Movie Review: Treasure Island

by Catherine McCafferty
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Treasure Island

  • MPAA Rating: G
  • Running Time: 96 minutes

Watch it for the original pirates of the Caribbean.

If you want to see where that the wink and swagger of Captain Jack Sparrow st-arrr-ted, tune in to Walt Disney's very first live action movie. Long John Silver's accent, charm, and ever-shifting pirate's honor set the mold for Johnny Depp's Jack Sparrow as well as Tim Curry's Long John in Muppet Treasure Island. Better yet, all the classic elements of pirate stories start with this film based on Robert Louis Stevenson's classic book. There's the dreaded Black Spot, the rum-soaked taverns (and pirates), the Jolly Roger, and the mysterious island that holds buried pieces of eight.

The bonus for young viewers is that a boy their age, Jim Hawkins, sets sail on this adventure, risking his life to save his ship and mates. At one point, Long John tells his men that Jim fights better than any two of them. And while Long John does take advantage of Jim's early trusting ways, he also develops a soft spot for Jim that makes him more of a rascally scoundrel (like Jack Sparrow) than a bloodthirsty pirate (like some of the crew Silver leads).

This is serious-pirate business, with a trail of bodies in its wake -- but it's also timeless, classic adventure.

Kids Will Like:
With Jim as the young hero -- he even brings the ship to shore by himself! -- kids can imagine themselves at the helm, in the company of brave and dangerous men.

Parents Will Like:
It's fun to see younger, long-haired versions of Charlie Sheen (Aramis) and Kiefer Sutherland (Athos). Tim Curry, as always, plays the perfect villain as Richelieu.

There are also swordfights, treasure, a fort—all you need to imagine your own further adventures once the movie is done.

Heads Up:
Child labor and safety weren't large concerns in Jim Hawkins' day (1765 England), so the lad is seen serving rum, carrying a gun, and shooting a pirate point-blank.

Among the adults, there's a fair amount of rum-drinking and drunkenness.

There's a generally old-fashioned look and sound to the film, but Silver's charm and Jim Hawkins' adventures will keep young viewers watching. Eight years old and up would probably get the most out of it. Younger viewers might not have the patience and might be upset by some of the pirate deaths.

Own It?
Yes, as the granddaddy of all the current pirate movies kids love.

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