Shipwrecked (1990)

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Today’s film is one that I’m a bit unsure about. As you know, I’m only reviewing the theatrical live-action Disney films wherein the Walt Disney Studios was involved in the production, even if merely. Directed by Nils Gaup, Shipwrecked is an English-language 1990 film made by a consortium of Scandinavian countries. Now was Disney involved in producing this or did they merely release it? I’m not 100% sure. For the sake of the blog, I’ll just “yes, it qualifies” and move on!

Without further ado, here’s my review of the film based on a children’s book by Oluf Falck-Ytter, Shipwrecked!

And remember, SPOILERS AHEAD!

The film begins in a darkened alley where we see a ne’er-do-well named Merrick, played by Gabriel Byrne, shoot dead a member of the British Navy.

“If this were in 3D, the audience would have probably been shot!”

The film then cuts to a young Norwegian boy named Haakon Haakonson, played by Stian Smestad, being bullied by some boys. His father has recently returned from a sea voyage, but with an injured leg. News gets worse though when the family home is under threat of being taken unless a loan can be repaid. It’s now up to Haakon to earn money for the family by going on a sea voyage. Thankfully, he doesn’t go alone, but is accompanied by an older brother-like fellow named Jens, played by Trond Peter Stamsø Munch.

At first, the ship’s crew pulls pranks on Haakon, but as time passes, they learn to love and respect him and he them. The captain of the ship has hired a British Navy officer named Lieutenant Howell to help them along their journey. We, the audience, see that this is no other than Merrick who has taken the identity of the man he killed at the beginning of the film.

Such a trustworthy mug!

Nobody suspects anything fishy at first, but Haakon stumbles upon crates of guns hidden below decks in crates with the word “Glass” marked on them. Merrick catches Haakon and “persuades” him not to tell as shipmates keep each other’s secrets. Haakon is conflicted about this and even goes to the captain about what he should do about secrets he knows. The captain tells him to sleep on it and if in the morning, Haakon still feels he needs to disclose the secret, then he may tell him.

And as you can imagine, the captain dies the next morning before Haakon has a chance to divulge what he knows!

I accuse Merrick of committing the crime in the captain’s quarters with the arsenic…did I win Clue?

After the crew pays their respects to the dead captain, Merrick takes over as captain of the ship. Haakon tries telling Jens about the guns, but Jens feels there are a number of logical explanations as to why there are guns below deck.

“They could be participation prizes that Captain Merrick plans to give the entire crew! You have to use your head sometimes, Haakon!”

Haakon later discovers a young girl stowaway named Mary, played by Louisa Milwood-Haigh, below deck who has run away to escape being put in an orphanage. The two quickly become friends as well as develop crushes on each other.

“It’s a 1980 Gene Kelly film that we don’t talk about!”

It’s not long however before the crew starts to really dislike Merrick as he treats them harshly and cancels previously planned shore leave. The last straw though is when he discovers Mary and is about to beat Haakon as punishment after he admits to having known about her. Fortunately, heavy waves crash upon the ship scattering everybody everywhere including Haakon who is shipwrecked on a deserted island.

Well, MOSTLY deserted! What is with these “shipwrecked” films all having primates on deserted islands? And gosh, it took a long time for the title of this film to come true!

He also discovers buried treasure left there by Merrick and he realizes that Merrick is really a pirate. There’s not much he can do though by himself and misses his family and friends terribly. Soon after he sees some smoke coming from a nearby island and decides to investigate. He takes a small boat over and finds Mary and Jens there safe and sound!

The natives on that island rescued them and they have been traveling from island to island to find Haakon. Haakon takes them both back to “his” island which has now been visited by Merrick and his crew. Haakon, Jens, and Mary try to escape from Merrick and his gang and manage to do so mostly due to traps that Haakon has laid around the island.

“Help, I’ve upped and I can’t fall down!”

The trio takes control of Merrick’s ship and sails back to Norway. Haakon uses the money he’s gotten to pay back the debt reclaiming his family’s home. And Mary joins Haakon’s family.

And that was Shipwrecked! Have you ever wanted to watched a boring, unfocused, mash-up of Treasure Island and Lt. Robin Crusoe, U.S.N? If so, this is just the film for you! The film has potential to be a coming-of-age sea journey-esque story, but suffers from not much happening in the beginning to our main character finally being shipwrecked almost 50 minutes into the film!

Gabriel Byrne’s performance is fun to watch as are his facial expressions!

The guy is just enjoying himself!

And the actor who played the Captain in his brief role isn’t that bad, but other than that there’s not much else to say about this film. It’s not frustrating or unwatchable by any means; it’s just…uninteresting.

So, my final score for this film is 18/35 = 51.43% (F) !

The next review will be posted on July 16, 2019.

6 thoughts on “Shipwrecked (1990)

    1. My daugter and I both enjoyed it quite a lot – we also have a predisposition toward this type of action/adventure film. There was nothing particularly special about it, but it was still fun and worth watching. I’d watch it again.

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