Saturday, September 15, 2012

Renny Harlin Week: Cutthroat Island

This is the story of Captain...Morgan.  No, not that one. Today's film is Cutthroat Island aka How to Lose Millions of Dollars by Misreading the Market.  Nine times out of ten, people don't care about Pirate movies. Isn't that right, most Pirate movies from the last 30 years?  Granted- those four made a ton of money...but those also hadn't been made yet.  This was made by CarolCo Pictures, a company that Harlin claimed was already going under when they green-lit the production.  Yeah, that covers your ass for killing the studio, Renny!  In all seriousness, the film cost about $100 million according to Wikipedia, which may or may not include the Marketing Budget.  Fun Fact: there's also a video game tie-in.  It's a shame that they don't have a Character Creation System or I could try to make Bob review it.  So what is Cutthroat Island about?  Pirates looking for treasure/revenge.  In short- nothing special.  What's interesting/bad is that there are about 7 plots going on here, most of which careen into each other as the film reaches its climax.  It's actually interesting foreshadowing for the big old mess that was the third PotC film, actually.  To find out how you lose $80 million in one go, read on...
The film kind of skips the opening you'd expect.  It's kind of an odd omission right off of the bat too.

We meet our heroine going to her father's ship, but she arrives too late to save him from his evil brother.  Oh no, I...totally know and care who these characters are.
 If you want a simple summary for the first half of the movie, it would be this: long set-piece action scenes and...
...lots of explosions.  You can just see the rent checks for CarolCo burn away in this shot too.
Yea!  More explosions!  Can't get enough of those- right, Michael Bay?
Here's the 'basic' rundown: Morgan (Davis) has one piece of the map and wants the treasure.  Dog (Frank Langella) has one piece of the map and wants the treasure.  Some dude in the British Navy wants the treasure and turns one of Morgan's men.  Shaw (Matthew Modine) is playing for one side: his own.

Get it?  Got it?  Good.
Eventually, all of the parties make it to the titular Island.  Shaw and Morgan work together again, but things go against them (naturally).
The British Navy and the bad Pirates (who team up with a rebel contingent of Morgan's crew as well) team up to share the loot.  How will our heroes win the day?
Oh gee- it's nice of you to have a ship battle.  It's only been 90 minutes, movie!  Wanna guess how it ends?
 Big explosion- naturally!  Our heroes win the day, get the treasure and go off to new adventures...that will never see the light of day.  The End.
Explosions!  The movie is not bad- let me get that out of the way.  The problem is that it doesn't really have much of an identity.  The only real 'gimmick' is having a lady Pirate.  I go back to this one a lot, but Roger Corman's Gunslinger did a lady in a Western lead.  It's still not a good film.  In the same vein, this movie isn't really better b/c Geena Davis is the star.  They get points for doing it- don't get me wrong- but I'm not going to like/dislike the movie any more/less for doing this.  The film is just too complex for its own good.  At least half of the characters have their own side motivations constantly in play.  If you want to make a 'popcorn flick,' you can't do that.  You can excuse some of that in the later Pirates movies, if only b/c they were sequels building off of the previous films.  With tighter Writing, better Pacing and maybe a bit less over-done action, this could have been a hit.  I still can't imagine that it would have grossed $100 million though.  Isn't that right, First Officer Jamie Hyneman...
Next up, a film that was shot without Harlin, but then shot...again by him.  Can a third choice Director do any wrong?  Stay tuned..

1 comment:

  1. Fun film that has all of it's budget up on the screen.