(director/writer: Jeffrey Walker; screenwriter: Leon Ford/based on the book by Tom Holt; cinematographer: Donald M. McAlpine; editor: Geoff Lamb; music: Benjamin Speed; cast: Sophie Wilde (Sophie Pettingel), Patrick Gibson (Paul Carpenter), Christoph Waltz (Humphrey Wells), Sam Neill (Dennis Tanner), Miranda Otto (Countess Judy), Damian Herriman (Monty), Rachel House (Prof. Van Spee), Jessica De Gouw (Rosie); Runtime: 116; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Todd Fellman/Blanca Lista; MGM+; 2023-Australia)

“The YA tale is a well-conceived mishmash of fantasy, adventure, action and corporate intrigue.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A young adult fantasy film adapted to the screen by Australian filmmaker Jeffrey Walker
(“Ali’s Wedding”) from the 2003 YA novel by Tom Holt (from the J.W. Wells & Co. series) and the screenplay by Leon Ford. The YA tale is a well-conceived mishmash of fantasy, adventure, action and corporate intrigue. If you’re into the Harry Potter series, then you should be drawn to this similar type of film.

The plot follows a low-level young intern named Paul (Patrick Gibson). He’s employed at a secretive London corporation (the
J.W. Wells & Co.). The place is on a mystical quest to find The Portable Door (a gateway to another magical realm) that is missing within the building.

Humphrey Wells (Christoph Waltz) is the inventive CEO who is determined to be a game changer in the ancient magical world with his modern corporate practices, while Dennis Tanner (Sam Neill) is the quick-witted office manager, serving as Wells’s right-hand man.

To find The Portable Door in time, the seekers will need all the help they can get.

The production values are exceptional, which includes the set designs, the visuals and all the magical contraptions. It’s a delightful and unpredictable film. Also the ensemble cast all perform well. Though it’s too preachy and its slow start brings it down a few notches.

It serves best as not a serious offering that finds its mettle in being so entertaining.