The Island [Blu-Ray] Michael Ritchie

The Island [Blu-Ray]Michael Ritchie
Loosely adapted from the novel of the same name by Jaws author Peter Benchley, The Island reiterates anxieties of the unknown and unseen, similarly positing wide-open expanses of water as a death trap and carving a bit of admonitory into the dominant cultural romanticising of balmy paradises and off-shore exploration. But where Jaws targeted the individual vacationer and tourist, having a shark imperil those that disobey lifeguard rules or embrace hedonistic abandon, The Island reaches further into the Caribbean, striking fear in those that isolate themselves in unexplored areas removed from the creature comforts of modern day society. After a series of yachts go missing, as shown in rather graphic opening sequence of axe murdering and throat slashing by unknown mid-ocean invaders, investigative reporter Blair Maynard (Michael Caine) sets sail with son Justin (Jeffrey Frank) to solve the mystery first-hand. As this premise is set, a few nods to definitions of masculinity arise, with Maynard teaching his son to shoot and offering the occasional sidebar tidbit about impending manhood. These tenuous thematic hints eventually become the focus when an airplane accident leaves the pair stranded on an island inhabited by violent, inbred pirates who eschew modern day corruption (as they call it) in favour of rudimentary, chaotic, self-serving impulses, killing anyone that floats by to steal their goods and children. Smartly, amidst this rather generic survivalist narrative, wherein Blair spends the majority of the movie trying to outwit or escape his captives, there is some consciousness of gender constraints, with the male egos serving only their propagation and immediate needs, while the female pirate (Angela Punch McGregor) has a more complex understanding of her surroundings and the needs of others. But beyond these hesitant prods at gender deconstruction and the very nature of male id as defined by perpetual boyhood, there isn't much about this 1980 throwaway thriller that stands the test of time. It fits in as a mediocre entry into the ever-expanding canon of xenophobic horrors, pointing out the fears of less civilized cultures and the unknown, but has nothing particularly clever to say beyond the obvious, which is particularly evident when a product of modern technology resolves the conflict via efficient mass slaughter. No supplements are included with the Blu-Ray release, but there is a mid-movie fight sequence that features a karate superstar in speedos and a midriff-baring jean shirt fighting various pirates while making Enter the Dragon noises. It doesn't fit the tone or style of the movie whatsoever. (Shout! Factory)