There is the grain of a good idea in The Island, one where Peter Benchley inventively explains away the Bermuda Triangle disappearances as being caused by a lost culture descended from pirates. (The Bermuda Triangle was largely a tabloid myth with a not-untoward number of disappeared ships being distorted out of shape and out of location to make the dubious case for the existence of the zone). Benchley may well have taken inspiration from the Hammer film The Lost Continent (1968), which featured a not dissimilar plot where a ship crew find themselves trapped in an area of the Sargasso Sea that is inhabited by ancestors of the Conquistadors. Benchleys creativity is occasionally seen where some thought has gone into the pirates degenerated social rituals and particularly their collisions with the modern world. Most amusing of these is an encounter between a cutlass-wielding buccaneer and a kung fu artist.
Outside of these occasionally inventive ideas, The Island is not trying to be anything more an action thriller. Writing the screen adaptation himself, Peter Benchley seems to want to make it into a primal rights of manhood film along the lines of Deliverance (1972). It is certainly a surprisingly violent film where at least Benchley is showing pirate behaviour with a much greater regard to historical realism and the real brutality with which it was conducted than any sanitised traditional Hollywood swashbuckler. However, under the hands of Michael Ritchie, The Island thunders and bangs with blundering tedium and emerges as no more than an exercise in phoney machismo.
The British-born Michael Ritchie was a director who has made some occasionally decent films Downhill Racer (1969), The Candidate (1972), Prime Cut (1972) but whose ventures into fantasy the Eddie Murphy vehicle The Golden Child (1986), the fairy godmother comedy A Simple Wish (1997) and The Fantasticks (2000) were leaden flops.
Other films adapted from Peter Benchleys work include the deep-sea treasure hunting film The Deep (1977). Later Benchley works include the monster mini-series The Beast (1996) and Creature (1998) and the tv series Amazon (1999) in all three of the latter, Peter Benchleys name appears above the title.