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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.


Film DetailsEdit

  • Release Date: August 22, 2014
  • Running Time: 87 min.
  • MPAA Rating: PG-13
  • Director: Andrew Bermudez
  • Producer: Andrew Bermudez
  • Writer: Andrew Bermudez

Plot SummaryEdit

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 and that the portal has the power to grant the desires of those who love and destroy the greedy and selfish. 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.

Production HistoryEdit

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 2009, 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, with the train eventually replacing a proposed truck chase in Zimbabwe.
  • 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. Because of this, lines for several characters had to be re-recorded, especially Daniel Thunder. 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.

Audience ReceptionEdit

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.

MistakesEdit

  • 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.

CharactersEdit

Locations Edit

CreditsEdit

Tropes Edit

WARNING: This section contains spoilers. If you do not want to find out what happens, skip to the next section.

Johnny Thunder and the Wisdom of the Ancients contains examples of the following tropes.

  • Advanced Ancient Acropolis: The Chamber of the Hidden Mysteries is this.
  • Advanced Ancient Humans: Well, society in the past had to be advanced enough to construct a device like the Portal of the Hidden Mysteries.
  • Adventurer Archaeologist: The character of Johnny Thunder.
  • Adventurer Outfit: Almost all of the main heroes and villains wear variations of these. Lance Spears, Dr. Jim Carew, John Parker, Steven Sever, Thomas Skint, and Captain Vladimir Sugar outright subvert this, however.
  • Agent Scully: Dove Parker, despite seeing Steven stare a goat to death, is not convinced that he's actually psychic. It turns out that she's right.
  • All There in the Manual: Between Johnny Thunder and the Gift of the Nile and this film, the adventurers and the Deep Sea Salvage Crew teamed up for an adventure in the Bahamas, which is why Sarah is dating Lance in this film. It's entirely covered in the web comic series Tales of the Adventurers.
  • The Amazon: The setting for the Machu Picchu segment.
  • Beneath the Earth: Most of the portal keys are hidden in underground tombs. Even the Chamber of the Hidden Mysteries is hidden underground.
  • Bland Name Product: Koala Express is this.
  • Bold Explorer: The adventurers fit this trope, even if they do visit widely-known locations.
  • Butt-Monkey: The character of Patrick Hooligans.
  • Cable-Car Action Sequence: An entire battle takes place with a cable car that is carrying the adventurers to the top of Mt. Tampa.
  • Canon Welding: Lance Spears, who previously appeared in Wonders of Buoyancy, was introduced with the adventurers on-screen through this film.
  • Cobweb Jungle: The tomb beneath Great Zimbabwe is covered in cobwebs. Lance even comments on this while they explore the catacombs.
  • Continuity Nod: The film has some allusions to past and future events, as listed below.
    • The skeleton that Patrick inspects at the entrance to the Chamber of the Hidden Mysteries is that of Roger Goodman, protagonist of Jolly Roger and the Pirate Queen, who died on his own quest to find the Hidden Mysteries.
    • One of the associates of Dr. Daniel Thunder in the prologue is Block Sauniere, the man who would later be murdered at the beginning of Johnny Thunder and the Secret of Marco Polo.
    • Sarah dating Lance is itself a reference to Tales of the Adventurers.
    • Dan Brown mentions that he knows Johnny, since he joined him on the expedition in Johnny Thunder and the Secret of Marco Polo.
    • Outside Riding Crop Ranch's house is a cross with a cowboy hat. This references Billy the Kid's death in Johnny Thunder and the Secret of Marco Polo.
    • At L'Anse Aux Meadows, Johnny uses the stationary that he picked up in Johnny Thunder and the Gift of the Nile to take a rubbing.
    • On the airplane, he mentions that the murder of Howard Rhodes (brother to Prof. Samantha Rhodes) was just like how Robert Teabing murdered Block Sauniere in Johnny Thunder and the Secret of Marco Polo.
    • Outside of Koala Express, Steven Sever reads a newspaper about the second pod landing, continuing the pod arc that started with A Friend of the Police. The newspaper article is also the same one that Clude Uswik reads in Solarum.
    • The reason that the villains have a jungle cutter in their arsenal is because they took it from Charlie Flagton during the events of Tales of the Adventurers. The comics explicitly show its theft.
  • Cool Train: Lord Sinister and his men use one in Zimbabwe. It's not only a reuse of a train made for the cancelled film Making Tracks, but it's also inspired by the Wildlife Express Train at Disney's Animal Kingdom.
  • Deadpan Snarker: The character of Pippin Reed Thunder.
  • Durable Deathtrap: There are some in this film, such as the spiked ceiling in the Black Church catacombs, but this is averted in Machu Picchu, where the plant monster's growth has destroyed the traps.
  • Eenie, Meenie, Miny Moai: The Moai are what allow Johnny to find the entrance to the Chamber of the Hidden Mysteries.
  • Everything's Better with Monkeys: A pack of monkeys saves Sarah Thunder from the villains.
  • Eldritch Location: The inside of the Portal of the Hidden Mysteries.
  • Fish People: One appears in the Great Barrier Reef.
  • Gratuitous Ninja: Thomas Skint dresses up as one to ambush the adventurers.
  • The Illuminati: Both Dr. Jim Carew and Steven Sever are members of this group, which is trying to take over the world, but doesn't have as much influence as most conspiracy theorists think.
  • Island of Mystery: Easter Island is this.
  • Love You and Everybody: This is essentially the treasure.
  • Man-Eating Plant: The Machu Picchu sequence has one that the adventurers fight.
  • Mayincatec: Even though he is underground in Machu Picchu, Achu's dress looks more Aztec-inspired than Incan.
  • Mischief Making Monkey: Several monkeys help Sarah get away from the villains.
  • The Mole: Both Dr. Jim Carew and Steven Sever were working for the Illuminati.
  • Native Guide: The character of Gabarro.
  • Noisy Nature: Wherever the characters go, animals are always vocalizing.
  • One World Order: This is what the Illuminati is trying to achieve.
  • Plot Coupon: The portal keys are this.
  • Private Military Contractor: Lord Sinister has both Russian mercenaries and a South American cartel on his payroll.
  • Rewarding Vandalism: While the adventurers dig up the ground of international landmarks, smash the floor in at ancient churches, and trash up significant sites, they receive no repercussions for their behavior. Johnny does say that it does weigh down on his conscious, though.
  • Ruins for Ruins' Sake: There are a lot of ancient sites that the adventurers travel to. Not all of them are in ruins, however.
  • Shout-Out: Being a Mustache Maniacs Film Co. film, there are many.
    • Sarah's vine-swinging sequence is directly based off of a similar scene in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Harry even ends the sequence with needing to owe George Lucas an apology.
    • When Jim Carew asks where he was while on the airplane, Harry responds with, "Australia." It's not just because they literally were in Australia before they took off, it's also a reference to The Princess Bride.
    • On the African Train, Lord Sinister quotes one of Hermione's lines from Kilroy Was Here!.
    • The entire premise is very similar to the LEGO Atlantis story line, but above water.
    • Steven Sever's entire shtick is that has is allegedly psychic. He proves that he is psychic by killing a goat with goat staring, in a manner reminiscent of The Men Who Stare at Goats.
  • Temple of Doom: Every secret chamber that the adventurers explore is some form of this. The booby traps contained within vary depending on the location.
  • Toros y Flamenco: The adventurers are vacationing in Pamplona, Spain at the beginning of the film.
  • Vine Swing: Sarah Thunder does this at the end of the jungle chase to get back to the boat.

Hidden Images Edit

  • Hidden Character: When Dan Brown walks up to the podium before his lecture, a portion of the Atlantis Golden King is visible as a statue set up in the lecture hall.
  • Stagehand Visible: When we first see the two jeeps drive through the forest, an on-set fireman is visible behind the trees to the left side of the frame.
  • Stagehand Visible: When Dr. Kilroy picks up Daniel Thunder's hat, the assistant director can be seen peering from behind a group of trees. Look quickly, because he ducks away before the shot ends.
  • Stagehand Visible: When the bulls are first seen charging down the street, the on-set doctor is standing behind a guard rail. Two shots later, he is seen treating a man in the street.
  • Stagehand Visible: When the crowd is first seen running through the bull-fighting arena, a grip with a large spotlight is visible near the top of the frame.
  • Hidden Character: One of the patrons in the arena is Digger from LEGO Dino Attack.
  • Special Prop: One of the bottles inside Hartza Cafe is the Samuel Adams Bottle from Johnny Thunder and the Secret of Marco Polo.
  • Hidden Character: One of the patrons inside Hartza Cafe is the Small Clown Collectible Minifigure.
  • Special Prop: The newspaper that Patrick reads in the ranch house is The Daily Prophet.
  • Stagehand Visible: When the rental van pulls up to the Newfoundland excavation site, the assistant director is looking at the body of Howard Rhodes.
  • Hidden Character: In the first shot of the gates to Buckingham Palace, one of the people outside is the Detective Collectible Minifigure.
  • Hidden Character: As Lord Sinister and Patrick get away with the map, one of the people on the sidewalk is the Bagpiper Collectible Minifigure.
  • Hidden Character: One of the people that can be seen at the London intersection is the Businessman Collectible Minifigure.
  • Hidden Character: At Harare Airport, one of the people in the terminal is the Pilot Collectible Minifigure. He's near the right side of the shot.
  • Stagehand Visible: In the same shot, a production assistant is seen going through a doorway behind the currency exchange desk.
  • Special Prop: One of the vendors in the terminal is selling the microfigures from LEGO Games. It's visible when the villains are talking, especially Patrick.
  • Stagehand Visible: As the bus pulls up to the bus stop in Brasov, a studio crew member can be briefly seen resting against the wall.
  • Hidden Character: While Sarah and Lance are browsing the gift shop, the Lederhosen Guy is standing on the sidewalk in the background.
  • Stagehand Visible: While the Cane Airlines plane is refueling in Casablanca, a pyrotechnics expert is seen behind the plane to the left, supervising the action.
  • Stagehand Visible: Right before the adventurers go inside the tunnels beneath Machu Picchu, they talk. While they talk, a grip can be seen running off, as he realizes he's on camera.
  • Hidden Character: When the camera looks at the front of Koala Express, one of the people standing outside is Agent Chase from LEGO Agents.
  • Stagehand Visible: In the same shot, a production assistant can be seen inside the restaurant through a window.
  • Stagehand Visible: When Senor Palomar and Rudo Villaino look into the portal, a camera dolly zips across the chamber floor.

TriviaEdit

  • 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. However, there is talk of the possibility of doing a film based on said sub-theme in the future.
  • 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. They then retroactively played these characters for the special editions of the first two films.
  • This film underwent more re-writes than any other Mustache Maniacs Film Co. movie, besides Forest of Fear.

GalleryEdit

External LinksEdit