The Curator of Schlock #203 by Jeff Shuster
Michael Caine versus David Warner: Need I say more?
Michael Caine. I know I should have something profound to say, but such profundity is escaping me. I mean, he’s a legend in own time. Heck, he’s a legend in our own time thanks to Christopher Nolan sticking him in just about every movie he makes. And let’s not forget about Now You See Me, that one about those outlaw stage magicians that fight for truth and justice. Caine was in that too. He’s still relevant. He was also in On Deadly Ground, but we won’t talk about that today.
This week’s movie is 1980’s The Island from director Michael Ritchie. It stars Michael Caine as a fearless reporter. It also stars David Warner (of Time Bandits and Tron fame) as a fearless pirate. It’s based on a novel from Peter Benchley, the man who brought us Jaws.
Does lightning strike twice?
Is it terrible? I suppose not so much. I don’t know. I was expecting more out of movie featuring the descendants of the pirates of old, still scourging the Caribbean for loot and booty.
I’ll say this, these pirates don’t mess around. The movie starts out with some upper crust types drinking martinis on a fancy yacht when a bunch of pirates pull up in the middle of the night and start hacking them to bits. Seriously, they drive a hatchet into the forehead of one rich guy and slice open the belly of another. The pirates then steal what they want, burn the yacht, and go on their merry way. Apparently, this has been going on for a while. 600 ships have disappeared in the span of a year, arousing the suspicion of Blair Maynard (Michael Caine), a British-born American journalist. Funny, I don’t think he was British born in the novel. I guess they changed that for the movie. Why does no one have any confidence in Caine’s American accent? He had me fooled in The Cider House Rules. He sounded just like a regular New Englander. “Good night, you princes of Maine, you kings of New England.” Brings a tear to my eye each time.
Maynard heads down to southeast Florida to investigate, drags his son with him with promises of a trip to Disney World, buys him a Colt 45 instead, and charters an airplane out to the Caribbean. The plane crashes on the runway due to the wheels being jammed. Maynard and his son escape unharmed, but they get kidnapped by pirates the next day while fishing for barracudas.
The pirate leader is named Nau (David Warner) and we learn that these pirates are the descendants of pirates from the 1600s. They’re not as swift, though, due to inbreeding. They kidnap children to indoctrinate into the ways of piracy and have their eyes on Maynard’s son.
The pirates also keep Maynard around to breed with the one woman on the island.
This is a weird movie, but if you ever wanted to see Michael Cain go all Wild Bunch massacring a bunch of pirates with a .50 caliber machine gun–and I know you do–this is the movie for you.
We also get a bit of kung fu action in this flick.
There’s kind of something here for everybody.