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Randal Kleiser
Brooke Shields, Christopher Atkins
Writing Credits:
Henry De Vere Stacpoole (novel), Douglas Day Stewart

Two young children are swept up on a desert island after a shipwreck. The film follows them as they grow up and mature, without the intervention of adults.

Box Office:
$4.5 million.
Domestic Gross
$58.853 million.

Rated R

Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9
Fullscreen 1.33:1
English Dolby 2.0
Spanish Dolby 2.0

Runtime: 105 min.
Price: $19.94
Release Date: 2/1/2005

Double Feature with Return to the Blue Lagoon.

• Audio Commentary with Director Randal Kleiser and Actor Brooke Shields
• Audio Commentary with Director Randal Kleiser and Actor Christopher Atkins
• “Brooke Shields’ Photo Album”
• Original Featurette
• Trailer
• Talent Files


Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.


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Blue Lagoon: Double Feature Edition (1980)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 11, 2005)

Boy, did The Blue Lagoon raise a fuss when it came out in 1980. Brooke Shields had become a star more for her semi-taboo sex appeal than for her questionable talent. The issues arose due to her age; she was still firmly in jailbait territory when she made Lagoon and her infamous series of ads for Calvin Klein jeans. In that Reagan-electing, Moral Majority-espousing age, those appearances definitely stirred things up across the US.

I know that I and my other geeky 13-year-old friends certainly got worked into a lather with desire to see Lagoon. Bizarrely, I got my wish while in Minnesota for my grandparents' fiftieth anniversary that August. While the grown-ups were at some fancy-pants dinner, we kids - who ranged from twelve to nineteen - were on our own. With our parents' approval, some of my cousins and I tried to see Lagoon. My cousin Mike was eighteen, so we figured he'd have no problem buying us the tickets. However, the fussbudgets at the box office insisted that the purchaser had to be a parent or guardian and my (obnoxious) powers of persuasion could not convince her otherwise. (Yes, I was a feisty little brat - the more things change...)

Anyway, eventually we (I) badgered my stepmother into coming over to the theater and buying the tickets for us. In retrospect, I'm pretty embarrassed that I pursued this so hard, but at the time it was a serious matter of principle! As such, I was damned pleased to get the others and myself into the theater.

I wish I could relate that we all had a swell time at Lagoon, but as I recall, we thought it pretty much sucked. Well, political victories aren't always pleasant!

Despite the fact that it did pretty well at the box office and caused such a stir, The Blue Lagoon hasn't maintained much of a profile among the public since 1980. I know I hadn't spent much time thinking about it over the past few decades. Nonetheless, I was vaguely intrigued to watch it again when it came out on DVD.

"Vaguely intrigued" should not be confused with "excited" or "really interested". It simply means that I was curious to review the film with my theoretically more adult eyes. Would my 37-year-old self see things that were over the head of my barely teenaged incarnation? Nope - the movie still sucks. In fact, I probably dislike it more now than I did then, since it no longer boasts even that basic charge that came with its semi-taboo status.

The Blue Lagoon is a bad movie, a really bad movie that has no real reason to exist other than as semi-soft porn. I dunno, I guess it's possible that someone out there finds its storyline - such that it is - compelling and cares about its characters, but I have a hard time imagining that. This dull piece of trash did nothing for me on either account.

The adventure scenes aren't adventurous, the sex scenes aren't sexy, and the occasional attempts at comedy aren't funny. Did I miss anything? Oh yeah - any attempts at emotion or drama fall completely flat, largely because I really did not care about these characters.

Part of my disinterest in our protagonists has to do with the writing - they're very sketchy and flat characters - but most of it has to do with the acting. Shields never was much of a performer, though I guess she improved some over the years. While it was a dismal show, she displayed some comedic flair on Suddenly Susan. No such skill was on display in Lagoon, however; she seems consistently wooden and blah.

Compared to castmate Christopher Atkins, however, Shields appeared to be the next Meryl Streep. His performance may well be one of the worst that I've ever seen. Granted, he only really needed to be a hunky presence, and he does that acceptably, but that's all he could do. The scenery - human and otherwise - is the real star of this show, which is good because the foliage and wildlife on the island outperform Atkins. Where did they find this guy? Your average fifth grade Christmas play offers higher quality acting.

I won't knock Leo McKern's performance as Paddy too hard, just because the guy was fun in Help!, but he took his attitude from the "arrr!" school of sea captains. William Daniels makes a brief but sad appearance as well. He mainly looks like he wishes he wasn't there.

That makes two of us. Now I've suffered through this disaster twice in my life, and I hope I never have to do so again. The Blue Lagoon is a genuinely terrible piece of filmmaking, one that would have been forgotten long ago were it not for the movie's infamous jailbait overtones. That's not a great stake upon which to make a reputation.

The DVD Grades: Picture B/ Audio B+/ Bonus B

The Blue Lagoon appears in both an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 and in a fullscreen version on this double-sided, single-layered DVD; the widescreen image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Only the letterboxed picture was reviewed for this article. Much of the picture looked excellent, but some inconsistencies occurred.

Sharpness varied slightly throughout the film but it tended to be crisp. Only on rare occasions did definition seem slightly soft. Instead, the flick usually came across as detailed and concise. No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects occurred, and only a sliver of edge enhancement manifested itself.

Print quality occasionally betrayed some problems, though they mostly resided in the first act. I noticed periodic examples of specks, grit, and slightly excessive grain. Though they never became intense, they led to a few minor distractions. Again, these occurred mainly in the flick’s initial half-hour or so, as the rest of it looked cleaner.

Colors generally looked bold and were a strong point. The movie’s tropical setting offered much "eye candy". At times hues seemed ever-so-slightly flat, but those examples were the exception. Black levels usually seemed tight, but some day-for-night shots led to a few low-light images that lacked great clarity. Since the vast majority of Lagoon occurred in daylight, that was not often a concern, but it did mar the nighttime scenes. Nonetheless, the image of The Blue Lagoon seemed reasonably above average.

I received a pleasant surprise from the atypically strong Dolby Surround 2.0 soundtrack. The audio offered a much more vibrant and flamboyant presentation than I'd expect from a 1980 release. The front soundstage seemed nicely active, with a fair amount of audio localized to the right and left speakers. Not much panning occurred between channels, but the image nonetheless seemed pretty wide at times. The rear speakers also provided a moderately active component. The surrounds didn't compare with modern movies, of course, but they offered some decent ambient effects and helped bolster the musical score.

That music was the strongest point of the soundtrack. The score sounded very lush and rich and it spread out nicely through all of the channels. Dialogue and effects didn’t appear quite as true and natural as the music. In general they were acceptably clear and distinctive, though without tremendous definition. The score really impressed me, though, and it helped bolster my grade to a “B+”. Again, the mix didn’t compare with modern efforts, but it was much more impressive than usual for a 25-year-old flick.

The DVD’s producers haven't exactly knocked themselves out for the supplemental features of The Blue Lagoon, but there are a few choice extras here. The biggest draws are the two separate audio commentaries. The first comes from director Randal Kleiser, writer Douglas Day Stewart, and actor Brooke Shields, all of whom sit together for a running, screen-specific discussion. Shield doesn’t appear until around the start of the second act; essentially, she comes into the chat at about the same time she enters the film.

A strong commentary, this one covers all sorts of useful topics. Notes about the location abound, as we find out all of the various challenges presented by the primitive setting. We also learn a lot about the script and changes from the original novel, casting issues, the film’s look, its music, and general thematic notions.

In addition to a lot of concrete data, we hear many fun anecdotes. Shields proves most effective in that regard, as she tosses out enjoyable stories such as how the movie’s baby went to town on her blossoming bosom. A few short spots of dead air occur, and the praise becomes a little thick at times, but this remains a likable and informative piece.

For the second track, we hear from Kleiser and actor Christopher Atkins in another running, screen-specific chat for which the pair sit together. Even more anecdotal than the first commentary, this one covers a little of the same material but usually manages to avoid repetition. Among topics discussed, we hear about casting, cinematographer Nestor Almendros and the movie’s look, issues connected to the nudity, location challenges, and the movie’s success.

Kleiser and Atkins interact well, and the actor manages to become a very active part of the proceedings. He tosses out many entertaining stories about his experiences and makes this a fun chat. If Atkins had been half this personable and charming in the movie, it might’ve been effective. In any case, the commentary presents a nice mixture of production notes and loose anecdotes to become very useful and enjoyable.

We also see a nine-minute and five-second featurette that comes from the period of the film's 1980 release. Called An Adventure In Filmmaking - the Making of The Blue Lagoon, it's fairly interesting. Obviously its brevity precludes it from offering an in-depth detailing of the film's creation, but it hits the important notes via comments from Kleiser, Atkins and Shields. It also offers some cool bits like Atkins' unsurprisingly poor screen test and a scene from the original 1948 Blue Lagoon. We learn most of the information in the commentaries, but this one includes some nice archival shots.

Next we find Brooke Shields' Photo Album, a collection of 50 still photographs taken during the production. Other than some mildly sexy bikini shots of Brooke, I thought these were less interesting than most production photos, and I'm not a fan of the genre as it is.

My dislike of the pictures may have been exacerbated by the DVD's weak execution. The braintrust at Columbia can't leave well enough alone and present still photos in a normal, user-friendly manner. Here they create an animation of a photo album and a page "flips" when you go to the next picture. This is cute for about five seconds and then just becomes annoying, especially since this slows down your access; it takes much longer than it should to skip from picture to picture. Also, the "photo album" frame means that the pictures themselves rarely take up more than half of the space available on your TV. This is annoying because it makes the photos much smaller than they should be.

Finally, the DVD includes a silly trailer and some poorly done talent biographies for actors Shields, Atkins, Leo McKern and William Daniels plus Kleiser and Stewart. They offer nothing more than very basic facts and filmographies.

Recommendation time, and you don't need a weatherman to tell which way the wind blows. You don't need Roger Ebert to tell you that The Blue Lagoon blows as well. The film caused a smutty sensation in 1980 but stands as a simply atrocious movie when divorced from those issues. The DVD presents generally solid picture and sound along with a roster of extras that includes two very entertaining audio commentaries. I can’t complain about the DVD, as it works well. Too bad the movie itself is a disaster.

Note: this version of The Blue Lagoon came to me as part of a “double feature” package along with the 1991 sequel Return to the Blue Lagoon. It’s also available on its own, and I believe both DVDs are identical; I think that the “double feature” simply pairs the two in one set for a bargain price.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.6842 Stars Number of Votes: 19
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