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September 28, 2013

Movie Review: The Island (Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack)

Peter Benchley's always seemed to have a hankering for the horrors of the sea. It also helps that he was damn good at constructing a story that’s riveting to readers. Whether it's creatures with Jaws and The Beast or with diamond thieves in The Deep the scribe did superb work using the dangers of the ocean to his advantage. In The Island he takes pirates and does pretty much the same thing with some twists here and there. Michael Ritchie (The Bad News Bears, Fletch) did the honors of directing this horror/action hybrid film adaption that's now being released for the first time ever in a Blu-ray and DVD Combo pack from Scream Factory.

Michael Caine (The Hand, The Dark Knight) plays the role of reporter, Blair Maynard, who has been investigating the mysterious deaths of vacationers and fisherman out in the Caribbean. Maynard takes it upon himself to grab his son and go to the "mysterious" area and find out exactly what's going on. Of course, it's not that easy for Blair as his plane crash lands and he becomes stuck on an island that may just be the point of trouble.

It isn't too long before the father and son are captured by a group of snarling, stinky pirates led by John David Nau (David Warner, The Omen, Cross of Iron). Much of the horror elements in The Island are strictly in the first act - from there on we're treated to an adventure and some unexpected comedic moments. As we hit the midway point of the film Caine seems to be escaping every 15 minutes from the pirates, then getting recaptured, and brought back to pirate camp. This can seem a little plodding in these particular areas but it doesn't really hurt the overall enjoyment of the film.

The movie is surprisingly gory in spots - some of the pirate attacks are especially splattery - and we also get treated to some very welcome ridiculousness that may have some viewers rolling in laughter. For instance, there's a particular scene that alone may make this Blu-ray worth a purchase. Nau's group takes over a boat with a kung-fu practicing half-shirt wearing dude aboard. In what also looks to be daisy-dukes the karate master puts up a fight against the savages for few amusing moments. I had to re-watch this because I was laughing so hard from watching this guy fend off the pirates with some seriously dynamite moves. 

The performances are good here, with Warner easily upstaging Caine as our villain. Justin Frank isn't bad either as Maynerd's bratty son who really gives his dad the shaft when he gets chummy with the bad guys - so he can be a buccaneer.

Scream Factory's transfer of this release is on par with previous Scream Factory releases, looking fantastic with its strong colors and pristine element. Henri Decae's cinematography is that much more vivid with the care put into this fine restoration. This Blu-ray release of The Island is indeed an upgrade on any previous release. Not too many extras are added but we do get a cool trailer for The Island as well as  other Scream Factory titles.

The Island is really an amusing mix of genres that will surely appeal cult film fans who can appreciate a horror/action/adventure hybrid. Scream Factory‘s Blu-ray and DVD combo pack is a fine addition to the already amazing line of Scream Factory titles.       

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