Sunday, April 26, 2015

LORD OF THE FLIES (1990)

LORD OF THE FLIES (1990) 

Label: Olive Films
Release Date: April 28th 2015 
Region Code: A
Rating: R
Duration: 90 Minutes
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 2.0 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.85:1)
Director: Harry Hook
Cast: Balthazar Getty, Chris Furrh, Danuel Pipoly


Synopsis: Lord of the Flies stars Balthazar Getty (Lost Highway) in an adventure tale based on the classic novel by William Golding. When an aircraft carrying a group of military school cadets is forced to crash land in an uninhabited Pacific jungle, it is survival of the fittest, man against nature, and boy against boy as sides are drawn when the hunters become the hunted.

I was still a sophomore in high school when Harry Hook's Lord of the Flies adaptation came to the cinema. At the time I just happened to be reading William Golding's source material novel for a class assignment and having just finished the fantastic novel I was pretty stoked to see a big screen adaptation. At the time I was unaware of the 1963 film and as such my viewing was not skewed by a comparison of the two films, just on the novel, and I loved it.


It was a harrowing viewing marked by the surprising savagery of children left to their own devices far from the eyes of parents and teachers. Now, looking back through the years in the aftermath of numerous school shootings in a post Battle Royale era the savagery of the kids is far less surprising, it's almost expected. 


While the original was shot in black and white this more contemporary version was shot in the tropics and is a feast for the eyes loaded with picturesque beaches, luscious green jungle and a stunning array of blue vistas and iridescent sunsets, on just a purely visual level this is quite an attractive film from the first frame on through to the last, the gorgeous natural beauty is a nice counterpoint to the darker savagery.

Watching it now I can see that the unfolding drama suffers the same shortcoming as the '63 original, the young cast is a bit spotty in places but not awful, they're just young, inexperienced cast. Getty and Furrh are solid in their respective roles, and Pipoly as Piggy is good, but this time around I found him rather annoying, which is by design. he comes off as weak and whiny despite being well intentioned, it's easy to see why he grated on the nerves of the other boys. His demise is brutal, even more so than in the original film, a death which traumatized me as a youth, still packing quite a wallop even now.


Piggy of course is not the only victim of the adolescent savagery which erupts on the island, both the pilot of the downed aircraft and another cadet fall victim to their sharp-tipped wooden spears, the cadet is speared repeatedly by his fellow cadets in the dark of night, having mistaken him for a monster they believe to inhabit the island. 



The story is pretty solid, children turned into savages without the constraint of society and the rule of adults. This adaptation follows the same template as the original film with only some minor updating beginning with the kids being American military cadets as opposed to British school children. Their arrival on the island is a bit more fleshed-out, the original movie started with Ralph and Piggy already in the island following a series of still frames, this version begins with a slightly artful underwater sequence before the kids arrive on the island together. Not all the updates are for the better though, around the campfire a kids name drops the '80s sci-fi sitcom Alf of all things, which sort of horribly dates it.

The Blu-ray from Olive Films looks pretty great, presenting the film with a 1080p HD transfer in the original widescreen aspect ratio sporting a fine layer of fine film grain. Colors are vibrant and the black levels are decent with some nice shadow detail with a modest amount of depth and some fine detail. The DTS-HD MA 2.0 English audio is solid, blending the tropical sounds of the island, dialogue and composer Philippe Sarde's score seamlessly and well-balanced, a very nice A/V presentation all around. Unfortunately there are no bonus features on the disc whatsoever but the disc's audio-visual merits are quite nice


While the '90 version lacks some of the depth of the original it does manage to stay close to the original story and in my opinion slightly improves upon it in certain respects, with a gorgeous array of tropic beauty and more visceral savagery on the part of the unruly kids, which make for quite a thrilling watch.


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