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Treasure Island
IMDB Rating: 7.4/10 from 3,337 votes
Release: 22 January 1990 (USA) /

Treasure Island

Genre: Action, Adventure, Crime, Family
Director: Fraser Clarke Heston,
Stars: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Synopsis: Young Jim Hawkins, while running the Benbow Inn with his mother, meets Captain Billy Bones, who dies at the inn while it is besieged by buccaneers led by Blind Pew. Jim and his mother fight off the attackers and discover Billy Bones' treasure map for which the buccaneers had come. Jim agrees to sail on the Hispaniola with Squire Trelawney and Dr. Livesey to find the treasure on a mysterious island. Upon arriving at the island, ship's cook and scalawag Long John Silver leads a mutiny of crew members who want the treasure for themselves. Jim helps the Squire and Hispaniola officers to survive the mutiny and fight back against Silver's men, who have taken over the Hispaniola. Written by Kevin McCorry <[email protected]>

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Critic Reviews


Shiver-me-timbers, this is the best version of the Robert Louis Stevenson classic! In fact it is a model of cinematic adaptation. Closely following the book, with whole scenes and dialogue taken straight from its pages, the film never bogs down into the kind of stuffy lifelessness that sometimes afflicts adaptations attempting to be faithful to their literary source. Indeed Frazier Heston's screenplay and direction capture the brisk, page turning pleasure of the book nicely. Add to his sure direction, wonderful locations, a picture-perfect cast and a rousing music score by the Chieftains and you have one of the best pirate movies ever made. And for once they really are pirates and not watered down, sentimentalized versions of them. They're cut-throats all, a scurvy lot of thieves, superstitious and dirty. You can just smell their stench under the hot tropic sun and lush vegetation of Skeleton Island.

Oliver Reed as Billy Bones gets the movie going smartly. We first see him with his granite visage at the head of the skiff, an old sea dog home from the sea. With his great hulk and whiskey whisper purr he exudes danger from every rum soaked pore of his being. Of course his old shipmates, the remnants of the crew of the now dead Captain Flint, are pursuing him. Christopher Lee, almost completely unrecognizable, is Blind Pew, a spectral, skeletal figure of death, whose fury, fueled by blindness is like some great ravaging bird of prey. He is wonderful and like Reed he creates a vivid, memorable characterization. A young Christian Bale is the definitive Jim Hawkins. He narrates the proceedings and is at turns appealing, capable and wily. He is a boy on the verge of young manhood who is about to have his mettle tested with the adventure of a lifetime. There is not a trace of the Jackie Cooper mawkishness about him. Richard Johnson as Squire Trelawney, Julian Glover as Dr. Livesey, and Clive Wood as Captain Smollet are all perfect in their roles. They beautifully capture the essence of quiet courage. Heroes without phony heroics, they are solid men of character sure of themselves and quite capable of dealing with Silver and his scurvy crew.

This brings us to Charlton Heston as Long John Silver. Ultimately for any version of this work to succeed it rests on the shoulder of the actor portraying the Sea Cook. Happy to say, Heston gives one of the best performances of his long career. Turning his stalwart, forthright screen persona on its head, he creates a monster that is complex, charismatic, and bloodthirsty. There is no Wallace Beery, Robert Newton sentimentality here. This is a natural leader of men who can dazzle with his bigger than life personality and tales of treasure, and the next moment plunge his cutlass into the bowels of his victim without even missing a beat. Never has he used his toothy smile to better effect. It is the smile of a vicious carnivore-a shark. On a lighter note Nicholas Amer brings the right balance of levity and pathos as Ben Gunn, the poor maroon. He is amusing without becoming a caricature, and his scene with Jim when describes his yearning for a piece of toasted cheese is wonderful. Both Pete Postlewaite as George Merry and Michael Halsey as Israel Hands are perfectly nasty.

Finally the music score by the Chieftains is superb. It captures by turns the lilting Celtic love of the sea, the grace and sweep of a great sailing ship setting out for adventure and the exotic dangers of buried treasure, pirates, flashing cutlasses, and midnight rendezvous on a far away island in the balmy tropics. Avast, me hearties, this is a film to treasure!

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