'Cutthroat Island' is a film unlike any other. It's gone down in history as one of the biggest box office losses on record. It bankrupted the studio that financed it, and it thrust its two leads into the outer reaches of obscurity. No one involved came out a winner. Like the plague, people have avoided it in its many incarnations. Yet it still continually pops up on DVD, daytime TV, and now it has found it's way to Blu-ray. Is it worth watching now?
I have to answer "YES!" 'Cutthroat Island' is probably one of the most corny, campy films you'll ever watch, but it glories in its corniness. I don't know how else to describe it. It's just so silly and bizarrely made that it commands people to seek it out.
Captain Morgan (Geena Davis) is charged with taking over her father's crew of pirates after his death. He leaves her a piece of a map that leads to a treasure, supposedly the largest pile of booty any pirate has ever laid eyes on. The only problem is that Morgan's father has two other pirating captain brothers who also have pieces to the map, but the family really hasn't been on speaking terms so to speak.
Morgan sets out to claim the other map pieces, find the treasure, and revel in the spoils of her plunder. Dawg (yes his name is actually spelled that way) played by Frank Langella, is the most fearsome of the brotherhood trio. He doesn't want to share his piece of the map, and instead sets out to find the treasure himself all the while trying to kill his niece.
While watching 'Cutthroat Island' I thought to myself, there's nothing here that isn't just as corny as the recent 'Pirates of the Caribbean' films, especially the third one. Johnny Depp really is the only thing separating those films from being just another 'Cutthroat Island.'
Renny Harlin's pirate epic is at times so unintentionally funny that it serves as a great film to gather the buddies around just to riff on. The writing is cheesy, the plot is essentially worthless, and the acting is in danger of sinking far below par. With that said, it's enjoyably dumb, mindless fun. There are some fantastic battle scenes, some great explosions, and a hearty helping of camp.
With the horror of 'Cutthroat Island's box office, I'm surprised this film made it to Blu-ray this early, or at all. What surprises me even more is the near flawless 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer that accompanies it – insert surprised emoticon here!
Released in 1995, I was amazed that the entire film is essentially free from any specks or blemishes. If DNR was applied here, it was done with a nimble hand and keen eye, because the side effects are nonexistent. The color palette is deep and rich. Vibrant greens, dark blues and deep reds pop off the screen. Flyover shots of the ships as they cut through the Caribbean are almost, dare I say, breathtaking. Shots of the dense greenery covering the small islands they sail past are almost like watching scenes from 'Planet Earth.' Blacks stay consistent, delineation is near perfect, skin tones are mostly natural – with only a few instances of an orange effect happening. Detail is heavy, with faces and the pirate ships benefiting the most. The end battle is simply stunning.
The quality of this Blu-ray doesn't stop with the video presentation. Everything that went right with the PQ is carried over to the audio department to deliver a bombastic and rousing soundtrack.
The 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, like the video, is simply amazing considering the film it's attached to. 'Cutthroat Island' has one of the most memorable scores of all time and that's because, unlike the movie, it really is good. Here it's given the proper treatment. The feeling is engrossing. The surrounds deliver the score with precision and clarity. The movie contains its share of explosions that are accompanied by a heavy helping of LFE that will shake your room. Dialogue is presented clearly in the front and center channels with directionality working to perfection. Panning effects like birds flying around your head only add to the encompassing feel. Only a couple times did dialogue seem a tad soft compared to other effects that were happening at the same time.
This soundtrack is as close to perfection as you can get with an older catalogue title. Blu-ray is the perfect home for it. This is one you can use to show off your system.
This a terrible film, everyone knows that, so it should deserve the one star treatment. On the other hand it's got some fantastic camp value that will give any group of friends a hilarious time, which could earn it the maximum number of stars possible. Factoring all this in, I'll stick in the dead center with the stars with the caveat that, personally, I'm on the maximum star value side. It's just too much dumb fun to miss out on. It's hilarious at the worst of times, and oddly entertaining with its action sequences in the best of times. It's a campy classic.
'Cutthroat Island' is as corny as they come that's a fact, but what is surprising here is how much fun you can have with that if you watch it in the right frame of mind. When that corniness is accompanied by some stellar audio and video, you may find yourself having a downright good time.