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Steve Barron
Eddie Izzard, Donald Sutherland, Elijah Wood, Toby Regbo, Rupert Penry-Jones, Daniel Mays, Philip Glenister
Writing Credits:
Stewart Harcourt, Robert Louis Stevenson (novel)

Young Jim Hawkins is the only one who can sucessfully get a schooner to a legendary Island known for buried Treasure. But aboard the ship is a mysterious cook named John Silver, whose true motivation on the journey challenges Jim's trust in the entire crew.

Rated NA

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 183 min.
Price: $29.95
Release Date: 7/24/2012

• Audio Commentary with Director Steve Barron and Actor Eddie Izzard
• “The Making of Treasure Island” Featurette
• Cast Interviews
• “A Tour of the Hispaniola” Featurette
• “Anatomy of a Stunt” Featurette
• Trailer


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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Treasure Island [Blu-Ray] (2012)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 6, 2012)

Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1883 classic gets another adaptation via the 2012 mini-series Treasure Island. Set in the 18th century, a preface shows us the greedy, treacherous actions of ship captain Flint (Donald Sutherland). He and his crew have managed to steal a fortune over time, but Flint decides to keep it all for himself and a select number of colleagues. This means he tosses most of his crew off the boat – and quartermaster John Silver (Eddie Izzard) loses his leg in the process.

From there we meet Jim Hawkins (Toby Regbo), a young man whose father dies and leaves him alone with his mother Meg (Shirley Henderson) and their operation of the Benbow Inn. Into their midst comes a mystery man who initially just refers to himself as “the Captain”, but Jim eventually learns he’s named Billy Bones (David Harewood). He tells of his service with Flint – and pays Jim to warn him if any “seafaring men” come into view.

Eventually Black Dog (Sean Gilder), one of the sailors Flint tossed off his ship, finds Bones and interrogates him to find out what happened to all the treasure. Bones relates that Flint buried the loot on some mysterious island but tells no more. He claims he doesn’t know the location of the map to find this location, but this isn’t true; when Bones dies, Jim and Meg sort through his belongings and find the document in question.

Jim shows this to Inn resident Dr. Livesey (Daniel Mays) and this sets off a quest. Livesey thinks that they can obtain the treasure and live like kings, so he gets financial backing for an expedition. Jim goes along as well – as does Silver, now presented as a cook who doesn’t reveal his past. We follow the adventure and its complications.

When you adapt a property as old and well trod as Treasure Island, you encounter a dilemma: do you stay close to the source or do you take substantial liberties? If you go the first path, you run the risk of just offering the same old, same old, but if you opt for the latter, you take the chance that your product will seem different for no good reason.

This Island definitely takes its liberties, and I’m fine with movies that change their source material – as long as those alterations make sense. For instance, when 2002’s Spider-Man made Mary Jane the life-long apple of Peter’s eye, I thought this worked and deepened the emotional connection. However, I felt less happy about the change in the scene when Peter failed to stop the robber; the latter made his inaction seem justified, which ran contrary to the role his hubris played in his uncle’s death.

Anyway, if adaptation changes make sense in the context of the cinematic exploration, I don’t complain. Unfortunately, I don’t think the alterations found in this Island work. We see the impact from literally the start, as the preface aboard Captain Flint’s ship adds something new.

And something unnecessary that spoils much of the story’s suspense. If we meet Silver later in the tale, we encounter him as a mystery man, but here, we know a whole lot about him from minute one. That negatively affects his relationship with Jim, a connection that should be key but here becomes too one-sided.

Speaking of which, this Island lacks a consistent perspective. The novel comes through Jim’s eyes, but the movie fails to engage a particular point of view. It flits from one angle to another, a choice that means it distances the audience from the action. When we go from one view to another so often, we lose orientation and become less engaged.

Not that I think Island would ever fly anyway, as it tells its story in such a nearly random manner. For a story about a daring quest to find treasure, it sure does plod along. We never get any sense of adventure or urgency, as the movie tends to focus on the dankness of the circumstances more than anything else. That’s fine for some material set at sea, but I don’t think it makes sense here; Island tends to play more like a kind of dark thriller than anything else, and that’s a strange choice for this material.

I do think Island improves once it gets to the titular location, though. At that point, it focuses on the various factions and the politics of the matter. This doesn’t quite redeem the flaws of the first half, but at least it gives us something more interesting.

Nonetheless, I have to view the 2012 Island as too meandering and mediocre to be a success. While not without its moments, it lacks the adventure and excitement to do justice to the source material.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B/ Audio B/ Bonus B-

Treasure Island appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Though not great, the movie offered generally good visuals.

Sharpness was usually fine. A few shots could be a little soft, but not to a significant degree. Instead, the program normally appeared concise and accurate. I noticed no issues related to jagged edges, shimmering or edge haloes. No source defects marred the presentation, either.

One wouldn’t anticipate bold tones from a period film like this, and Island went with a pretty stylized look. The image presented fairly golden daytime exteriors and interiors/night shots that tended to be desaturated and fairly colorless. When we got to the titular island, a strong green tint emerged. I thought the Blu-ray represented the choices well. Blacks were pretty deep, but shadows were iffier, as many low-light shots seemed somewhat opaque. The image wasn’t stellar, but it provided positive enough visuals for a “B”.

The DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Treasure Island also seemed good but not great. As one might anticipate, scenes at sea offered the most involving soundscape. These created a nice sense of location, as elements of the setting formed around us. Action scenes offered solid pep and made positive use of the various speakers. General ambience was also fine in the quieter sequences.

Audio quality worked well. Speech was natural and distinctive, and effects sounded clear and accurate. Bass response provided good punch to louder scenes, and music was always vivid and lively. This was a solid “B” soundtrack.

When we shift to the Blu-ray’s extras, we start with an audio commentary from director Steve Barron and actor Eddie Izzard. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific chat about story, characters and adaptation issues, cast and performances, sets and locations, visual design, costumes and influences, camerawork and effects, and a few other areas.

We find a pretty strong discussion here. Yeah, the chat sags at times, but given the length of the program, that doesn’t surprise – or bother – me. We get a good evaluation of the mini-series along with a bit of humor, so this turns into a likable and informative chat.

A few short featurettes follow. The Making of Treasure Island goes for four minutes, two seconds and provides info from Barron, Izzard, executive producers Mark Greenside and Alan Moloney, producer Laurie Borg, and actors Elijah Wood, David Harewood, Toby Regbo, Rupert Penry-Jones and Daniel Mays. They discuss the story’s adaptation, cast, characters and performances, locations, and the movie’s tone. Don’t expect much from this brief promotional piece; it has a smattering of facts but not a lot of meat.

Up next we get a collection of Cast Interviews. These involve Eddie Izzard (2:53), Elijah Wood (3:11), Toby Regbo (2:08) and Philip Glenister and Rupert Penry-Jones (1:59). In these, the actors cover their characters and performances as well as a few other aspects of the production. Like “Making”, there’s not much substance on display, but a few decent nuggets emerge, especially during Izzard’s chat.

For a look at the film’s ship, we go to A Tour of the Hispaniola. This lasts two minutes, three seconds as marine coordinator Dan Malone gives us a look at the set. Brevity becomes a problem, as “Tour” rushes by too quickly to tell us much.

Under Anatomy of a Stunt, we get a one-minute, 15-second clip. Stunt coordinator Manny Siverio and actor Geoff Bell let us know a little about a death scene. Once again, we get a couple of useful tidbits but the piece is too short to do much.

The disc opens with ads for Warehouse 13, Neverland, and Alphas. We also find the Trailer for Island.

Does this skatey-eighth adaptation of Treasure Island bring anything new to the property? Not really. It’s probably darker and moodier than its predecessors, but it also meanders too much and lacks a consistent focus. The Blu-ray delivers pretty positive picture and audio along with supplements led by an engaging commentary. While I like the presentation of the program, the 2012 Island doesn’t move me.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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