Cutthroat Island (1995)

Genres - Adventure  |   Sub-Genres - Costume Adventure, Sea Adventure, Swashbuckler  |   Release Date - Dec 22, 1995 (USA)  |   Run Time - 123 min.  |   Countries - Germany, France, Italy, United States  |   MPAA Rating - PG13
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Review by Karl Williams

One of the decade's most notorious flops, this spectacle gone wrong substitutes explosions and stunts for an interesting story and superior acting. While director Renny Harlin approaches his impressively mounted action sequences with relish, the poorly thought-out nature of the screenplay scuttles his meticulous approach (metal cannonballs don't explode on contact with wood, or anything else for that matter). Eye-catching visuals aren't enough to sustain audience interest if the story and characters aren't engaging, and the screenplay for Cutthroat Island is a long string of genre cliches that would be hard-pressed to entertain even as the script for a theme-park ride. So hackneyed and lacking in originality is the script that one literally expects a character to belt out, "Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!" Leads Geena Davis and last-minute replacement Matthew Modine (stepping in for Michael Douglas) have no discernible chemistry. Unlike the turgid Hook (1991), Harlin's film at least features a ship that leaves the dock; it's just that nothing original happens once it sets sail. Resurrecting the pirate movie genre, while dangerously expensive, is not a bad idea. But as the comedy Yellowbeard (1983), director Roman Polanski's Pirates (1986), and this film clearly demonstrate, even the most expensive ship will sink if poorly planned.