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(Review originally written at 18 February 2008)

"Cutthroat Island" has gotten an horrible reputation, due to the fact that this is the biggest box office loss of all time. The movie actually managed to make Carolco Pictures go bankrupt. The company who brought us pictures like the first three Rambo movies, "Total Recall", "Jacob's Ladder", "Terminator 2: Judgment Day", "Basic Instinct", "Total Recall" and "Stargate". It's actually in the Guinness Book of World Records as the biggest loss of money for a film company ever. In that regard it's pretty amazing that director Renny Harlin is still working in the business, on also fairly large movies.

But of course "Cutthroat Island" is far from the worst movie of all time. It's action packed fun non-sense, that is being pulled down as a movie by its script and wrong casting choices.

Of course director Renny Harlin wanted to cast his newly wed wife (and of course they are already divorced a couple of years later again) as the movie's main lead. It's not necessary that fact that a woman plays the main part in a pirate movie that makes it bad but it's the fact that Geena Davis isn't showing her greatest skills in this movie. The movie also isn't being helped by the lack of chemistry between Davis and Matthew Modine. But in his defense, he was a last minute addition to the cast, after several actors already declined the role. Frank Langella on the other hand goes deliciously over the top as the movie its ruthless main pirate villain. I guess he must have really had fun playing in this movie. To bad that none of the other actors really put any fun in their roles.

There lats perhaps one problem of the movie; it's too serious all. The movie was obviously an attempt to put new life into the pirate/swashbuckler genre. After the failure of this movie, the swashbuckler genre seemed pretty death, simply because no film company dared to make another pirate movie again, until "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl", which came an unexpected huge success.

The movie has a quite simplistic dark, serious color tone and atmosphere. Some more colors could had done wonders and would had made the movie a more interesting to watch. It now instead tries to be an hard entertaining action flick, with big stunts, explosions and fights but miraculously with no blood in it.

At its time this movie was really big because of its stunt work. It also was one of the most expensive movies of its time with an close to an 100 million dollar budget. This big budget can be seen back on the screen, since this movie is an almost non stop action flick, with constant chases and explosions. This however of course truly goes at the expense of the story. The movie actually features one of the most awesome looking explosions in movie history, toward the end of the movie. It's one of my all time favorite movie explosions. Yes, I'm weird.

It's story is way to simplistic and it's of course about a treasure hunt. The movie basically features all of the clich├ęs the genre has to offer. It therefore is also predictable and perhaps even a bit tiresome to watch.

Basically the biggest reason why you should ever watch this movie is the musical score by John Debney and performed by the London Symphony Orchestra. Can you just imaging how bad this movie would had been without its musical score? I even dare to say that it is the very musical score which is the reason why this still is a watchable movie. It certainly is a reason for me to watch this movie once every few years. The score is totally overblown yes but it's oh so brilliant and sweeping. It's actually pretty funny how in some sequences absolutely nothing interesting or spectacular is happening but the musical score still manages to make it sound as if the most exciting and biggest thing in movie history is happening on screen.

Yes it's a very well watchable movie, that perhaps is also better than the reputation given to it but it's also way too flawed to call this a great one as well.

6/10

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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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