Director: Leigh Scott
Production Company: The Asylum
Well…it had to happen sometime. For our movie night this week, Little Satis and I picked a real stinker. I mean a complete, bogthumping rotter, in the words of Roald Dahl.
Pirates of Treasure Island is billed as a loose adaptation of Treasure Island, and loose is indeed the right term. There are similarities taken straight from the book, and oddities that appear completely out of left field, leaving you completely boggled.
In essence, Jim Hawkins (for yes, there is a Jim Hawkins) discovers Billy Bones‘ treasure map after he dies in his inn. Abruptly. He rather unconvincingly convinces his (apparent) friend Dr. Livesey to finance the voyage, and then even less unconvincingly gets Captain Smollett (French, apparently) to sail them, because he has nothing better at the moment to do. And of course, Long John Silver (I don’t even remember how he got into the tale) hires the crew.
They depart, find the island, the pirate crew mutiny, go ashore, find the treasure, duke it out with the good guys, all get killed, and everyone lives happily ever after.
The movie is full of buxom babes. Really for no reason. One of them is supposed to pass for a boy, though I didn’t actually realize it until they made a fuss out of her ‘turning out’ to be a woman. Captain Smollett (Smoyette, as he pronounces it) keeps two ‘girls’ with him in his cabin for undisclosed purposes, and Anne Bonney (played suitably terribly by Rebekah Kochan, who – yes – starred in a movie called Lez Be Friends) is some kind of incapable barmaid who turns out to be an infamous pirate – cleavage as deep as the Marianas Trench and all – despite being entirely incapable of handle a sword.
The treasure map was a wonderful bit of scrap paper, with a set of coordinates in the middle and nothing else. Um…I was pretty sure maps were supposed to have a little more detail than that (though actually, I suppose it is a lot more efficient that way). Oh, and it turns out it isn’t the map to the treasure at all, but a decoy; over-inflated pirate captain Anne Bonney had the real map the whole time. And just didn’t tell anyone.
The ship was an awesome piece of work – quite convincing as a nineteenth-century pirate vessel, in fact. It’s just a shame they didn’t use the same ship for the long-distance aerial shots. I mean literally a completely differently-constructed ship. It was even a different color.
Now, here’s the thing. I can overlook all of this silliness. I don’t particularly care that the swords are painted cardboard, or that the tipping and shaking of the deck looks worse than the original Star Trek, or that people just sort of fall over when they get shot. I’m willing to overlook shoddy effects for the sake of a good story. After all, look at Godzilla: wonderful stop-motion animation that doesn’t fool anyone, and isn’t disruptive at all because the story is solid. What I can’t – what I won’t – excuse is a shoddy story. Before filming begins, before casting or hiring or production or any of that other stuff happens, you need a story. And if the story sucks, it simply shouldn’t turn into a movie. I know that sadly this happens more often than not, but I’m usually able to sniff them out and avoid them like a dying stinkbug in a skunk’s rear end.
I was only attracted to this movie by Lance Henriksen. Here is an actor I deeply admire, ever since his appearance in Aliens. His performance as a disillusioned widower on the brink of insanity in the wonderful but short-lived TV series Millennium is simply perfect – stunningly brilliant, in fact – and his capabilities as an actor as transcendental. How he ended up attached to this trite is beyond me. I feel sorry for him. I don’t feel sorry for Tom Nagel or Rebekah Koch, because their resumé deserves this. They’re actors starting their career, and are meant to deliver dung on their way up (though delivering dung in dung on top of dung is probably not a particularly auspicious beginning).
More than anything, though, I feel kind of bad for subjecting Little Satis to this. He stuck through it, little trooper that he was – probably hoping it would get better – but the first thing he did as the ending credits began to roll was to screw his face up at me and go, “I didn’t really like that one.” Strike one – he’s loved every other movie I’ve introduced him to. I suppose we’re all allowed some mistakes; next week I’m making damn sure it’s an excellent movie. As for this week, I’m writing off those ninety minutes of my life as time I will never get back.
Oh, and did I mention the island was infested with giant, man-eating insects? Because all treasure islands are, I guess.