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TV review: Syfy's uneven 'Treasure Island'

By Curt Wagner

RedEye

10:47 PM CDT, May 2, 2012

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When I was a kid I watched the Disney "Treasure Island" every time it was on TV—Ahoy, ye mateys! I'd scream all over the house—so I was more than excited to see Syfy's "darker," updated version of the Robert Louis Stevenson classic.

It's colorful, ambitious and looks fabulous, but I advise you to DVR the four-hour affair (6 p.m. May 5, Syfy; 2.5 stars) and watch it over a couple of nights or you may lose interest. You'll likely lose interest any way; there is a reason Syfy is airing the entire mini-series in one Saturday night.

You also might dislike the updated ending, which isn't all that dark. I can't really tell you about it lest I spoil, but I will say it feels—like the scarlet macaw playing Long John Silver's should-be-green parrot—wrong. It's too PC for a schooner full of scoundrels.

Eddie Izzard, however, is the right man to play Silver, the pirate with the tattooed face who must saw off his own cannon-shot leg just minutes into the film. Izzard channels his tricky grifter character from "The Riches" to convey Silver's slippery, mixed up morality. One minute he wants to find old Captain Flint's (Donald Sutherland) treasure at any cost, the next he's mentoring young adventurer Jim Hawkins (Toby Regbo, also good), who has set sail with Flint's X map and a group of seemingly trustworthy adults to find Flint's gold.

But "Treasure Island," which also stars Elijah Wood, Philip Glenister and Rupert Penry-Jones bringing the swashbuckling fun, is all over the map, literally, when it comes to pacing. When it really sails, it cuts through the waves swiftly. But it loses wind so many times the thrills come only sporadically.

And the scarlet macaw? He doesn't say anything, not even "Ahoy, ye mateys!"