The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: LionsGate - 1996
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 119 Minutes
Disc Format: BD-25
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.35:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio, French Dolby Stereo
Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish
Starring: Geena Davis, Matthew Modine, Frank Langella, Maury Chakin, Stan Shaw, Patrick Malahide
Directed by: Renny Harlin
Music by: John Debney
Written by: Robert King & Marc Norman
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: August 11, 2009
"Prepare your weapons"
After the death of her father, Morgan Adams (Davis) discovers part of a treasure map tattooed on his head. With the help of William Shaw (Modine), a convict she buys at an auction, Morgan hits the high seas to recover the remaining sections. However, she is not alone: her murderous uncle Dawg (Langella), who holds the puzzle's final piece, also seeks the gold. With a mutinous crew and the soldiers of the British crown in hot pursuit, Morgan and William set sail for Cutthroat Island, where the treasure - and danger - awaits.
From the mid 1980s through the mid 1990s Geena Davis had a string of successful films that ranged in genre. It seemed that there was little that she couldn't do. Admittedly I am a fan and I like her in pretty much everything I have seen her in. Released in 1995 Cutthroat Island featured an established big budget action director in Renny Harlin (Die hard 2 and Cliff hanger), a good sized budget, and three big name stars in Matthew Modine, Frank Langella and Geena Davis. The story revolves around Davis' character Morgan Adams, the daughter of pirate captain Black Harry. When Black Harry is betrayed and mortally wounded he turns to Morgan with his dying breath and reveals the location of a third of a treasure map which shows the way to Cutthroat Island and its legendary treasure. The remaining two thirds of the map are each held by Morgan's two uncle's Dawg (Langella) and Mordachai (Murcell). Black Harry tells Morgan to Captain his ship/crew and seek out Mordachai for help in dealing with the treacherous and treasure hungry Dawg. After determining that the map is written in Latin she seeks out someone who can interpret it. This brings her together with the slick talking thief/con man William Shaw (Modine). He is motivated by greed and self preservation but has an endearing side that eventually wins Morgan over. Captain Dawg is also in pursuit of the remaining map pieces and will stop at nothing to obtain them and the treasure. As they each move to secure the remaining third of the map treachery is afoot. Once the location of the island and treasure is revealed it becomes evident that blood is not thicker than water and only one Captain will be standing in this swashbuckling action adventure.
I haven't seen this movie in a number of years. I remember it being one of the early films released on DVD which is when I first saw it. I like its fast pace and blended elements that combine plenty of action with a fun, light spirited story that has just enough of a knifes edge to keep it from feeling campy. Davis has no trouble portraying this strong, leading character and her chemistry with Modine is solid. Frank Langella is a fine actor who has no trouble playing the role of the bad guy you love to hate. Rex Linn and Stan Shaw are two seasoned character actors who lend credibility and balance to the supporting cast. The script is a little shallow but the characters are drawn well and Director Renny Harlin knows how to stage an action film. This certainly isn't Master and Commander but it's an entertaining popcorn movie that I consider to be a guilty pleasure.
The rating is for some strong pirate action/violence and brief sensuality.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Cutthroat Island comes to Blu-ray from LionsGate featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 20 mbps and lossless DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.4 mbps.
This is a great looking high definition Blu-ray catalog release from LionsGate. Images have a resplendent quality with punchy contrast and discernibly crisp delineation and multi-dimensional acuity. The period clothing reveals the depth of the color range and exhibits vibrant primaries and vivid textures that sparkle in high definition. I appreciated the lucid quality and clearly defined edges that enhanced visual perspective during the majority of the presentation. There is some intrinsic focus related issues that occasionally soften certain segments but this appeared camera angle/lighting dependent. Blacks are stable with extended dynamic range, and deep gradational highlights that pop when onscreen with mixed content. Shadow detail is excellent which provides good visibility in sequences that utilize low lighting and contain dark elements. This increased visibility and gave those scenes greater depth of field. The light grainy structure was readily apparent and served to give the video an appreciably filmic quality. From what I could see there were no egregious signs of fidelity degrading digital noise reduction and other than some minor edge enhancement I didn't see any overtly distracting artifacts.
This 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack was just as impressive. This is a fairly in your face type of sound mix that features bombastic elements that have a refined and open delivery that is not to be underestimated despite its age. This film uses a complex sound design that has to maintain a delicate balance so the plethora of sound effects, music and dialogue within the soundtrack can be clearly and easily interpreted by the audience. Dialogue was distinctly perceptible and well articulated so that even subtle changes in the inflection of the voices among the cast was detectable. Sound effects were accurately placed within the sound field which established a tight correlation between the onscreen information and what was being heard within the room. This created an immersive and engaging soundscape that wasn't overly aggressive but was abundantly rich in detail. I found that subtle background effects such as the sounds of the open aired jungle or the rotating sound of a gull as flies from right rear and passes behind the listen position (in chapter 10 as Morgan and William scale the cliff face) had a natural, enveloping and audible presence. John Debney's music score was unquestionably the star of the show and it sounded magnificent throughout the film. It appreciably enhanced the action based sequences as the rousing, orchestrated instrumentation enhanced the film's swashbuckling spirit. It was accentuated by the smooth timbre of the brass and the low frequency punch of the bass drum/timpani. The sound mix delivers rich, well extended bass response that provided tactilely dynamic impact that was occasionally room filling. This is a fun and engaging lossless surround mix that elevates this home theater presentation.
- Audio commentary by director Renny Harlin
- Making of featurette - 6 minutes
- Trailer - Theatrical & teaser
Cutthroat Island is a fun, action based pirate adventure that may not have the intensity and depth of the better films in it genre but it entertains nonetheless. For me it remains a film which I consider a guilty pleasure that I like to revisit from time to time. Fans are sure to appreciate its presentation on Blu-ray Disc from LionsGate. It features excellent video and reference quality DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio sound. Unfortunately its abysmal selection of bonus supplements is disappointing. Regardless, it has found a home in my collection and is an easy upgrade recommendation for fans.
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews
Reference Review System:
JVC DLA-RS20 1080p High Definition Front Projector (Calibrated by Jeff Meier)
Carada Precision Brilliant White 96" Screen
Oppo BDP-83 Universal disc/Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Oppo 970HD universal disc DVD Player (480i HDMI)
Denon AVR 5308CI THX Ultra 2 Preamp/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
Philips TSU9400 Pro Series Touch Panel Remote Control
Canton "Ergo" Series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SV Sound PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Furman SPR-20i Stable Power Regulator
Wireworld, VizionWare, Audioquest, Best Deal Cables - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package