Now, you might think that you're perfectly familiar with the story of Treasure Island by now. And the Asylum doesn't make any radical changes to the story. You've got (not exactly) young Jim Hawkins, an innkeeper's son (well, actually, he's the innkeeper himself this time), Long John Silver, a quest for treasure, giant man-eating bugs, the black sp...wait, what?
|Some small part of you thinks that this might at least turn out interesting. That part of you is about to be horribly disappointed. (The rest of you will be busy saying, "I told you so.")|
So, let's talk a bit about the film in general. It always amazes me how someone can take a good story like Treasure Island and decide to make a film of it and then decide, "You know, we need to change this because the excellent, dramatic way that it plays out in the book is just not stupid enough for us." But that has to be what the discussion sounds like at Asylum HQ anytime they decide to adapt a book. It really isn't that hard, guys. You get something that is regarded as a good story, and you film that story. Now, yes, I recognize that there are several--hell, probably several dozen--film versions of Treasure Island already, so you might have wanted to do something a tad different, but you're the Asylum. You're really not good at that, so just film the book as written and you might actually end up with a pretty good film for once!
But let's be honest...what they were going here wasn't a good movie. It was something they could release at around the same time as Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest so they could try to ride the coattails of yet another big budget film. I hate to say it, but you know why they probably filmed this particular story to release at the time of Dead Man's Chest? This is so sad, but it's probably because Treasure Island featured "the black spot"--the pirate message of judgment on a fellow pirate--and that also featured in Dead Man's Chest after a fashion (and featured prominently in the advertising, as I recall). Someone saw the preview for Dead Man's Chest, and called in to HQ saying "Quick! We need a story with the black spot in it!" I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if that was the whole reason. (Oh, and just in case you thought they'd be at all subtle, there's a character in the film named "Jack Falcon" who tries--very poorly--to emulate Johnny Depp's performance as Jack Sparrow. He shows up as one of Silver's henchmen.)
|There's only one kind of Falcon this guy makes me think of, and that's "Falcon...punch!" Right to his nose, that is.|
What the film does well...actually well..they've got a halfway decent group of actors here that can carry a scene decently enough. There are a few who kind of ham it up or just come off as dull (Jack Falcon is surprisingly low-key considering he's clearly trying to be Jack Sparrow, and Blind Pew...okay, honestly, his acting job wasn't that bad, but I couldn't get past that ridiculous outfit--who thought we could take him seriously dressed like that?).
|We are supposed to take this guy seriously.|
The rest of the acting is all right, but there are some problems with the pacing. In fact, in the first scene with Jim, I swear there was like a 3-4 second pause between every single line in a conversation. That came up a few other times in the film, though generally things felt at least a bit smoother. It's just that a lot of time seems to be spent on characters delaying, or considering, or thinking things through, or finding a pretty roundabout way to say or do something when there had to be a quicker way. It's a minor irritant, but a pretty ever-present one. The pacing aside, there are some decent lines, and the actors and actresses mostly play fairly well off each other and make the characters feel at least somewhat believable. Lance Henriksen, as Long John Silver, looks rather bored, but still pulls off a decent enough version of the character as he manages to turn "boredom" into "general amusement" well enough to work. Tom Nagel is pretty earnest as Jim Hawkins and other than those really long delays early on in the film I can't say I had much problem with his performance. Others tend not to be quite as strong, but again, no one other than the actor playing Billy Bones could be defined as doing a bad job (and to be fair, even Billy Bones was hardly awful).
|"Crap! It's those Asylum guys with another contract for a horrible film! I'd better run!"|
|This is the film's good fight.|
The effects aren't terrible (except for the final bug scene)--they're pretty stock Asylum, an okay CG job that just isn't always blended all that well with the rest of the film. For this one, there aren't all that many effects shots anyway, so they get the job done for the most part.
I wish I could say that the Asylum did some ridiculous stuff here, or that it made an exciting film, or that it made a bad film that was bad in fun ways...but there really isn't much to talk about. It's the first, oh, third or half or so of Treasure Island with a somewhat older Jim (so he can look vaguely like Orlando Bloom's Will Turner), and then at the mutiny it just turns into a bunch of swordfights and a couple giant bugs. There's really not anything that interesting to talk about. There's nothing outright bad to criticize other than what I've already discussed. There's no super-huge plothole of doom that made me rage. There's no ridiculous "Alexandra D'Artagnan" or horribly stupid sword bucket. The giant bugs could be something dumb to laugh about, but they're barely in the film!
Okay, I guess that's something to talk about. Seriously...why would you add giant bugs to Treasure Island and then not use them? You don't do that! If you're going to make an awful, ridiculous, stupid change to a very well-respected story, at least have the guts to go big with it. Get them to the island faster, and make it about the mutineers and the loyal crew members ending up having to work together to fend off the giant bugs while they also compete for the ship and the treasure! Would it be a good movie? No. It would be stupid. But it would at least be interesting and the giant bugs be an actual part of the film rather than just something you introduce and then just kind of toss aside.
I do have to discuss just how underwhelming that final bug scene is, too. Spoilers apply, of course--skip this paragraph if you'd rather avoid them. Again...there are only a few short giant bug moments before this: the beginning of the film (where Silver loses his leg to one), the bit where they break up the melee after the mutiny, and...huh. That's all I can remember. So, I got to the end of the film--Silver's dead, the ship is recaptured, the treasure is taken, and Jim and friends are all ready to sail on home. Then a giant bug flies towards them in the sky. So, fool that I am (how many Asylum films have I seen...and I still held out some hope!), I was thinking that maybe, y'know, this might end up as a swarm of bugs flying after the ship as Jim and crew try to outrace them. No. No, it wasn't. It was one bug. They miss it once with a cannon, and then Jim aims a cannon at it and blows it up. Yeah, with a big fireball and everything. Just a note: Cannonballs are not explosive. They are giant balls of solid metal. They do not detonate things. They punch very large holes in things. And that's it. One bug. One measly bug. There's no sense of danger in any way...it'd be one thing if they had the thing divebomb the ship several times, grab someone and carry them off, chase Jim towards the cannon, and finally as it's coming around for another go he manages to nail it. But not...it just kind of hovers out there, and boom, it's dead.
|No! No, no, no, no, no! No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no!|