By Jerry Seale
Telling a tale from classic American literature in a way that feels original and new might sound like an arduous task, but “Band of Robbers” manages to do exactly that.
This film (trailer below) presents the famous characters of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn through a modern setting. In this version of the story, Tom Sawyer, played by Adam Nee, is a police officer who maintains his childhood dreams of finding treasure and becoming a hero. And Huckleberry Finn, played by Kyle Gallner, is Tom’s loyal, childhood friend and right-hand man.
The story is divided into a prologue, several chapters and an epilogue, much like a novel, and begins with a look at Tom and Huck searching for treasure during their childhood. After Huck is caught by a police officer and arrested for trespassing while Tom escapes, it skips ahead several years later to their adulthood, with Huck being released from prison and reunited with Tom, who has ironically become a police officer. Huck wants to keep his life in order and avoid getting into trouble again, but Tom’s ever-insatiable longing for adventure naturally reduces Huck’s intentions to wishful thinking.
“Band of Robbers” features wonderful performances across the board, featuring a cast of diverse styles. Hannibal Buress is perfect for the comedy of the film, while method actor Stephen Lang excellently portrays the menacing Injun Joe. Melissa Benoist, known primarily for her roles in Glee and Supergirl, performed very well as the police officer assigned to be Tom Sawyer’s partner.
The score, composed by Joel P. West, made excellent use of motifs for important characters, particularly Injun Joe, and always helped set the tone for the scenes.
From lighting to framing, every aspect of the cinematography was executed very well. The use of CGI and special effects was minimal, and contributed positively to the scenes where they were used.
The most important part of any adaptation is remaining true to the heart of the source material. Adam Nee’s Tom Sawyer maintains all the important aspects that made Mark Twain’s iconic character what he was, and the movie indeed preserves the heart of the original story. In fact, much of the dialogue and several other Easter eggs are taken directly from Twain’s novel.
The heart, humor and fun nature of “Band of Robbers” combined with some dark aspects make the movie a thoroughly enjoyable hour and a half. Anyone who appreciates the classic Mark Twain novel this film was based on, or who simply wants to be entertained, should find plenty to like about this movie. “Band of Robbers” is available through Amazon, iTunes, YouTube and many other video on-demand services.