Cutthroat Island: ‘rollicking matinee-5M8 fomp'


Faster than a scuttled galleon. Renny Harlin's big budget pirate spectacular sank without trace at the American box ' office. Ever since leaving port. it had been a troubled production scheduled star Michael Douglas jumped ships. production company Carolco folded under financial pressure and the distributors who stepped in showed a distinct lack of promotional commitment. And so the film‘s skull- and-crosslmnes is pretty much flying at half mast as it arrives on these shores. Geena Davis is Morgan Adams. daughter of Black Harry Adams. who ' inherits her father's ship. crew and mean reputation when she uses a map tattooed on her dead dad's scalp to locate a legendary island and its hidden treasure. At her side is the roguish William Shaw (Matthew Modine). an educated adventurer languishing as her slave. while on her tail is her villainous

' uncle Captain Dawg Brown (Frank PIRATE onenrune Lungm

For the most part. Curr/rmai Island is a rollicking. matinee-style romp through all the peg-leg cliches of the genre. Harlin. however. relies too heavily on explosions. preferring to simply throw cash at the screen and go for a big bang rather than entertain the audience with more thought—out action sequences in particular. the climactic cannon light between the two pirate ships jtrst goes on and on. And on and on.

That said. Modine is a dashing comic fop to Davis‘s hard-punching. groin- kicking heroine. and their feisty romantic sparring is a welcome break from the acrobatics. A mention too for Scottish bluesman Tam White. the ship‘s doctor. whose name in the credits is placed one notch above the performing monkey. (Alan h'lorrison)

(Tall/iraar Island (/5) (Kenny Harlin. US. I995) (ieena Davis. Mall/ten- Mmline. Frank Langella. /23 wins. I’rmn Fri 29. General release.

EITHE— sor. eruro

There are few surprises in this routine Steve Martin vehicle. which seems to be aimed at the kiddies' sense of humour. If so. the 50s TV show with Phil Silvers is probably not well known to the younger generation. which could help things a bit.

By turns ftrnny and boring. the film version has the scam-boy Master Sergeant caught up in a private vendetta with prickly Major Thorn (Phil Hartman) whom he long ago sabotaged. Thorn visits Fort Baxter to assess its disasterous hover-tank project and looks set to do the dirty on the whole base. Instead. he stays on to stitch up Bilko and steal his disillusioned fiancee Rita (Glenne Headly).

There are some laughs as l’aprelli.

Jungle Book. But like the digitally-

l)oberman and the other old-names- with-new-faces try to conceal Bilko's ambling operation from Thorn the ar'racks folds out into a casino. Also ood are straight-faced Colonel Hall (Dan Aykroyd) and the laconic tank officer (Austin l’endleton). who sounds like Kaa the snake from Disney‘s

composited hover-tank. Sgt. Bil/m has a hit too much sheen and no real firepower.

Jonathan Lynn's rock 'n‘ roll. rise ‘n' shine direction is line. btrt Martin is long overdue a script that really suits his zaniness. There again. he might. like Robin Williarris and less comparany Tom Hanks. find success by trying more diverse material. But maybe. like Bilko. he just can‘t resist the cash. (Gio MacDonald) 5g]. Bil/m (PG) (Jonathan Lynn. US. I995) Steve Martin. [)an xiv/trawl. l’liil Harnnan. 95 mins. Front Fri 29. General release.

Sgt. Bllko: ‘no real ilrepower'

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an 2: ‘tlashy graphics’


Light years away from Stephen King’s original horror tale, Farhad Mann’s cautionary sci-ti sequel strives tor zeitgeist status but comes across as yet another anti-corporate kids adventure.

In a near-future made up oi Blade Runner cast-oils, mad virtual reality genius .lobe (Matt Frewer taking .lett Fahey’s part), having survived the explosion at the end of the 1992 film minus his legs, is working tor the Virtual Light Institute on a chip which will connect all the world’s computer systems and their data.

Naturally, his intentions include global domination, and so he must be stopped. Enter the chip’s inventor, Beniamin Trace (Patrick Bergln), who withdrew from society atter losing control of his project. lIe’s lured back to do techno-battle, aided by Jobe’s

l old iriend Peter (Austin O’Brien again),


now a subway-dwelling hacker, and Ely Pouget’s Cori, a doctor at the Institute and, handily enough, Trace’s old tlame.

Impressive though the computer- generated visuals are - allowing for the odd Tron flashback - they do little to mask a thoroughly ordinary plot, irom the money-mad company boss to the underused temale lead to the impregnable building with an unguarded waste-disposal chute.

Frewer is uncomfortany similar to his former sell as Max Headroom, inspiring derision more than tear, while Bergin is saddled with a bunch of teenagers extraneous to the action and dialogue to make his mouth curl. Like Johnny Mnemonic, this is another movie where flashy graphics and shiny hardware have been preferred to the ability to tell believable stories, and the gaps are painfully obvious. (Simon Wardell)

Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace (12) (Farnad Mann, US, 1995) Matt Frewer, Patrick Bergin, Ely

Pouget. mmins. From Fri 29. General i


Cyclo: ‘uncompromising look into a moral abyss’

The second film from the gifted Vietnamese director of Seen! ()_f'(ireen Papaya is a startling contrast to that earlier movie's oriental delicacy and sensitivity. This time. the unsuspecting audience may find themselves unprepared for a work whose descent into despairing psychosis is pitched at such a degree ofestrerrrity.

Shot on location in bustling lIo (‘hi Mirth City. its protagonist is a teenage ‘cyclo' or pedal- cab driver. whose dreams of a better life for himself and his slum-dwelling family are dashed when his hired vehicle is stolen by a rival gang. In order to pay back the owner. an imperious madam with a mentally handicapped son. he drifts into a criminal gang whose activities include theft. drugs. killing. torture and (unknown to the cyclo himself) the prostitution of his schoolgirl sister.

Tran Anh l-lung's film is an uncompromising look into a moral abyss. It starts out like Bicycle Thieves. btrt substitutes Neo-Realist sentimentality for Bressonian distance. prompting the viewer into contributing their own response to events that spiral with increasing ferocity to an almost abstract plane of aberration. The actors' unbelievable courage in the face of the iilmmaker's excessive demands is to be noted. btit it's Tran Anh Hung's spell-binding confidence and control that jets this astonishing picture straight into the Best Of The Year territory. (Trevor Johnston)

Cvelo (18) (Tran An/t Hung, Frant'e/Wernam. I995) Le Van Ixn'. Tran Na Yen K Ire. 'I'mrv Lea/lg Cliia Wai. 129 mins. From Fri 22: Edinburgh Film/muse.

The List 22 Mar-4 Apr 1996 23