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Johnny Thunder and the Trail of Botnik is a short Johnny Thunder film that was created for BRAWL 2020. It takes inspiration from the LEGO City Jungle Explorers and Adventurers Jungle sets, but is mostly based upon the puzzle book The Lost Temple by Anna Knight.


Plot Summary

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"Stop it! Stop it! You're ruining everything!"
-Theodore Taylor, Mustache Maniacs Film Co. is Coming to LEGO Dimensions!
Spoiler warning! This section contains details that reveal crucial plot points. If you do not want to find out what happens, skip to the next section.

The film opens in the jungles of the Yucatan Peninsula in 1940, where a pilot emerges from a plane that has just crashed. Investigating the wreckage of the cockpit, he finds his associate Alex Botnik, who is bleeding to death. Alex says that he cannot endure the curse of the jungle, then entrusts the pilot with his documents that he drafted in his search for the Golden Sun Disc and the magic flower Curus Miraculus, then slumps over dead. In the pouring rain, the pilot mourns Alex's death.

In 2020, shortly after the LEGO City Museum of Natural History has re-opened from its COVID-19 closure, Johnny and Pippin safely pay a visit to the museum's exhibits. During their visit, Dr. Kilroy rushes up with an amazing find. In a donation from Ellie Philips' family, he discovered Alex Botnik's map and writings, which he says could lead to the treasures. Johnny and Pippin are elated from the news and set out for the Yucatan with a team of three other explorers.

In the jungle, they arrive at the crash site, where explorers Gertrude Dainman and Charles Farr take the initiative to explore the wreckage. Charles becomes distracted by a shrine and, despite Johnny's warnings, tries to take a jewel that is situated there. Immediately, a monkey throws him into a river, where he is then chased by a crocodile and snagged in a spider web. Johnny frees him, and they travel on to the temple, unaware that a black jaguar is following them.

At the temple, they all head inside with the group splitting up. Gertrude, Charles, and Henrie Theo find an ancient garden of flowers, where Charles is about to pick what he thinks is the Curus Miraculus. Gertrude stops him, using a clue on the map to identify the real flower. They grab that one instead.

In the treasure room, Johnny grabs the Sun Disc just as the rest arrive. With both treasures acquired, Henrie Theo betrays everyone, stating that he's actually working for an art collector who wants the Sun Disc for his new casino. Just then, the black jaguar pounces on Henrie, mauling him to death. It jumps on Johnny, but he dodges the blow, dropping the Sun Disc. The jaguar inspects the Sun Disc, which causes Johnny to realize what the curse of the jungle is: the jungle is intrinsically tied to both the Sun Disc and the Curus Miraculus, and it will do anything it can to stop anyone from taking either item. Both the Sun Disc and the Curus Miraculus are reunited in the treasure room, and the room immediately fills with vegetation.

On their way out, Johnny thanks Gertrude for her help and Charles apologizes for not taking Johnny seriously. Just then, Pippin and Harry wonder why Lord Sinister and his henchmen aren't around.

In a jail cell in Nova Scotia, Billy complains about being stuck in jail for three years. Patrick makes a joke, and Lord Sinister responds with "Patrick, shut up."

Production History

Ever since the release of Johnny Thunder and the Wisdom of the Ancients, there were some internal regrets with how the film handled its material, namely the fact that the film used some elements of the Adventurers Amazon sub-theme, then exhausted them completely (such as killing off Gabarro, Senor Palomar, and Rudo Villaino), with no hope of ever touching upon the unused elements. While the film was ultimately re-released on March 27, 2019 to fix many of the film's technical problems, this issue still remained in the air. As such, some brain-storming sessions were put into place following the release of the LEGO City Jungle Explorers sets in 2017 on how to use these unused elements, but they never went anywhere.

However, when BRAWL 2020 began on June 20, 2020, the announced theme was preservation. While reviving this concept was not the first idea that was put forward, it was thought about as other ideas, some silly, others serious, were put forward. These included colonialists threatening to wipe out a civilization, crooks trying to maintain the secret location of their hideout, two nations struggling to maintain a centuries-old treaty, and a block of ice containing a caveman thawing out.

However, one idea, a failed treasure hunt being finished by another, was ultimately pursued when the 2017 pitches were resurrected with some help from The Lost Temple, a puzzle book based on the 1999 Adventurers LEGO sets. The script was written in just under four hours.

The film was announced on June 21, 2020, with a projected release on June 28, 2020, after BRAWL 2020 had ended. Sets were built that same day, with filming being conducted over the following three days. To ensure that the film would be completed on time, editing began before filming had officially concluded.

With a slew of new characters, as well as several returning characters, haste was made in acquiring all of the needed voice recordings. Despite some scheduling concerns, all of the original actors were able to reprise their roles for the returning characters. While almost all of the new characters were filled quickly, difficulty in finding an actor to play Henrie Theo resulted in Al Bermudez stepping into the role at the last minute.

With only three hours to spare before the deadline, the film was submitted online on June 27, 2020. Due to the success of completing the film in time, it was released later that same day after the deadline had passed, just one day ahead of schedule.

Audience Reception

The film has been met with overwhelmingly positive reviews, with many happy to see Johnny Thunder back after six years. The film has also been praised for its special effects, storytelling, and its ability to capture the spirit of the feature-length Johnny Thunder films in 8 minutes.

On July 11, 2020, the results for BRAWL 2020 were officially announced. However, Johnny Thunder and the Trail of Botnik did not win any prizes or enter into the top 15 entries.

Characters

Locations

  • LEGO City Museum
  • Yucatan Jungle
  • The Lost Temple

Credits

  • Andrew Bermudez - Director; Animator; Voice Actor; Writer; Editor
  • Daniel Bermudez - Voice Actor
  • Teresa Bermudez - Script Editor
  • Al Bermudez - Voice Actor
  • Jummie - Voice Actor
  • Nick Douglas - Voice Actor
  • Jay Silver - Voice Actor
  • Jo Co - Voice Actor
  • Lauren Adkins - Voice Actor
  • Garrett Schelske - Voice Actor

Tropes

2016-11-16 17-38-56.239.jpg

"Stop it! Stop it! You're ruining everything!"
-Theodore Taylor, Mustache Maniacs Film Co. is Coming to LEGO Dimensions!
Spoiler warning! This section contains details that reveal crucial plot points. If you do not want to find out what happens, skip to the next section.

Johnny Thunder and the Trail of Botnik contains examples of the following tropes.

  • Adaptation Distillation: This film takes some basics from both The Lost Temple and the LEGO City animation Jungle Rumble and runs with its own story that loosely connects the two together. Also, many of the characters from The Lost Temple, as well as the robber pilot from Jungle Rumble, are completely absent.
  • Adaptational Jerkass: In the puzzle book The Curse of the Mummy, Sir Charles Farr, as judged by his writings, is very even-headed, though he quite frankly never had much of a personality. Here, however, he not only loses his knighthood (he's not a "sir" here), but is also turned into an inexperienced, pretentious, and snide intern who nevertheless has to be saved by everyone else.
  • Adapted Out: Since this film uses what was not used from the LEGO Adventurers Jungle sets in Johnny Thunder and the Wisdom of the Ancients, plenty of elements were excluded from this film. They are:
    • Gabarro, Senor Palomar, Rudo Villaino, and Achu are not present anywhere, as three of those four are dead at this point in the canonical timeline.
    • The river expedition boat, which was featured in the Urubamba River chase in the prior film.
    • The zeppelin, which had already been used in Johnny Thunder and the Gift of the Nile.
    • Harry Cane's plane and the trek through the jungle to the Lost Temple, which were chopped out for time.
    • The Amazon Ancient Ruins, again, was cut out for time. Also, that set was not on file at the time of production.
    • On a somewhat related note, this film uses elements from the LEGO City mini-movie Jungle Rumble, but the crook pilot and his entire backstory were among the elements from that film that were not used.
  • Adventurer Archaeologist: Essentially, all of the characters in this film are this.
  • Adventurer Outfit: Johnny, Pippin, Dr. Kilroy, Harry Cane, the pilot, and Alex Botnik all wear these.
  • All There in the Manual: While this film is mostly self-explanatory, there is one question that this film does not answer: why is Lord Sinister's gang in jail? The answer is in the short story Johnny Thunder and the Winter Vessel, where the story ends with the villains going to jail.
  • Ambiguously Gay: The details of the relations between Alex Botnik and his pilot are never really addressed in this film, other than the pilot mourning Alex's death, but the official canon does confirm that Alex Botnik is a homosexual who is madly in love with the pilot. It is worth mentioning, though, that the pilot does not see Alex Botnik as being anything more than a really good friend.
  • Artifact of Power: The Sun Disc, which has the power to grow flora. Nevertheless, it is left with the Curus Miraculus flower, as the two work in conjunction to heal the jungle.
  • Badass Mustache: Henrie Theo has a giant mustache, which covers up most of his face.
  • Continuity Nod: While not littered with continuity nods to the same degree as, say, A Future in the Past, this film does have its fair share.
    • In the LEGO City Museum, Johnny and Pippin discuss being able to go out after the lock-down. While Covid-19 has never been mentioned by name in-universe, the two films that do take place during the lock-down, The Easter Egg and How To Build a Log Cabin, focus exclusively on animals being out and about, with hardly any humans around.
    • Dr. Kilroy mentions that the documents owned by Alex Botnik, then his pilot, were donated by the Philips family. This refers to Ellie Philips, who works at the requisitions desk at the LEGO City Police Station in LEGO City Undercover.
    • In trying to talk down to Johnny Thunder, Charles Farr calls him a wannabe Jake Raines. This, of course, refers to the protagonist of Pharaoh's Quest: The Curse of Amset-Ra, but Johnny's retort of calling Jake a tomb robber also explores the differences between Johnny and Jake, as well as the differences between archaeology in 1924 and 2020.
    • Henrie Theo, during his reveal as the film's villain, says that's he's there because an art collector wants the Sun Disc for his new casino. That art collector is Gangster Folio Byrd, and his new casino eventually does appear in Legends of the Universe.
    • At the end of the film, when Pippin and Harry figure out that Lord Sinister is nowhere around, the scene cuts to the villains in jail, which refers to the ending of Johnny Thunder and the Winter Vessel. Billy the Kid also retorts about being locked up for three years, which is the actual span of time between the events of the aforementioned short story and this film.
  • Curse: The jungle is said to be cursed, causing anyone who steps into its borders to be hounded upon. It turns out that this curse is meant to preserve both the jungle and the Sun Disc and Curus Miraculus, as both sustain the jungle and keep it healthy.
  • Cutaway Gag: At the end of the film, Pippin and Harry realize that Lord Sam Sinister and his men are nowhere to be seen. The film then cuts to Lord Sinister's gang in jail.
  • Death by Adaptation: Alex Botnik, as heard in The Lost Temple, gives the Adventurers their mission via radio. Here, he dies decades before Johnny Thunder's birth.
  • Death by Materialism: Henrie Theo's death is essentially this, as his demand for the Sun Disc causes the curse of the jungle to target and kill him.
  • Demoted to Extra: Poor, poor, Dr. Kilroy, who doesn't even go on the adventure with Johnny Thunder this time. Pippin and Harry are present, but they take a more relaxed role, usually giving background commentary or occasionally interjecting. Lord Sam Sinister and his gang fare even worse, being relegated to a cameo at the end of the film (though, to be fair, this film is followed by Patrick: The Movie, which gives all of them major roles).
  • The Dog Was the Mastermind: It turns out that Henrie Theo is actually a ruthless bounty hunter and is after the treasure for his employer, Gangster Folio Byrd. Harry Cane even lampshades this when the reveal occurs.
  • Downer Beginning: The film begins with Alex Botnik dying in front of his pilot.
  • Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: Or rather, dinosaur bones. In the LEGO City Museum, Johnny and Pippin look at the skeleton of a triceratops.
  • Filler Villain: Henrie Theo, who betrays the group, then immediately dies.
  • French Jerk: Henrie Theo is canonically French and blatantly immoral.
  • Gainax Ending: While the film's story concludes with Johnny showing his appreciation for the museum's new adventurers, the film actually ends with Lord Sinister and his gang in jail, following upon the events of Johnny Thunder and the Winter Vessel.
  • Giant Spider: Charles gets caught in the web of one, though he is quickly saved.
  • Healing Herb: The Curus Miraculus flower, which has the power to heal anyone holding it. Nevertheless, it is left with the Sun Disc, as the two work in conjunction to heal the jungle.
  • Hungry Jungle: The jungle throughout this film proves to be a struggle for the Adventurers to navigate, though they later find out that this is a result of the jungle's curse, which is meant to protect itself.
  • Imported Alien Phlebotinum: Though it's never stated anywhere in the film itself, the official canon states that the Sun Disc is an alien artifact, having an origin story similar to Amset-Ra's Treasures.
  • Karmic Death: Henrie Theo, after betraying the rest of the team, is mauled by a panther.
  • Maniac Monkeys: A minor one, but one attacks Charles Farr just before he reaches the jewel in a shrine near the plane crash site.
  • Misplaced Wildlife: While many of the animals in the film are native to the Yucatan Peninsula, there is also a chameleon in the film as well. Chameleons are only native to Africa, Arabia, and India, meaning that the appearance of any chameleons in this film is wrong.
  • Mukokuseki: Just like all of Mustache Maniacs Film Co.'s brickfilms, all of the characters in this film appear with LEGO's classic (and race-neutral) yellow skin tone, even though it has been confirmed canonically that Gertrude Dainman is African American.
  • Mayincatec: The Adventurers are off to the Yucatan Peninsula in this film, which was the home of the Mayans. However, the shrine next to the plane crash looks more Aztec than Mayan, and a giant stone head like that which forms the entrance to the Lost Temple is something that is exclusively Olmec.
  • Never Smile at a Crocodile: A crocodile chases Charles Farr out of a river.
  • Panthera Awesome: The film's antagonist, Henrie Theo, gets mauled by a panther protecting the Sun Disc. The script refers to the panther as a black jaguar, which is technically correct, since panthers are actually jaguars or leopards with all-black coats.
  • Ruins for Ruins' Sake: While the Lost Temple was built to house both the Curus Miraculus and the Sun Disc, the shrine next to the plane crash site is never elaborated upon beyond being the first marker on Alex Botnik's map, and its use is left unknown.
  • Rule of Cool: This is actually the official reason that the jaguar in this film has an all-black coat instead of the more common spotted coat.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: In The Curse of the Mummy, Sir Charles Farr is described as having died a long time ago. In this film, he's not only still alive, he's actually an intern who's just starting out at the LEGO City Museum.
  • The Stinger: This film has a fairly basic one of a chameleon climbing on top of the Sun Disc.
  • Stock Scream: The infamous Wilhelm Scream is used when Henrie is attacked by the jaguar.
  • Surprisingly Happy Ending: While it looks like that either the curse of the jungle will take down the Adventurers or they will at least escape with the treasure, only for them to unknowingly kill the jungle, they instead leave the treasures, restoring the jungle. In addition to this, Gertrude Dainman helps Johnny Thunder in figuring this out, which in turn earns them each other's respect.
  • Treasure Map: Alex Botnik drew one up, then entrusts it to his pilot. This is the map that the Adventurers use on their adventure.
  • World-Healing Wave: After the two treasures are brought together, plant life fills the treasure room.
  • Worthless Treasure Twist: Subverted in that the Sun Disc is made of gold, but the jungle's curse won't allow anyone to take it and survive, since the jungle needs the Sun Disc's power to thrive.

Trivia

  • This film is the second-longest entry into BRAWL 2020. Only Of Blockheads Mobsters and Pharaohs is longer.
  • While this film is officially based on the puzzle book The Lost Temple, this film also incorporates elements of the LEGO City Mini-Movie Jungle Rumble.

External Links

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