Ossus Library Index Fantasy Movie Index

CUTTHROAT ISLAND

Directed by Renny Harlin (MGM, 1995)
Starring Geena Davis, Matthew Modine, and Frank Langella

The "female pirate" battles her uncle and a treacherous crew to find her grandfather's treasure.

 

 

1 star+

August 13th, 2000 on TV  
   

I don't have much to say about this movie.  I was in a distracted state (waiting for a pizza that never arrived), but I don't think it would have mattered.  The beginning was fun and intriguing, but before the halfway mark it turned sour. 

The director chose his opening shots well, whether they were in a scene at the beginning of the movie, or even at the end.  It looks like this movie was made for commercials, because there were many breaks that switched to a completely new scene in a commercial-like manner.  The shots that I am talking about were the pans across the water, as if we were in a glider, moving towards the ships, or islands.  And the music was great, too.  It was made to get the blood moving. 

And right from the first scene, where Morgan gets up from sleeping with a man who wants to capture and kill her, tricking him and running from his building.  She is summoned by her father, who has been taken captive by his evil brother, Dawg. 

It turns out that Morgan's grandfather discovered (or stashed?) a treasure on an island, and split the map up into three parts, given to the three brothers.  I believe that Dawg finally decided that he had enough strength to retrieve the other two parts of the map, and claim the treasure for himself. 

Morgan rescues her father, who dies, but gives her his part of the map, which was tattooed on his scalp!  She takes control of her father's ship (leaving some hurt feelings behind, but she's a pirate, and so expects to be obeyed).  But she needs someone who speaks Latin, to translate the map.  She buys a slave, who was a thief, and ends up being recognized.  They have to run for their lives, in a ridiculous, but mostly fun chase scene.  They really should have edited out the part where her carriage races beneath a balcony, and she has time to crash through a window, gape at the party she is disturbing, run through several rooms, and crash through another window to fall back into the carriage.

Some of the dialogue seems to be made for a tongue-in-cheek comedy. 

Morgan takes her ship to get the second part of the map, from her other uncle, and they are all ambushed by Dawg.  This brawl scene is well done, and although her uncle is killed, he inadvertently showed the Latin-speaker where his part of the map was.  After another big chase scene, where they leave their mark on yet another town, they get to their ship. 

After which follows a schooner chase scene, through islands and storms.  This is rather slow, but it gives Morgan and her Latin-speaking friend time to make out.  But he betrays her, and tries to discover where the island is, obviously with the intent to find the treasure for himself.  Of course, Morgan knew that he had the map, and that is why she made out with him -looking in his clothes, apparently, for it. 

She orders her ship towards the island, but her opponents mutiny.  They are kind enough, though, to let her and her followers off in a longboat.  They drift off until they hit land, of course, on the right island.  How they know it is Cutthroat island is beyond me.  The Latin-speaker also escapes, and jumps off the ship.  Somehow, he also manages to reach the island, and he seems to have somehow acquired Dawg's piece of the map, too!  (Maybe in the brawl.)

So they follow the map to a cliff, then down the cliff to a cave, where they find the treasure.  But, of course, Dawg has also found the island, and sets out to find Morgan. 

The rest of the movie was quite dull, except for the final pirate fight.  Suffice it to say that Morgan hauls the treasure up the cliff, gets captured by Dawg, jumps off the cliff into the water, and climbs up onto her old ship by the anchor, taking it over when they are underway. 

Dawg seems to have made a deal with the governor, and thinks he controls the two ships.  He also has her Latin-lover as a prisoner.  When he discovers that she has taken over the other ship, he tempts her with the man she loves (even though she threatened to kill him before they were thrown off her ship), and what follows is a terrific cannon fight between the two ships. 

The sword fight that followed after the ships were boarded was less interesting.  The people who needed to die died, and Morgan gets to fight Dawg, who offers her almost the exact same lines that Darth Vader offered Luke Skywalker in The Empire Strikes Back!  I couldn't believe it!

She gets thrown to the ground, but manages to load and camouflage a cannon before her uncle gets back off the mast.  When she uncovers it to show him, he does what every person would do in that situation- he stands still so that she can shoot him with the cannonball, off the ship, for everybody to see.  By then, of course, all her crew is watching from the side of their ship, because the enemy crew has disappeared.  Her last line to her uncle was "bad Dawg!"  I couldn't believe I heard that!

She blows up the other ship, but not before attaching a buoy to the treasure so that it will float when the ship that encompasses it sinks (I don't know how this would work, since the sinking boat's hold was not blown to bits like some other parts of the ship).  There is another humorous scene where her Latin-lover is trapped beneath the treasure, and is about to drown, like when Jack Dawson was handcuffed in Titanic!  Obviously unintentional (since this movie came out way before that one did), but just as poorly done as that one. 

They don't get to sail off into the sunset, but they are about to head across the Atlantic to Madagascar, where they can spend their loot.  As a final command before setting off, she orders her Latin-speaking friend into her quarters!

The first half was interesting, and set an interesting tone, but was still silly.  I was able to overcome the silliness, though, because the setup and directing was alright.  About halfway through, something happened, and the whole movie fell apart.  The dialogue changed, the action was less interesting, and the logic was absurd. 

I have to rate this one towards the top end of one star, but cannot justify giving it two.

 
   

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