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David Warner leads a band of modern day pirates who raid yachts and sail boats of people on vacation out in the Caribbean. Michael Caine is a reporter who goes out there with his son to investigate the mystery of the disappearing boats. He runs across the band of raiders and they decide to induct them into their tribe.
For more about The Island and the The Island Blu-ray release, see the The Island Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on December 10, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.5 out of 5.
Starring: Michael Caine, David Warner
Director: Michael Ritchie
» See full cast & crew
The Island Blu-ray Review
"Sea" it or let this island sink?
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, December 10, 2012
In cinema parlance, "Summer" doesn't always mean "big." Director Michael Ritchie's (Fletch) The Island is the Summer blockbuster that wasn't, a forgettable 1980 picture about high seas pirates laying low in a tropical paradise when they are not looting ships and who discover two very specific captives to impregnate their women and lead them to glory in future generations. The film dabbles around in a few decent ideas -- namely the ease with which the pirates brainwash Michael Caine's character's son into believing that he's more than an everyday American kid -- but ultimately fails to elicit much of a response. The picture lacks dramatic muscle, struggles to maintain a pace, fails to construct memorable characters, and never quite finds that perfect rhythm for its action. It's not a poor film by an stretch of the imagination, but The Island lacks just that -- imagination -- and seems content to simply flail about in the water for two hours of passably dull, forgettable cinema that does nothing well nor anything poorly.
Investigative reporter Blair Maynard (Michael Caine, Harry Brown) finds himself interested in the story of vanished ships and hundreds of lost souls in the Caribbean. He and his preteen son Justin (Jeffrey Frank) -- an expert marksman -- travel to the tiny isle known as "Navidad" where they begin an adventure that will change their lives. It doesn't take them long to figure out exactly what's happening. They're kidnapped by a band of pirates that, for generations, has survived by looting vessels and killing all witnesses. They're led by the mysterious John David Nau (David Warner, Titanic) who, upon learning that Blair and his son may be kin to the famed Maynard who killed the pirate Blackbeard, allows father and son to live. Blair is forced to procreate with a local, while John David takes Justin under his wing, convinces him of his heritage, and promises him a bright future in the pirate ranks. Blair must battle alone to save his life, and that of his son, from an uncertain and troubling future.
There are an awful lot of films that could serve as the proverbial dictionary definition of "uninspired," and The Island is one of them. It's a hard midline movie, an insipid and sometimes tedious affair that never realizes even the modest potential of its premise. The film falters in many ways, but it's the equal bland-on-bland force that defines the main conflict that really does the movie in. The forgettable protagonists are offset by equally dreary protagonists. Michael Caine's Blair Maynard never quite finds the "everyman" sort of Nick Nolte in Cape Fear hero (or antihero, as one might argue) that the film desperately needs and tries to produce. On the flip side, the villains are largely boring and poorly constructed. The ragtag bunch finds little dramatic value and emotes even less of an intimidation factor. Sure their numbers are many, their looks scruffy, their violence bloody, and their ideals and morals suitably squashed all in the name of their dastardly and criminal pursuits, but John David Nau and gang fail to even approach the stuff of classic screen villains who emit an air of chilly coldheartedness and engender an immediate sense of terror at their mere screen presence. The Island's character roster hurts it considerably, and its wishy-washy structure and technical merits don't do it many favors, either.
Like its character roster fails to elicit much of an emotional response, The Island's technical merits also face similar challenges and shortcomings. The picture lacks the polish and flow of superior cinema fare; the roughness around its edges is just that -- ungainly roughness -- rather than deliberate grit or sharp charm. The movie lingers on a bit too much and never finds a comfortable pacing, whether in more quiet and contemplative dialogue scenes between captors and captives or in the various high-seas action segments that play on varied scales of scope and excitement. The picture does stage its biggest boarding sequence nicely, even as it devolves into a scene with a silly wannabe Kung Fu fighter warding off pirates as long as he can, doing his best faux Bruce Lee interpretation -- physical and audible both. When the movie's not hamming it up, it does little more than show Michael Caine's character attempting escape, either by formulating or implementing a plan of action (picking the four-digit lock that holds together his shackles, spying a flare gun, and so on) only to be returned to his captors so the film can reach its trigger happy climax.
The Island Blu-ray, Video Quality
After a rather dismal open in which title colors bleed and the image appears worn down and dim, The Island reveals a rather pleasing and consistent but not perfect high definition transfer. The transfer produces bright, bold colors in daytime scenes, a little worn perhaps and certainly not with the sort of balance and accuracy enjoyed by newer, more polished productions. Nighttime affairs, of course, hide colors where applicable but the transfer does fluctuate a bit with its black levels, which appear across a rather wide spectrum of appearances, from deep and natural to washed out and perhaps even a touch red and purple whether in nighttime backdrops or on dark business suits and furnishings. Additionally, many darker scenes are awash in unsightly noise. Details are adequate; the image benefits more from the uptick in resolution than anything else. There are no strikingly complex textures to be seen, for the most part. Some edges go a bit soft and the image sometimes appears to be the victim of light noise reduction. However, grain does remain; it spikes here and there and sometimes goes practically invisible from normal viewing distances. All told, this is a serviceable catalogue image, one that's not particularly offensive but, on the other side of the ledger, hardly memorable.
The Island Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The Island's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless soundtrack proves a little more fulfilling than the merely passable transfer. There are some nice spacial elements throughout, whether a wavy radio broadcast that lingers off to the sides in one early shot or the general din of pirate chaos as ships are boarded, goods are swindled, and people are killed. The surrounds are used to good effect, at times, and the track makes use of strong directional elements, also only at times. Maynard's office place din doesn't stretch beyond a rather puny front-side effort, but big action scenes enjoy more pronounced and invigorating surround and multidirectional elements. A gun range segment doesn't inspire the sonic senses, but heavier blasts on the island do. Though there are certainly some wishy-washy contrasts, the track's more aggressive elements usually dominate when necessary, particularly during the most intensive moments in the final act and at the big finale. Even gentle rain and lingering thunder claps are pleasantly natural and immersive. Most musical cues seem a bit sharp, but the heavy notes and aggressive spacing and volume make for a satisfying overall presentation. Dialogue is clear and accurate up the middle. While not a classic track, The Island's lossless presentation serves the movie quite well.
The Island Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Aside from the included DVD copy, the only added bonuses are trailers for The Island, Death Valley, and They Live.
The Island Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The Island is innocent fun that doesn't serve a purpose beyond general entertainment, but not every film need leave audiences pondering life's greatest mysteries. It could have been better, could have been worse, but cinema is full of such unremarkable pictures, which isn't the worst company for a movie of this sort. The Island just can't ever piece together its characters or actions or drama, leaving it all a piecemeal, globular entity that fits well enough together but never truly engages its audience beyond the boundaries of cinema tedium. Shout! Factory's Blu-ray release of The Island features acceptable video and solid audio. No supplements that can't be found by going to YouTube are included. Rent it.
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The Island Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Shout! Factory December 11th Blu-ray Releases Detailed - October 2, 2012
Shout! Factory will be releasing Death Valley and The Island on Blu-ray later this year. Each cult horror films will be brought to stores in a BD/DVD Combo pack and will make its debut on Blu-ray December 11th.
• The Island and Death Valley Coming Up - July 26, 2012
Independent distributors Shout Factory have revealed that they will release combo pack editions of Michael Ritchie's The Island (1980), starring Michael Caine, David Warner and Angela Punch McGregor, and Dick Richards' Death Valley (1982), starring Paul Le Mat, ...
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