurers dine at a restaurant named Koala Express. During the meal, Pippin takes Johnny and Sarah aside and tells them about what Gabarro said, with Johnny conversing with her on the matter. The next day, they go diving and find a treasure chest containing the green portal key, but are pursued to the surface by a fish guardian. At the surface, the villains surround the adventurers and Jim Carew shows his true colors as the traitor. They look at an ancient map that directs them to Easter Island. On the way to Easter Island, Jim Carew explains that he is part of an organization called the Illuminati, which, he explains, is planning to create world peace through a dictatorship. The only thing in their way is the Hidden Mysteries.
On Easter Island, they find the Chamber of the Hidden Mysteries and enter, where Johnny inserts the five portal keys into their slots. This opens a mystic portal, which shows Johnny an image of his father. Jim, however, sees a glowing red stone. The rest of the villains see piles of gold, except for John "Six Shots" Parker, who sees an image of his brother, William "Billy the Kid" Parker. Forcing Johnny and Sarah inside, they meet Daniel Thunder, who tells them that the portal shows their greatest desires. Daniel gives Johnny Jim's gem and commands them to leave quickly.
Back in the cave, Jim takes the gem, then declares that he would rather use its power than destroy it. As such, he shoots Steven Sever, Senor Palomar, and Rudo Villaino. Yet the gem disappears, prompting Jim to enter the portal. John Parker enters the portal as well, sending lightning all through the cave. While Jim is destroyed, John happily exits arm-in-arm with Billy. Daniel then explains that the Hidden Mysteries are a belief that love and charity will bring peace. He says his goodbyes, and disappears. The cave collapses, yet everyone escapes.
Outside, the adventurers pack up and head home. Just down the beach, Lord Sinister mumbles menacing words towards Johnny, but gets cut off by his henchmen.
Work on a third installment in the Johnny Thunder saga to follow up the then-in-development Johnny Thunder and the Gift of the Nile began as early as winter 2010, when it was certain that the said film would be a success. It turned out to be one, giving the full green light on this film.
For the third film, there were already plans to make an adventure an original story, loosely based around the Hidden Mysteries described in Dan Brown's book, The Lost Symbol. To honor this basis, one of the first elements written into the script was a cameo by Dan Brown.
It turned out to be one of the few elements to remain intact throughout the film's numerous re-writes. In the film's very early form, dating from fall 2009, it would have been based around the Dino Island Adventurers sets, but director Andrew Bermudez felt that the dinosaurs and the Hidden Mysteries were working against each other, trying to steal the show. To resolve this issue, the Dino Island film was shelved for a later date.
But even after it became a world tour film, the script was far from finished. Originally, the line-up of locations was drastically different, with the Festival of San Fermin not even being in the film. Some of the sequences that were going to be in the film, but were ultimately cut, include:
- Grand Canyon - The adventurers head off to one of the U.S.'s most famous national parks in search of the red portal key. There, they meet Park Ranger Tim, who is glad to escort them to the cave they're looking for. At the cave entrance, the key's guardian - a killer jackalope - rips out Tim's throat, but is scared away by Pippin's camera flash. Inside, they get the key and nearly escape a flash flood. Having the key, they get on the Grand Canyon Railroad and head back to Williams, Arizona. On the way back, Lord Sinister and his men attack the train, kidnapping the engineer. As the villains are forced to retreat, Lance goes up front and stops the train. This sequence eventually evolved into the Romaina sequence of the finished movie.
- Mexico City - Underneath Mexico City is the site of the resting place of the blue portal key, but the only way to access the tunnels is through the underground storage room for a local McDonald's. Distracting the cashiers and fry cooks, the adventurers find the weak wall and bust through, letting them enter the ancient tunnel. The rest of this sequence then exactly follows the one that replaced it, Machu Picchu.
- Tokyo - Going to a local cafe, the adventurers talk about how they plan on getting the green portal key. They know that it is under an ancient arch sticking out of the water, and after Lance suggests that they borrow the Deep Sea Salvage Crew suits, they make plans for the next day. Going underwater, they find the key, but are pursued by a giant angler fish. At the surface, they are captured by the villains, just like in this scene's replacement, which is Australia in the finished movie.
- Texas Dinner - After Steven kills the goat, the villains were going to eat their psychically-killed dinner, which would have been the on-screen appearance for Alfred Parker. At this point is when Lord Sinister would have read the newspaper article, convinced Steven to go with them, and ordered Captain Sugar to gather the mercenaries, which would have resulted in a comical scene of mercenaries marching around the dinner table.
As the script evolved, more omissions were made, which included the murder of a security guard at the Legotown Museum (a homage to Johnny Thunder and the Secret of Marco Polo) and a girlfriend for Steven Sever. At one point, Dan Brown's cameo was going to take place at a book signing, but was later changed to the Hartza Cafe.
The film was officially announced at The First Mustache Maniacs Film Co. Fan Choice Awards on January 28, 2011 after one year of writing and re-writing the script. Filming started on November 6th, 2011, and was completed July 15, 2014. However, starting filming did not leave it immune to further changes. When filming first started, the film ended with Jim Carew becoming superhuman by performing the ceremony of apotheosis. Afterwards, the adventurers and remaining villains chased him into the portal, where they battled Jim in several, twisted, locations from the first two Johnny Thunder films. At another point, the finale was going to reunite the casts from the first two films, but both ideas were canned as late as early 2013. Filming itself, however, proceeded smoothly.
At long last, after numerous messages asking when the film was going to be released, the film was finally released on August 22, 2014, despite a month-long delay and the fact that several films were made during this film's production.
While audiences felt that Johnny Thunder and the Secret of Marco Polo is still the best film in the Johnny Thunder saga, this installment was still praised for its great characters, funny jokes, and exciting and interesting locations. However, many have complained that this film has the worst audio quality of the Johnny Thunder films. Despite this, this film has proven to be popular.
- Continuity Error: During the entire prologue, Dr. Kilroy wears a tan shirt that is similar to what present day Johnny Thunder wears. However, when Daniel Thunder is dying, Dr. Kilroy's shirt switches over to a white vest, like the one worn by present day Dr. Kilroy.
- Continuity Error: The rubbing that is created in Newfoundland is on a simple tan piece of paper, with no image. However, once the adventurers arrive at Stonehenge, it develops a complex image that is unlike the one being described.
- Continuity Error: When the Adventurers are being interrogated aboard the train, Steven Sever holds a portal key. However, he is holding the red portal key, which hadn't been recovered yet.
- Johnny Thunder (Daniel Bermudez)
- Pippin Reed Thunder (Lauren Hoxie)
- Sarah Thunder (An Pham)
- Lance Spears (Michael Whalen)
- Dr. Charles Kilroy (Andrew Bermudez)
- Harry Cane (Andrew Bermudez)
- Dr. Jim Carew (Andrew Bermudez)
- Lord Sam Sinister (Andrew Bermudez)
- Patrick (Garrett Schelske)
- John "Six Shots" Parker (Al Bermudez)
- Dove Parker (Teresa Bermudez)
- Alfred Parker (cut from film)
- Thomas Skint (Sergio Zavaleta)
- Captain Vladimir Sugar (Daniel Bermudez)
- Steven Sever (Andrew Adkins)
- Gertrude Daiman (cut from film)
- Dan Brown (Preston Whalen)
- Prof. James Digalot (Demitrius Zavalteta)
- Jerry Digalot (Alex Hoxie)
- Senor Palomar (Wes Rudnick)
- Rudo Villaino (Nathan Crookston)
- Gabarro (Leo Bermudez)
- Achu (Erasmus Zavaleta)
- Dr. Daniel Thunder (Nathan Crookston)
- Block Sauniere (Al Bermudez)
- Gabriel (Alvaro Bermudez Senior)
- Dr. Artimus Rhodes (David Hoxie)
- Sunglasses Tourist (Marcus Hutchinson)
- Park Ranger Tim (cut from film)
- General Mao Zedong III (cut from film)
- Jing Lee (cut from film)
- Lieutenant Mong Hu (cut from film)
- Chang Wu (cut from film)
- Hiram Aziz (cut from film)
- Museum Director (cut from film)
- Babloo (cut from film)
- William "Billy the Kid" Parker (Al Bermudez)
- Andrew Bermudez - Director; Producer; Writer; Animator; Editor; Composer; Voice Actor
- Teresa Bermudez - Assistant Director; Script Editor; Adviser; Voice Actor
- Daniel Bermudez - Voice Actor; Set Assistant
- Al Bermudez - Voice Actor
- Garrett Schelske - Voice Actor
- Wes Rudnick - Voice Actor
- Lauren Adkins - Voice Actor
- Andrew Adkins - Voice Actor
- An Pham - Voice Actor
- Michael Whalen - Voice Actor
- Preston Whalen - Voice Actor
- Erasmus Zavaleta - Voice Actor
- Demitrius Zavaleta - Voice Actor
- Sergio Zavaleta - Voice Actor
- Alex Hoxie - Voice Actor
- David Hoxie - Voice Actor
- Leo Bermudez - Voice Actor
- Ethan Bermudez - Voice Actor
- Alvaro Bermudez Sr. - Voice Actor
- Martha Bermudez - Voice Actor
- Nathan Crookston - Voice Actor
- Marcus Hutchinson - Voice Actor
- This is the first film in the Johnny Thunder saga to be released under the "Drawn to Life Animation" banner.
- This is the first film in the Johnny Thunder saga to feature an original score.
- This is the first film in the Johnny Thunder saga to not be directly based on any of the LEGO Adventurers sub-themes.
- The Adventurers Amazon sub-theme's characters were incorporated into this film because director Andrew Bermudez felt that the Amazon sub-theme didn't have enough substance or intrigue to justify a feature-length film around it.
- John "Six Shots" Parker and William "Billy the Kid" Parker's return were added to this film in response to the negative feedback that Billy the Kid's death scene in Johnny Thunder and the Secret of Marco Polo received.
- Due to scheduling complications, the voice actors for Sarah Thunder, Lance Spears, and Dan Brown had to be replaced for this film.
- This film underwent more re-writes than any other Mustache Maniacs Film Co. movie, besides Forest of Fear.