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Movie Review:
Treasure Island

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.

More Info on Treasure Island

The Story:
The race to Captain Flint's treasure is on. After the dying pirate Billy Bones gives young Jim Hawkins a treasure map, Squire Trelawney of Jim's town believes they've got a clear path to the gold. Unfortunately, he lets everyone else know that, too, and soon he is charmed by the one-legged former pirate Long John Silver. Silver rounds up a motley crew for the journey, and mutiny, cross- and double-cross follow as the pirates and Jim's group battle for the ship and the treasure.

DVD Special Features:
Treasure Island was released in 1950, long before the era of DVD extras and making-of documentaries. In other words, there are none.

Trivia & Fun:
For a very fun and funny version of Treasure Island, complete with musical numbers, watch Muppet Treasure Island. In fact, you could stage a Pirate-athon by starting with this Treasure Island, then moving on to the Muppets and then Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.

Or, for bedtime adventure for older kids, read Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island to them one chapter at a time.

Silver's Revenge, by Robert Leeson is a sequel to Stevenson's Treasure Island.

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