Saturday, March 20, 2010

Movie Recommendation: Cutthroat Island

Cutthroat Island is an older movie, from before pirates were hip and cool and before they wore eyeshadow. (Well, Morgan Adams probably wears eyeshadow, but she has an excuse: she's a woman.) This madcap action movie involves buried treasure, hidden maps, questionable allegiances, mutiny, treachery, sexual tension, romance, swashing, buckling, naval battles, the blowing up of towns ... and even a monkey.

The basic premise is three brothers have equal pieces of the map to an immense treasure ... and the fourth brother, Dawg, is after the pieces. One of those brothers is the father of Morgan Adams, lady pirate. When Dawg kills her father attempting to acquire his piece of the map, she's in command and on the trail. Her first step to hire a slave who reads Latin to translate the map ... and enter Shaw, a rogue, scoundrel and man of many talents, who has been enslaved for thieving.

It's a riotous, full-throttle movie, with plenty of action mixed with some very funny lines ... most of which require context, or I'd be quoting. Certainly, it's not deep theatre, but it's fun. Though the action is arguably cinematic, the environment is gritty, dirty and period. And, of course the battle has a third angle: the government of Port Royal.

There being no supernatural in this movie, the special effects wear better, despite it being older. For my money, Cutthroat Island holds up nicely in comparison to the flashier PotC movies. Sure, it doesn't have the cast - but Geena Davis and Matthew Modine play well off each other, and Frank Langella makes a fantastic villain. Check it out if you can.

As an aside, there must be something about Geena Davis: this is not the only quirky action movie I love (flaws and all) where she stars. The other is The Long Kiss Goodnight, where Davis plays an amnesiac discovering her all-too-dangerous past. That one features Samuel L. Jackson as a private investigator working for her ... and it's the only movie I've ever seen him play a character who is, well, frankly, a dork. (Also a cameo for CSI: NY fans -- Melina Kanakaredes plays his assistant.)


Aubrie said...

I enjoyed Cutthroat Island! Geena Davis was also good in Beetlejuice :)

Lindsey Duncan said...

I've never seen that, actually. Well, little bits of it - but never the whole thing.

Rewatching it, it's hard to believe there wasn't some direct inspiration from this to PotC.