Monday, March 28, 2011

Back in Time Review: Cutthroat Island (1995)

Cutthroat Island [Blu-ray]It really bothers me that Cutthroat Island is considered one of the biggest box office flops of all time because it has the same sensibilities as Pirates of the Caribbean. Was it a box office failure because the main character was a strong woman? Was it just because it didn't have the same Disney brand and backing that POTC did? Does it really all come down to Johnny Depp being wacky? In my mind the Morning Star and Black Pearl are sailing the Caribbean seas together with a very similar sense of place and goofy, witty banter.

In Cutthroat Island we are following the story of Morgan Adams, a pirate captain played by Geena Davis, as she and her crew adventure to find a treasure hidden by her grandfather. The map to the treasure is in three pieces. Morgan inherited the first piece from her father but her pirate uncles hold the other two. As you might expect in a pirating family, trust runs low and double-crossing runs high. Morgan purchases a slave, the educated con-man William Shaw (played by Matthew Modine), to help interpret part of her map that seems to be in Latin.

Since I think that this is an eminently quotable movie and IMDB does a poor job of highlighting that, a few of my favorites:

Shaw, during their escape through the streets of Port Royal: A ship! I find myself being fired upon by an entire ship!

Morgan, watching Shaw's swordplay: Very pretty, Mr. Shaw.
Shaw: Thank you, ma'am! I had the good fortune to study with a Grand Master in Vienna.
Morgan: Now, stop diddling and kill the man.
Shaw: Kill him? Bless me, we never got to that.
Morgan pushes his elbow so that the sword runs through the man.
Shaw: I see.

Morgan, while Shaw is digging a bullet from her hip: Clumsy squab. I was supposed to torture you!

Morgan, upon proof of Shaw's duplicity: Since you lie so easily and since you are so shallow, I shall lie you in a shallow grave.

The Commander's Rating: Five out of five Vulcan salutes.
Pros: Piratical hijinks. Geena Davis at her toughest (she's one of the few actresses I take seriously when she throws a punch). The good-looking Matthew Modine (much like Val Kilmer, he has a variety of looks). A likable cast of pirate side-kicks on the Morning Star: Mr. Glasspoole, Mr. Blair, Bowen. And the always entertaining Trotter (we still call out "Trotter" in the house sporadically).
Cons: Corny puns and jokes. Some of the dialog is stilted. Some logic flaws, the kind that are typical for action movies. Frank Langella was a bit too over the top, mostly scripting issues not his acting.
Recommendation: We think this is a fantastic movie for when you are hanging out on the weekend or on vacation. It is family friendly and goofy fun. We actually played our VHS tape until it broke, have played the dvd endlessly, and look forward to getting the Blu-ray soon.

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