The only light in the badlands known as Saturday night television is the SyFy Channel’s mostly terrible, but campy Saturday Night Movies. Tonight (Saturday, May 5th) they debut their latest, a four hour retailing of the Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic, Treasure Island.
This production was originally produced for British Television and aired across the pond in a two night event on BskyB earlier this year. The SyFy channel is presenting both parts in a single night event. ’ve never read the original book, nor know the story, so I will not be able to comment on if/how the butchered the story or not.
I’m one who generally enjoy SyFy Saturday night movies and their event mini-series. Neverland was, surprisingly, really good and I liked some of their more recent originals like Morlocks and Zombie Apocalypse. They aren’t meant to be high art, just time wasters.
This movie has Donald Sutherland as an evil Pirate Captain? I’m there. The movie starts off with Sutherland as Captain Flint betraying his crew. We quickly meet Long John Silver (Eddie Izzard) and his fellow crew mate Ben Gunn (Elijah Wood). Did I mention how weird this cast is? The opening 30 minutes of this, I couldn’t get over how weird this cast is, but eventually everyone grew on me.
I really enjoyed the performance of young Toby Regbo as Jim Hawkins the young lad who discovers the treasure map that sets everything in motion. Donald Sutherland is not even in it until the end. Which is a good thing because he was just goofy in the beginning. But watching Sutherland always makes me laugh – even though it is usually unintentional.
Eddie Izzard is just creepy as Long John Silver, especially when he walks and the camera pulls back and we see he doesn’t even have a peg leg. He’s rightfully angry from being portrayed and you never quite know what his game is.
The international quality of the crew and cast provides a sense of realism to the film. Back in those days, Pirates were probably the most class agnostic group of people and those ships featured an international hodgepodge of malcontents.
Music Video Director Steve Barron (who worked with the likes of Michael Jackson and David Bowie) does a fine job with this production. Everything about this movie and the world feels authentic. Great costumes and it looks like they used a real ship. There are some really nice wide angle shots of the ship against the ocean and a fun moment where everyone on the boat starts singing a cool old pirate song.
Writer Stewart Harcourt does a nice job with the story. The pacing is a bit slow and labored, all of the commercial breaks is going to stretch the average viewer’s patience but the final hour makes the build up worthwhile.
Final Grade C+