Lord of the Flies (1990)Overview -
Based on the acclamed novel by William Golding. After a plane crash in the ocean, a group of military students reach a deserted island. Ralph organizes the boys, assigning responsibilities for each one. When the rebel Jack Merridew neglects the fire camp and they lose the chance to be seen by a helicopter, the group split under the leadership of Jack. While Ralph rationalizes the procedures, Jack returns to the primitivism, using the fear for the unknown (in a metaphor to the religion) to control the other boys, and hunting and chasing pigs, stealing the possession of Ralph's group and even killing people.
Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take
If you're reading this, then I'm sure that at some point in your life, you have either read William Golding's 1954 novel 'The Lord of the Flies' either as required school reading or for fun, or have seen the original adaption on film from 1963, which is currently part of the Criterion Collection. However, my first foray into this world was through this 1990 movie. It wasn't until a few years later that I read the book and saw the original 1963 film.
'Lord of the Flies' has been referenced in countless books, magazines, television shows, and other films, where they're usually discussing a group of kids who are unruly and on a path of destruction and death. Needless to say, 'Lord of the Flies' has always been controversial, which it still is today, given the subject matter. This 1990 version is a bit different than its predecessors, as director Harry Hook wanted to give it a more modern appeal to younger audiences. Instead of a group of British choir boys surviving a plane crash in the ocean with no adults, and making their way to a deserted island, this 90s version has a group of young military cadets stranded with one gravely injured adult. It turns the tables a little bit as we get to see an assuming group of boys who might have some skills to survive in a dire situation along with a mental attitude for order and command, turn into something completely frightening and chaotic.
It was a smart move on Hook's part here, as well as making the young survivors American, rather than British. But the big story points are still there. Ralph (a young Balthazar Getty) and Jack (Chris Furrh) are the main leaders of the group of young survivors who turn into enemies, while Piggy (Danuel Pipoly) still acts as the collective groups moral and ethics board, trying to get these wild kids to survive and help, rather than become savage beasts with no rules. Hook wasn't bothered with telling a story with the amount of symbolism or depth here as in the original novel or even the original film. Instead, it captured the pure horror as these kids turned into monsters.
The film succeeds in this aspect very well, because we can easily see nowadays that this kind of situation is far too real and hits close to home for most. Another interesting change is that this 1990 film was shot in color. The original film was in black and white, and painted a fairly bleak outlook from the get-go. But here, we have beautiful landscapes and luscious greens for miles, which is the place where these stranded kids go wild, which is an interesting notion in and of itself. How could these kids possibly become the murdering lunatics they are in such a rich and beautiful place? It's fascinating to watch.
The young Getty, Furrh, and Pipoly all do a decent job here in their roles. Furrh is menacing for sure throughout, but also makes you believe he is still a scared little boy deep down, while Getty is constantly mixing a variety of emotions in order to stay alive. Then there is poor Pipoly, who does a great job of being the joke of the group who everyone picks on. It's still quite sad to see what that character goes through. Even a young James Badge Dale as Simon turns in a solid performance, however a few of the other kids still needed a week long acting class in certain moments.
Still, this 1990 version of 'Lord of the Flies' is a very suspenseful and unyielding look at what pure chaos really is. The gut punch is that it's all young kids going through this and acting out these bizarre and violent behaviors. Needless to say after 25 years, this film still holds up quite well.
This 1990 version of 'Lord of the Flies' comes with a decent 1080p HD transfer presented in 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Like with most films released through the Olive brand, there isn't ant extensive undertaking to go frame by frame in restoring their films to give them the best look possible. With that being said, there are a few problems to be had here with this video presentation, but the good outweighs the bad here.
The image as a whole looks good, but is not flush with vivid detail throughout. The detail that is here comes through in closeups with ample lighting. Individual hairs, specks of dirt, and makeup blemishes show up quite well in these instances. However, in darker lighting or wider shots, the image goes a bit soft. It's all a bit uneven throughout. There is also a layer of grain that fluctuates from time to time as well in strength, which is unfortunate. Colors though look amazing.
The rich greens of the tropical plant life, the bold blue ocean and sky, and the beige sand all look amazing and pop right off screen. Skin tones are natural and the black levels can be deep and inky sometimes, but in other moments, cause a bit of crush that is very noticeable. There are moments of video noise and minor scratches to the film that were never removed. It's not a bad video presentation by any means, but it could use some work.
This release comes with a lossless DTS-HD 2.0 stereo mix. I really was hoping for a 5.1 surround mix to amplify all of the kids screaming and island sounds, but that's not the case here. It would have just been a more immersive sound design if there was a 5.1 option. That being said, this stereo mix actually sounds quite good. The ambient sounds do make it to the front speakers quite nicely and sound full and robust throughout.
The dialogue is always crystal clear and easy to follow at all times, and free of any pops, cracks, high shrills, and hiss. The score sounds amazing and sweeping throughout the whole movie, while never drowning out any of the sound effects or dialogue. The LFE is amazing and the dynamic range is wide, leaving this audio presentation with solid marks.
Unfortunately, nobody wanted to come back for any extras here.
'Lord of the Flies' is one of the most iconic novels of all time, and it's still considered controversial more than 60 years later. This 1990 version of the film made some changes from the original novel and movie, but most of them were good and interesting adjustments, while keeping with the same story that Golding went for. It still has those harsh realities in the film that the book etched in our minds. The video and audio presentations are both good, but not great, and there are literally zero extras. I still enjoy watching this 1990 version, because it has a young Balthazar Getty starting out his career and the suspenseful ride is still thrilling, even though the technical aspects are less than stellar. Still, I'm going to recommend it.
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