Monday, September 22, 2014

Pirates of Treasure Island (2006)

Who's In It: Lance Henriksen (Aliens, The Terminator, Millenium), Tom Nagel (Jolly Roger: Massacre at Cutter's Cove and a bit part in Man of Steel), and Rebekah Kochan (Eating Out, Eating Out 2: Sloppy Seconds, Eating Out 3: All You Can Eat).

What It's About: A loose adaptation of Treasure Island in which Jim Hawkins (Nagel) is in his 20s and dating Anne Bonney (Kochan), while Long John Silver (Henriksen) lost his leg to giant insects.

How It Is: This found its way into my Netflix queue I'm sure because I was just adding pirate movies one day. If I ever knew what it was, I'd forgotten until I popped it in and saw the opening words, "The Asylum Presents." Coming out the same year as Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, this was The Asylum's mockbuster rip-off of that franchise.

I go back and forth on my feelings about The Asylum and did so again during the ten seconds after I saw their logo on this thing. First my heart sank, dispirited that I wasn't about to discover some hidden gem. But that disappointment quickly turned into "let's do this" and a determination to enjoy whatever goofiness I was about to jump into.

The effects - what few there are - are actually okay. The giant insects that inhabit Treasure Island are rare, so the CGI team only needed to create a couple of them and they look pretty good. Director Leigh Scott even hired a real ship to film on, though it's obviously not moving in the scenes that are shot on deck. The effects and ship money all came out of the costume budget though. The wardrobe (as Chris Schweizer pointed out when I tweeted some images) looks like it was borrowed from a community theater, and even then some hats and other pieces get reused between characters.

We know going in though that any Asylum film is made on the super cheap, so let's not belabor that. What's worth judging is how they tell the story and Pirates of Treasure Island makes some fun choices. Making Jim Hawkins older changes the story in a big way, but it's still interesting, especially when his girlfriend turns out to be a famous, feared pirate who doesn't want that life for him. Giant insects are also a nice twist and an early indicator that the movie isn't taking itself at all seriously. As are the wacky novelty glasses worn by Blind Pew and having Captain Smollett demand that everyone use the French pronunciation of his name. And while I wouldn't dream of spoiling them for you, the dying words of a major character are unbelievably stupid and hilarious and end the movie in the same spirit that it began.

Rating: Three out five giant, peg-leg making bugs.

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