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Review: Cutthroat Island (4K)

The film that sunk a movie studio (Carolco), and pretty much the career of Geena Davis. Years before Pirates of the Carribean came along and relaunched a plethora of pirate movies, Renny Harlin’s Cutthroat Island arrived to a mixed reaction generally, but eventually was made to walk the plank. But now it’s back with a all new 4K transfer and hoping to find its way to a new audience.

Famous pirate’s daughter Morgan (Geena Davis) is on a quest for riches – she needs to get the remaining two parts of a map from her evil uncles, in order to find her dead father’s hidden treasure. Enlisting the help of a convicted thief (Matthew Modine), she straps on her cutlasses and takes to the high seas on a tempestuous journey – but villainous uncle Captain Dawg (Frank Langella) is in hot pursuit.

First of all, the picture quality is a noticeable improvement over previous releases, with vibrant colors and crisp details that breathe new life into the film. The 4K restoration has done justice to the swashbuckling action and the picturesque locations. The film’s cinematography shines through in this format, and the underwater sequences are particularly impressive.

CUTTHROAT ISLAND Steelbook on Screen One

However, there are a few downsides to this release that prevent it a higher rating. The audio quality, while decent, didn’t fully utilize the potential of a 4K disc. The surround sound could have been more immersive, especially during the intense battle scenes. It felt like a missed opportunity to enhance the overall viewing experience.

The film itself has not ages well, the sub par performances Frank Lagella aside who looks like he’s having a ball, certainly don’t help the weak script and somewhat lacklustre direction from the man who gave us Cliffhanger and Die Hard 2. Fans of the film will still enjoy it’s attempt at swashbuckling adventure, but new comers to it will probably return to Pirates of the Carribean as thier goto Pirate adventure. Johnny Depp nailed the pirate role, Geena Davis (Who was married to Harlin at the time) lacks the pinache and nuance of what was really needed.

Cutthroat Island isn’t all bad and there is some fun to be had with it, just don’t expect it to hoist sails and set off in search of fortune and glory. Disney’s sci-fi version of Treasure Planet has more depth to it than this, however nothing matches the huge explosions that Harlin presents us with.


Commentary from director Renny Harlin
Original trailer

On Blu-Ray/UHD
NEW The Adventure of a Lifetime: Making Cutthroat Island
NEW Charting the Course: Creating Cutthroat Island
NEW Across the Bow: Editing Cutthroat Island
NEW Summon Your Courage: Scoring Cutthroat Island
NEW Ecce Pirate – a short film by Matthew Modine
Commentary from director Renny Harlin
Making of
Behind the scenes
Original trailer

The 4K Blu-ray release of “Cutthroat Island” is a step in the right direction for fans of this cult classic. It offers improved visual quality, allowing us to appreciate the film’s aesthetics in a new light. However, the 4K release doesn’t escape the films shortcomings overall. If you’re a die-hard fan of the film or simply want to experience it in 4K, this release is worth considering, but don’t expect it to completely shiver your timbers!

Rating: 3 out of 5.
Cutthroat Island 4k Blu Ray on Screen One

CUTTHROAT ISLAND is available to buy on 4K UHD Steelbook, 4K UHD, Blu-ray, DVD and Digital from 18th September 2023

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