6 January 2006 | TruPretender
Rushed film adaptation of an excruciating novel bears both Pros and Cons
I made darn sure to read the novel first, before pursuing the film itself. A real Benchley fan, I was curious about this film, as "Jaws" and "The Deep" had both left great impressions on film, as as the novels were packed with constant suspense. Well, I ended up reading the novel "The Island" only knowing one thing about it: Pirates. The book itself is a real piece of literature. This may be a single opinion by myself, but I was in utter shock, and at the edge of my nerves while digesting a novel filled with compelling action and suspense. It was my smart decision to first read the book, that ultimately set me with a certain understanding, which could have been a real misunderstanding otherwise.
The story has a man, Blair Maynard (Michael Caine), who, upon working for a magazine, eyes a news story about mysterious disappearances in a particular area off the coast of Florida. Against the wishes of his employer, Blair finds a way to put the story to good use, and decides to investigate the nearby locations surrounding the events. He does, however, have one problem: He has custody of his son for the time being. Swamped with this incredible story, Blair has no choice but to take his son along the expedition. Maynard also uses this trip as "bonding time" with his son. After numerous events (most of which are unseen in the film) lead them to a small resort island, a fishing trip on the side turns into a nightmare beyond words as Blair and his son are taken hostage, and held captive by a community of rough, gritty pirates. Blair is then used as a tool for petty survival tactics, while his son is brainwashed by the menacing beasts.
The book is, as I said, very hard to digest, as Benchley endures us with sordid, if not explicit details. A lot of people claim to despise the film, with various reasons counting. Some say it suffers from a lack in character development, or a rushed plot, or anything else that has been stated. Truth, a lot of complaints are made with good reason. The film is seemingly rushed, as most moments concerning the exposition of the story are missing in the film. Benchley wrote the script, so I find it hard to believe that a finalized print as it was, could be the result of his script. Either the film ran much longer, and was cut drastically by imposition of the studio, OR, Benchley kept straight to the book, without explaining certain elements that should have been looked over. In the full picture of things, this film is both loathed and adored. I personally had no problem with it. Seeing as I read the book prior to watching the film, I can attest to the fact that it does, in fact, go directly by the book, except for some segment that obviously didn't work.This film also marks the rumor that Caine walked on the set, and snubbed a check. Knowing the character development, and specific thoughts on marked incidents, I could read into the reality, and depth to which all the characters are representing. I guess what I am saying, is that if we all read the book, then watched the film, it would certainly be more acceptable and entertaining a film. For all I know, the film could actually be seen much friendlier if edited the right way. There could easily be a totally different film sitting in a vault somewhere such as Richard Donners version of "Superman II". I doubt we will ever know about it, or if that is even an accurate speculation. Even so, the film is interesting enough, if just a little rushed in the opening. It eventually slows it's pace, and makes for a good action film. My final stand is that it deserves at least a good watch. You might like it.