I’m sorry Lance, but Savage Islands isn’t great.
Now to everyone but Lance, that comment won’t make any sense. Allow me to explain. Lance has given me the unique opportunity to review a film that includes someone I know in the cast! I wondered if it would be hard to notice my colleague; turns out not at all. Younger Lance clearly ambles into frame, looks a bit confused and then looks straight down the camera. If I were purely reviewing Lance’s grasping of the situation, it would be a 10/10.
Unfortunately, I was asked to review the whole film and not just my colleague’s performance.
Outside of the UK and New Zealand, it’s known as Nate and Hayes, and this ‘swashbuckling adventure’ was clearly riding the coat tails of Indiana Jones. With Tommy Lee Jones looking far more ‘rugged’ than ‘craggy’, and his physicality landing him firmly in the ‘actors who can run’ column’, the argument for him leading this film is clear, though through either some off direction, or an inability to chuckle, he does this weird cackle when he should be nonchalantly laughing things off. I find myself intrigued by Jones’s possible career trajectory had this been a success, as it feels like it could have been a franchise.
According to IMDB, Savage Islands is director Ferdinand Fairfax’s only film. I can see what he was going for; a relatively light-hearted frolic through some beautiful scenery with some colourful characters. However, it never lands on a tone, forgetting the swashbuckling in favour of discussions on slavery and who should ‘have the girl’. Indiana Jones tackled similar themes with more tact.
The production itself tries to make the most of the setting and the locals, but mainly comes across as clumsy. From actors nearly missing their footing, to dialogue that very clearly is dubbed in later, it’s an untidy affair.
I’ve seen much worse films, and I don’t have the heart to really give Savage Islands a kicking. In a weird way it’s nice to have seen a film a lot of people won’t have, and to recognise a face is cool. Discussing scenes with a star of the film is interesting, but it’s not 90 minutes I’m going to get back.