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Young Jim Hawkins is the only one who can sucessfully get a schooner to a legendary Island known for buried Treasure. But aboard the ship is a mysterious cook named John Silver, whose true motivation on the journey challenges Jim's trust in the entire crew.Written by
Previous to this Treasure Island, I saw three other versions of the classic Robert Louis Stevenson story, the 1950 film, the Muppet film and the 1990 TV film. Of the three the best was the 1990 one, though all three have many good merits with the performance of Long John(especially Robert Newton's) being the main good asset in all three.
This Treasure Island I did enjoy compared to the mix of treasures and disappointments that were on Christmas TV, but I personally don't consider it in the same league in the above. I don't think it is perfect, and I can understand why some have been disappointed, while most of the camera work is good and fluid, some of it in the sped up action scenes looks odd and somewhat frenzied.
Dr. Livesey is also a much less interesting or likable character compared to his novelistic counterpart. Dr. Livesey in the book was one of my favourites but his rather "wimpy" persona here made me quickly irritated by him. The sound is serviceable, though I do agree that it is sometimes hard to hear what the actors are saying.
However, the locations are really striking and effort is made to make them authentic. The costumes are likewise sumptuous, and the music while not exceptional is suitably rousing. The story, complete with an interesting opening that was a welcome addition to the storytelling I thought, gripped me throughout and the script is witty.
Casting-wise, I thought it was fine, likewise with the acting. Dr. Livesey may have been disappointing, but I blame the writing more than Daniel Mays. It is not a great performance by all means, but Mays is much better than he was in his miscast role in the awful Outcasts, and tries his best. If anything for me, Elijah Wood was the weak link in the cast as Ben Gunn, I can't place my finger exactly on why it is, maybe the wooden delivery of the lines or the lack of charisma but his performance came across as bland.
However, while he was deserving of more considering his calibre, Donald Sutherland does a good job playing Flint. Toby Regbo is appealing also as Jim, Phillip Glenister is excellent as Captain Smollet, and while like Livesey(though not as badly affected) Trelawny is not as interesting as he is in the book Rupert Penry-Jones, ever the conscientious and reliable actor he is, gives his all to the role and it works.
I do agree with those who say that Eddie Izzard steals the show. Long John is such a delicious character to portray, but also one that can easily fall into caricature. Izzard I admit I wasn't expecting to work, I worried he would be too hammy as well as the falling into caricature trap. But no, there is a sense of menace to him, but also some humanity as well, not to mention a good deal of humour and understatement; he mayn't quite erase the performances of Robert Newton, Charlton Heston and Tim Curry, all great performances in their own right, but it is a worthy take and enough to make this Treasure Island even more enjoyable.
Overall, I enjoyed it. Is it great or outstanding? No. Is it good and worth watching? I think so. I understand the disappointment of some, but as much as I love the other three versions and the book, I did try to judge this on its own terms and found it helped to enable me to enjoy it. 7.5/10 Bethany Cox
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