Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Now That Everyone Loves Pirate Movies, Let’s Watch Cutthroat Island

Underrated and unappreciated, Cutthroat Island (1995) had nothing intrinsically wrong with it, except for the fact that it was a modern movie from a largely forgotten genre that was most popular 60 years earlier with Errol Flynn’s Captain Blood (1935) or Tyrone Power’s The Black Swan (1942), and the revolutionary (it was the 90’s, sorry) casting of a female action hero.  Geena Davis, most famous at the time for Thelma and Louise (1991) and A League of Their Own (1992) had evolved into more of a chick flick actor, even though everyone forgets that she also starred in Beetlejuice (1988) and The Fly (1986). 
With her six-foot frame and easy smile, she had the physical presence and natural charisma to play a lady pirate queen, and along with the director of Die Hard 2 (1990) and Frank Langella as the villain, the movie should have been a no-brainer.  But regrettably, audiences are fickle, and nobody was interested in seeing Geena Davis sword fighting and swinging from ropes, even if she was wearing a corset.
Geena Davis portrayed Captain Morgan (like the rum, get it) Adams, the scourge of 17th Century Jamaica, while Matthew Modine was William Shaw, the gentleman scoundrel, doing his best Wesley from The Princess Bride (1987) impression.  The aforementioned Frank Langella is Dawg Brown, pirate captain and bad guy.  There’s a convoluted plot buried involving treasure on an island, but nobody goes to this movie for stories, you go for sword fights, stunts and costumes, and Cutthroat Island has just as much as the more successful Disney franchise, but without any distracting supernatural element.  (I know, I love scary stuff, it’s just unnecessary in a pirate movie).
Geena Davis is refreshing and to her credit, doesn't even attempt a British accent, she’s just a two-fisted pirate queen; crashing smashing swinging and slashing through every scene and daring the men have to keep up with her.  Unfortunately, audiences weren’t comfortable seeing women take a punch, Xena: Warrior Princess had just been released, and Buffy and Leeloo from The Fifth Element were two years away.  Though when you think about it, there was still a backlash in 2015 with Charlize Theron’s brillian Imperator Furiosa, so maybe we haven’t progressed as far as we like to think.  Director/then husband Renny Harlin tried again to transform his wife into an action hero with The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996), with similar results.
Look out for Angus Wright who portrayed Mr. Trotter.  You saw him most recently as “Hammerhead Captain” in Rogue One (2016).

my first novel?  thanks for asking:)  it’s a the first book in a 4-volume supernatural martial arts series chock full of killer kung-fu witches, haunted carnivals, punk rock assassins, and a 24-hour diner with the best pie in town…
read for free on kindle unlimited or buy the paperback, available at fine bookstores everywhere (amazon).