Survival Island
Showtime // Unrated // $24.99 // August 15, 2006
Review by Gerry Putzer | posted September 12, 2006
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THE MOVIE

A lot of far-flung companies had a hand in this little thriller, but the lion's share of applause goes to the one that supplied actress Kelly Brook's white bikini. The British-born actress, voted sexiest woman of 2005 by FHM magazine, has a gloriously retro, hourglass figure, and it's displayed extensively here. Including without the swimsuit.

The movie itself (also known as "Three") is generic stuff, having gone straight to cable's Showtime a few months before its DVD arrival. Jennifer (Brook) and Jack (Billy Zane) are a well-to-do American couple on vacation in the Caribbean. After the yacht they've rented catches fire at sea and founders, Jennifer manages to swim to a tiny deserted island, and shortly is joined by the boat's hunky deck hand, Manuel (Juan Pablo Di Pace). They set up shelter on the beach, and a couple of days later, Manuel discovers the barely alive Jack washed up on some rocks.

The nasty, condescending and insecure Jack immediately suspects something has gone on between his wife and Manuel in his absence. So in between the trio scrounging for food, trying to stay alive and worrying about ever being rescued, there's sexual tension leading to violence. There are no immunity challenges on this island, but some percentage of its occupants will be voted off big-time by the end.

Besides the "Survivor" similarity, the movie resembles Lina Wertmuller's "Swept Away," but without that 1974 classic's wit or grand sociological statements. There are also echoes of the 1989 stranded-at-sea thriller "Dead Calm," in which Zane played the literal drifter who terrorizes couple Sam Neill and Nicole Kidman. The shoe is on the other foot in "Survival Island," with Jack having good reason to be jealous and angry. But Zane may be the hardest actor to sympathize with; his psycho-bastard factor is always threatening to appear. (In "Titanic," it was more above the surface than that iceberg.) Kudos, however, to Zane for going without his toupee for this movie.

THE DVD

"Survival Island" was filmed in the Bahamas, in mostly glorious weather, and its beautifully scenic images have been well-transferred to disc. The widescreen picture (anamorphic 1.85) has been enhanced for 16:9 televisions. Language/audio options are English Dolby Digital 5.1, English 2.0 and Spanish 2.0. There are no subtitles available.

One wouldn't expect many extras here, and indeed there are few: just a gallery of stills from the movie as well as behind the scenes, and filmographies of the principal actors.

FINAL THOUGHT

Few people who have seen a sexual thriller of the past 20 years will find anything surprising in "Survivor Island." And the long-standing Billy Zane Problem is seriously in play here. But there is substantial eye candy courtesy of Kelly Brook (who has been seen on "Smallville") and Juan Pablo Di Pace, not to mention the scenic locale. Worth a rental, but just, um, barely.



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