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This movie should have done better at the boxoffice. Not too many people
know about it, but it's an intriguing modern-day pirate tale with plenty of
surprises and it's spiked with a healthy dose of black humor. Michael Caine
plays a journalist assigned to investigate some mysterious disappearances in
the Bermuda Triangle and decides that the trip would be a perfect vacation
opportunity for him and his son to reconnect after being somewhat estranged
due to divorce. They soon run afoul of a roving band of modern-day pirates
who kidnap them and try to turn the son against father via brainwashing.
Will Caine and his son escape the clutches of these scurvy scalawags?
Finding out will be all the fun!
To go on would definitely spoil some of the many surprises, but be ready for plenty of amusing action, sharp humor and some hair-raising violence (including a finale that would make Sam Peckinpah DAMN proud!) A very entertaining adventure that deserves to be re-discovered. ***stars
I made darn sure to read the novel first, before pursuing the film
itself. A real Benchley fan, I was curious about this film, as "Jaws"
and "The Deep" had both left great impressions on film, as as the
novels were packed with constant suspense. Well, I ended up reading the
novel "The Island" only knowing one thing about it: Pirates. The book
itself is a real piece of literature. This may be a single opinion by
myself, but I was in utter shock, and at the edge of my nerves while
digesting a novel filled with compelling action and suspense. It was my
smart decision to first read the book, that ultimately set me with a
certain understanding, which could have been a real misunderstanding
The story has a man, Blair Maynard (Michael Caine), who, upon working for a magazine, eyes a news story about mysterious disappearances in a particular area off the coast of Florida. Against the wishes of his employer, Blair finds a way to put the story to good use, and decides to investigate the nearby locations surrounding the events. He does, however, have one problem: He has custody of his son for the time being. Swamped with this incredible story, Blair has no choice but to take his son along the expedition. Maynard also uses this trip as "bonding time" with his son. After numerous events (most of which are unseen in the film) lead them to a small resort island, a fishing trip on the side turns into a nightmare beyond words as Blair and his son are taken hostage, and held captive by a community of rough, gritty pirates. Blair is then used as a tool for petty survival tactics, while his son is brainwashed by the menacing beasts.
The book is, as I said, very hard to digest, as Benchley endures us with sordid, if not explicit details. A lot of people claim to despise the film, with various reasons counting. Some say it suffers from a lack in character development, or a rushed plot, or anything else that has been stated. Truth, a lot of complaints are made with good reason. The film is seemingly rushed, as most moments concerning the exposition of the story are missing in the film. Benchley wrote the script, so I find it hard to believe that a finalized print as it was, could be the result of his script. Either the film ran much longer, and was cut drastically by imposition of the studio, OR, Benchley kept straight to the book, without explaining certain elements that should have been looked over. In the full picture of things, this film is both loathed and adored. I personally had no problem with it. Seeing as I read the book prior to watching the film, I can attest to the fact that it does, in fact, go directly by the book, except for some segment that obviously didn't work.This film also marks the rumor that Caine walked on the set, and snubbed a check. Knowing the character development, and specific thoughts on marked incidents, I could read into the reality, and depth to which all the characters are representing. I guess what I am saying, is that if we all read the book, then watched the film, it would certainly be more acceptable and entertaining a film. For all I know, the film could actually be seen much friendlier if edited the right way. There could easily be a totally different film sitting in a vault somewhere such as Richard Donners version of "Superman II". I doubt we will ever know about it, or if that is even an accurate speculation. Even so, the film is interesting enough, if just a little rushed in the opening. It eventually slows it's pace, and makes for a good action film. My final stand is that it deserves at least a good watch. You might like it.
Make no mistakes here. The Island, based on the novel by the same name by Peter Benchley, is far - far from being a good film. The basic premise has Michael Caine and his son, in a relationship that is strained by divorce and a workaholic father, flying to Florida to "discover" what is causing the disappearance of so many ships - in and by what is known as the "Devil's Triangle" or "Bermuda's Triangle." Soon they discover that an island not far off has housed pirates still thinking they live in the times of James I (circa early 1600's). Okay. These pirates capture Caine and son and in two days or so totally brainwash the boy to become one of them. Okay. From there things get even less plausable. The pirates do such things as take a drug ship and even out-maneuver a Coast Guard ship. Wow! The knowledge and technology of the 20th century cannot detect life on a small island just outside the coast of the United States? I really had some difficulty with the plot, but even after I was able to "accept" many of the proceedings things went from ridiculous to sublimely ridiculous. The scene on the drug trafficers boat being the zenith of this ridiculousness(or nadir of film if you prefer). After watching his companions slain and captured, one of the guys on the boat comes up and sees all the pirates and begins smiling and doing karate moves. The scene is totally out of character for the rest of the film, and one has to feel very bad for Michael Caine watching this go on. There were also other scenes which were just inappropriate. That being said, Island, as many viewers have noted, is very watchable in a this is a bad movie yet fun to watch vein. Caine does an adequate job with what he has to work with. The woman playing his pirate wife is very good, and Frank Middlemass gives a good turn as a morally bankrupt historian helping the pirates. There is a lot of violence in the film, much of it totally lacking credibility and need. The opening scene with the doctors on the boat is one such scene. The finale is also a real hoot. Thank God our Coast Guard are not this inept!
One of those films you have seen when you were younger and never forget. Good story, and great ending, I would recommend this movie for anyone who has the fortune to come across it on a late night television channel. Unfortunately, this is probably the only place you will actually get to see it, unless you can find it on VHS. Micheal Caine delivers a great performance, as well as David Warner, who always seems to have obscure rolls in movies. This actor should definitely receive a lot more attention. This is certainly a little treasure to add to your "old movie" shelf. If you have the chance to read the book, it is great as well.
Michael Ritchie's telling of Peter Benchley's novel "The Island" is a true study in contrasts. "The Island" stars Michael Caine as Blair Maynard, an investigative reporter from NY in Miami looking into a rash of mysterious disappearances involving pleasure craft near the Caribbean island of Navidad. While on a fishing trip with his son, they are captured by a band of buccaneers directly descended from the fearsome 17th century pirate L'Olonois. The younger Maynard (Jeffrey Frank) is adopted by the murderous clan while Blair is kept alive only long enough for him to act as stud for a widowed pirate wench. Can he escape and rescue his son before he has outlived his usefulness? The contrasts in this film are not so much with the material as with the actors involved. The set-up scenes with the fishermen and the pleasure boaters are acted with the conviction and style of an in-house furniture store commercial. The night scenes are so poorly lit that one might need Braile subtitles to follow the action and the ending is a true letdown. On the other side of the doubloon -- the film is true to Benchley's meticulous research into the habits, tactics, speech and appearance of his piratical villains and Jean David Nau and his crew are well acted by David Warner and others. The pirate colony is an interesting glimpse into how the pirates may have existed in the 1600's and the suspense building up the pirate attacks is heart felt indeed. Not a cinematic masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination, but for those with a thirst for adventure and an interest in pirates, this movie delivers.
Journalist and son investigate mysterious boat disappearances in Caribbean
and end up victims themselves, kidnapped by pirates, real pirates, who still
cling to the traditions of the buccaneer past. Funny how I've developed
nostalgia for the bad films of the 70s and will more readily sit through
them then 90% of the junk that's released today. As far as being quality
effort movie making wise, this really isn't so bad. The story is unique and
interesting, far-fetched yes. Most of the plot turns are equally
nonsensical, but the acting and direction is first rate. The violence is
heavy handed, and it really bugged me as a kid. But I think viewing it now;
it well captures the true brutality of the pirate mentality. The one thing
that really sinks the film is the kid. He's terrible and terribly annoying.
They overdub his voice, like they seemed to do with kids quite often back
then, and it's a total distraction. Also his characters transformation and
brainwashing, never sits right with you. You are not ready to forgive him in
the end as intended. Good weird sex, and some terrific action sequences
however, make this movie worth a look and not nearly as awful as critics
This film is a true oddity. In some ways it could have been a good
children's film, with oddball pirates and exotic locations, but
unfortunately is full of nudity and violence, particularly at its gory
climax. Some truly bizarre scenes, such as the pirate who sets light to
his hat during raids, a mating ritual involving some kind of mud and an
otherwise naked man who carries a leather pouch in front of his
genitals when he turns up on a hunt party. Intermingled among this
weirdness is some intended comedy, sometimes inappropriate, such as
when one pirate sniffs another's feet during a burial at sea. No doubt
it is things like this which has earned the film a cult status.
But viewed as an adult film, it makes little sense. This starts early in the film when a gun shop is quite happy to sell a weapon to a 12 year old boy (are US gun laws really this slack?). Next Michael Caine decides to take his son with him on what is a potentially dangerous trip (his son wants Disneyland). Next a wacko pilot (and his pet pig) take Caine and son to Navidad where they are flagged down when trying to land (no explanation for this is given) and the plane crashes. The pilot is remarkably chipper about this. And this is merely the first 20 minutes before we meet the pirates and their peculiar ways.
This bizarreness does make the film strangely watcheable.
I've always loved this movie. The first part of the film nicely details the troubled relationship between father and son (played by Michael Caine and Jeffrey Frank respectively)and helps you build a sympathy for them that then makes the final part of the movie all the more intense and gut wrenching as a result. As this is essentially a modern day pirate tale you can rest assured that there is no shortage of crusty pirate talk, filthy bodies (although the pirates wife's body makes for a pleasant exception to the rule)unrelenting carnage and David Warner,all of which add up to make a splendid entertainment! The locales are also lush and pleasing. You really have to love a film that can take such beautiful surroundings and add that edge of real menace and danger. The finale is a whole lotta fun too. Check this one out , it's a work of art!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I think I was about ten years old the first time I saw "The Island". It
was one of those movies that made the rounds on HBO in the late
70s/early 80s, back when they were still new and only had what seemed
like 5 movies they showed constantly. I can't imagine that many
moviegoers were prepared for what they got when they bought a ticket to
this movie in 1980.
Michael Caine plays a New York reporter who smells a story when he becomes aware of a particular area of the Caribbean where hundreds of boats and passengers disappear. In a particularly contrived and illogical plot twist, he winds up taking along his young son when he takes off for Florida to investigate. Naturally this places both him and his son in danger when they head off to the Caribbean and run smack dab into the culprits: a band of inbred, marauding pirates who have descended from the Buccaneers of Hispaniola.
The gore factor is surprisingly high here, and right from the get-go we are treated (?) to some bodily dismemberment by axe (including a nasty head-splitting). There are a couple of well-filmed action sequences, like a small jet that lands without any landing gear. The fight scenes, while implausible, are extremely exciting in most cases. At one point the director even manages to shift the viewer's sentiments to the pirates, delivering a very strangely affecting sequence where the buccaneers set out to pillage a passing yacht that is carrying a group of obviously wealthy passengers on a pleasure cruise, as well as a great deal of cocaine. The pirates (with a chained Caine in tow) board the boat, slaughter the passengers in cold blood, loot the vessel, and then set it on fire--all accompanied by orchestral swells on the soundtrack that indicate something heartwarming is taking place! Uncanny.
There are more than a few lapses in logic, not the least of which is when the pirates get ahold of Michael Caine and the first thing that comes to their mind is...."STUD!!" They also make brainwashing appear devastatingly easy, with Caine's son suddenly forgetting everything and adopting a pirate persona (with the ridiculous name of "Tu-Barb", no less). Upping the silliness factor, Caine's character uses up his lucky chances early on in the film, making the rest of his spectacular accomplishments just plain unbelievable.
But the camp factor is through the roof on this one, and it belongs squarely in the realm of exploitation films. The material is exciting, but very silly, and the filmmakers seem to know this. Most of their jokes are good-natured (if gory), although I was a little weary of the embarrassing plot device they used when this goofy, stereotypically gay guy (he's wearing a blousy shirt tied in a knot at the waist---hello???) surfaces to take on the pirates with some silly kung-fu moves before being impaled on a sword. But the rest of the movie isn't meant to be taken very seriously, either, like the scene where a bunch of the scraggly, filthy pirates run out onto the beach after being roused in the middle of the night, some of them completely nude (with their prows a-wagging out in front) and David Warner himself in a gray jock strap (haw haw). All in all it's good, gory fun, and yes--it bears repeated viewings. I see a DVD rediscovery in this film's near future.
I watched this movie many, many years ago, and like all good movies it left an impression on me. I think about this movie from time to time and remember it bringing out many emotions in me, mostly fear. I would love to watch it again if I can ever find it available. I don't remember to much about it, but loved Michael Caine and felt he did an excellent job in his role. This is a modern day pirate story, that seems to be probably fairly close to reality. I did not read the book so I can't compare the two. I figure that the fact that the movie has left such an impact on me all these years later, gives the movie a positive rating. I wonder if I watched it now if I would still enjoy it?
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