Sometimes I review stuff thats cool, or interesting or that was recommended to me. Today I’m going to do something else – review something that was just plainly painful to watch – but kinda funny at the same time.
Both painful to watch and unintentionally hilarious at the same time
Every once in a while you watch a movie that is so bad it almost becomes good again. Survival Island is indisputably a “train wreck” movie – very hard and painful to watch, but morbid curiosity will likely prevent you from changing the channel. It keeps you constantly wondering whether you should laugh or cry. I laughed – a lot in fact – but your millage may vary on your personal resistance to absolute crap.
The movie tries to be a sexy thriller. I say tries, because it fails miserably. Granted, it is somewhat successful at delivery the sexy part (via many, many gratuitous shots of Kelly Brook’s bewbs and butt) it completely and utterly fails at the thriller part. It approaches building suspense the same way it approaches romance – essentially by pointing a finger at it, and yelling “suspense”. The only thing that the movie is not rudely indicating or shoving down your throat is humor. And trust me it does deliver fair dose of unintentional comedy. But because the whole thing is filmed in an overly serious manner, the laughs are subtle and sublime. You laugh at the absurdity of situational drama, at the painfully forced dilemmas, the horribly botched attempt at love triangle, the over the top acting and crazy, out of place randomness of it all. If you do decide to brave this movie, you should definitely see it with some friends, so that you can provide live commentary. The sheer amount of ridiculous moments makes this movie a good candidate for a MST3K night.
The plot is a curious mix. On the surface we have a class role reversal story. A rich couple (played by Billy Zane and Kelly Brook) gets shipwrecked on a deserted island with their servant (played by some random Spanish dude named Juan Pablo Di Pace), who, turns out to be better at dealing with the survival scenario and becomes the de-facto leader of the group. This plot is as old as The Admirable Crichton play written by J. M. Barrie (aka Peter Pan dude). So you take an old and tried formula, and “update it” for modern viewers. How do you update an old classic? Well, seeing how Barrie was actually a weird asexual midget from space (yes, he was – look it up), you may start by putting as many nakid boobers and buttoxen on the screen as possible. Oh, and love triangle – these are always fun. So you add some healthy sexual tension between the wife and the servant (the de-facto alpha male of the island), and tons of jealousy on both sides to fuel the conflict . Oh, and also Voodoo.
Yeah, there is a completely random, and inexplicably stupid Voodoo subplot in this movie. It has pretty much zero effect on the actual story. At random times you will see clips of a woman doing a very silly looking chicken dance, doing silly faces, and humping Voodoo dolls. Yes, humping. Don’t look at me like that – it’s not like I made this movie. As many other scenes, this stuff makes very little sense. You could actually cut out all these scenes, and the main plot would remain intact. There is no real connection between these scenes and the events on the island other than some vague notion that the crazy chicken dance lady is somehow making shit happen for the protagonists. In fact, the film would probably benefit from cutting out these scenes making it more balanced and less random.
But let’s get back to the love triangle thing. It’s a nice idea but it doesn’t pan out that well. It just seems very forced. I’m guessing this is partially due to horrible dialog which makes Star Wars prequels seem like romance masterpieces. I’m serious, this stuff is very close to the “lovely river of loving love” type material.
Or it might be because the characters are just not very likable. Manuel is just an annoying prick. It’s a fact. His survival skills that make him so awesome essentially boil down to one thing: “I have goggles”. Apparently, in this parallel universe where the movie takes place it is impossible to catch fish without using the +5 Magical Goggles of Swimming. Of course he reminds you about this precious artifacts like 50 thousand times in the movie. As soon as Jack (Billy Zane’s character) borrows the goggles he gains supernatural diving and harpoon fishing skills as well. I don’t know – maybe it’s that Voodoo thing or something.
Either way, Manuel is stuck up and full of shit. He also wants to fuck Jennifer (Kelly Brook) and he doesn’t care that the only other surviver on the island happens to be her husband. Yet somehow, we are supposed to like this guy and root for him. No matter that he is stuck up, over confident asshole. No matter that he gleefully impregnated the Voodoo chick, then slapped her around and told her to fuck off. Sorry, but if you portray a dude this way, and give him no redeeming qualities whatsoever (other than the goggles of course) I will have very hard time liking him.
Billy Zane (a graduate of the Central School of Overacting) portrays an overly jealous, rich husband who has no respect for peons such as Manuel and becomes progressively crazier and deranged as the time passes. In other words – pretty much his character from Titanic, only with a beard. And while titanic had an actual director who would whip the actors into shape, Survival Island seems to conform to the George Lucas school of movie direction. This of course means that Billy gets to display his full range – which means going from zero to over the top in .5 seconds and then turning it up some more. If he was acting any harder, he would probably shit himself in the pants. Actually, I don’t rule out this possibility. It is very possible that he did shit himself in the process.
I’m not even going to mention that his jealousy really seems out of place considering the situation (shipwrecked on a deserted island). You’d think that he could maybe try to have civil if not friendly relationship with the guy who is the de-facto breadwinner for the group (you, know – he has the fucking +5 goggles). Even if he is eying your wife (the only woman on the fucking island btw) – there is just no reason to try every trick in the book to provoke and antagonize him. It’s not like he is going to jump and fuck your wife as soon as you are out of sight.
Oh… Wait… I forgot that Manuel is a fucking tool, and that this movie sucks. So yeah, this is exactly what happens. As soon as Jack wanders off, but before he is completely out of the frame the two love birds proceed to do “teh sex on the beach”. Actually, it kinda looks like it’s going to be a rape but then Jennifer actually decides it’s a good idea. You can’t really say this was a “heat of the moment” thing because that would indicate that there would be some sexual tension between the two. Unfortunately the tension is indicated but not show, and both Kelly and Juan suffer from fairly fatal necrosis of their acting muscle. Which in a weird way works out, because Billy suffers from the opposite syndrome – kinda like the restless leg thing, but for acting. For example when he finds out that his wife fucked the butler, he actually starts hopping in place, whimpering, does a few frustrated back flips, a classy pirouette and then crosses his legs and frowns like a kid who needs to pee real bad. Did anyone tell him this movie was a “talkie” and you don’t have to do so much physical work?
Btw, this infidelity happens around the day 5 or 6 on the island – give or take a few days. It’s kinda hard to tell the time since the movie doesn’t really concern itself with showing us passage of time. So yeah – Kelly Brook’s character seems to be a bit of an opportunist. Since her husband does not have magical goggles she decides to fuck the guy who does in less than a week. Which kinda says something about her character.
Btw, I mention the goggles a lot in this review because this is exactly what the movie does. You keep hearing about these fucking things as if they were the greatest thing under the sun. In a way this movie reminded me of playing the old point and click adventure games. In these things, you couldn’t perform certain actions if you didn’t have the correct item. You can’t cut anything without a knife, you can’t swim without swimming goggles, you can’t light a fire without matches or a lighter. Manuel even explains at one point that he can’t make a fire because there is no flint on the island, and his goggles don’t have magnification to focus the light. He also explains he grew up in a place like the island.
I’m sorry but if Tom Hanks’ workaholic FedEx manager could make a fire by rubbing two sticks together, then Manuel should be able to do it as well. I know that the stick method is a fucking pain in the ass, and it takes lots of practice – but that’s not a reason to give up on it. If I found myself on an island, I would be fucking rubbing sticks together as if my life depended on it – because it fucking would. But not our characters – they don’t seem to care about stuff like fire. They decide to live without it and eat raw fish until Jack shows up with his odd, waterproof Magical Cigarette Lighter of Infinite Lighter Fluid. Since I don’t smoke I never owned a Zippo myself, but I’ve seen how they are built and I’m quite sure that little wick can’t hold a year’s supply of lighter fluid – especially after spending a day or two underwater.
Funny thing about this movie is that Jack – the dude that goes crazy, and we are supposed to hate is the only character that seems to exhibit some vestigial remains of common sense. He is the only person who decides to scavenge useful items (like a pocket knife, a hat and some shoes) from the dead ship Capitan’s body. He actually pretty ingenious too. It turns out that he is much better at this island living shit than Manuel. He actually makes himself a pair of +5 Magical Swimming Goggles from some rubber, and a plastic bottle. He also finds a sunken life boat in the same fucking place Manuel was fishing in for many days, and repairs it himself.
I kinda fail to see why is he the bad guy in this movie. I mean, the guy gets stuck on an island with his servant who is a major tool, who won’t share his +3 Ultimate Pocket Knife of Cutting, +5 Magical Swimming Goggles, treats him as enemy to be stomped out and makes obvious advances toward his wife (who turns out to be a bit of a slut). If I was in his place, I would be pissed too. But hey, on survival island things don’t have to make sense. The guy is made into a monster because he is a rich white guy, who is not happy that his wife habitually goes skinny dipping with the manservant.
Did I mention absolutely hilarious random shit that makes no sense is in just about every scene of this movie? For example there is a scene where Jack observes his wife and Manuel from afar and he is wearing glasses made out of… leaves with eye holes cut into them. Why is these silly looking things? We don’t know. They never show up or are mentioned again. Apparently someone from the costume department decided it would be a good idea to have him wear these silly ass improvised glasses in this scene. There are also tons of production glitches where pieces of wardrobe magically appear or disappear between camera cuts.
I’m not going to lie to you. This movie sucks. But it’s good for a laugh, and it does contain boobs. So if you want to watch something so hilariously bad it’s ripe for parody, this might be something you might want to watch. Otherwise, stay clear.
Don’t ask me why I watched the whole damn thing. It was one of those things when you sit flipping channels and then you see something that looks good so you keep it on. Then it turns out to be so hilariously bad, you decide to watch the whole thing just to see what else they can fuck up.
[tags]survival island, billy zane, kelly brook, boobs, movies, humor, thriller, so bad it’s good, crappy movies[/tags]