Children could do worse than spend 88 minutes with MAGIC ISLAND. Their parents could do worse, too, like watching it themselves. The age of 13 years appears to be the absolute cutoff demographic for MAGIC ISLAND, and it's the age of the film's young hero.
Jack Carlisle (Zachary Ty Bryan), a modern kid, tries running away because his widowed careerist mom has little time for him. The savvy family maid gives him a copy of Magic Island, a supernatural storybook whose pages suck him into an 18th-century yarn about fearsome pirate Blackbeard (Andrew
Divoff). He is competing with rival buccaneers to locate a late sorceror's enchanted gold on Magic Island. With his modern clothes and CD player, Jack convinces gentleman freebooter Prince Morgan (Edward Kerr) that he's a miracle-worker too, and their team repeatedly dodges Blackbeard and his
bumbling flunkies, plus guardian creatures and traps left behind by the dead but watchful warlock. In the end, Blackbeard's greed literally turns him to solid gold, and Jack returns safely to the real world, no longer a resentful runaway, thanks to some brotherly advice from Prince Morgan.
Released directly to home video, MAGIC ISLAND doesn't even try to evoke a truly cinematic sense of breathless awe and wonder (best exemplified by Steven Spielberg productions) that, when misapplied, can seem insufferably pompous and bloated (best exemplified by Steven Spielberg productions).
Instead this has adult actors in period costumes and dubious British accents hamming eagerly amid postcard-lovely tropical scenery--filmed in Mexico--and harmless swordplay. There's nothing especially wrong with that, and endearing touches like a stop-motion-animated stone giant (a tribute to Ray
Harryhausen's towering Talos in JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS) compensate somewhat for the unrelentingly juvenile, quickie level of the material. Zachary Ty Bryan, of the hit TV sitcom "Home Improvement," makes a watchable hero, and director Sam Irvin keeps up the pace. Irvin (GUILTY AS CHARGED) also
cameos a la Marley's Ghost as Magic Island's malevolent magician.
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- Released: 1995
- Rating: PG
- Review: Children could do worse than spend 88 minutes with MAGIC ISLAND. Their parents could do worse, too, like watching it themselves. The age of 13 years appears to be the absolute cutoff demographic for MAGIC ISLAND, and it's the age of the film's young hero.… (more)