Mate Fletcher Christian leads a mutiny against his friend Lt. Bligh on an 18th-century voyage to Tahiti.
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Director Roger Donaldson (Thirteen Days) has breathed vibrant new life into the classic story of the mutiny on the Bounty. With a dream cast--Mel Gibson, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Sir Laurence Olivier, Liam Neeson, and Daniel Day-Lewis--and a script by Robert Bolt (Doctor Zhivago, Lawrence of Arabia), The Bounty takes a revisionist tack through the well-charted waters of an oft-told tale. Hopkins's Captain Bligh is no raving sadist in the Charles Laughton mode. (Laughton played Bligh in the first Mutiny on the Bounty, 1935.) Instead, Sir Anthony plays Bligh as a hard-nosed imperialist explorer simply trying to get the job done in the time-honored manner: on the backs of the poor gobs under his command. Still, when Bligh's suppressed powder keg of rage finally blows, Hopkins is formidable indeed. Mel Gibson gives one of the most soulful performances of his career as mutiny leader Fletcher Christian. He's also at the height of his blue-eyed, buff good looks, and his romance with Tahitian maiden Mauatua (lovely Tevaite Vernette) is decidedly erotic. Liam Neeson is a veritable force of nature as the scrappy seaman Charles Churchill, and Daniel Day-Lewis is sublimely hateful as Master John Fryer, a pompous toady. With special effects to rival those of The Perfect Storm, the alluring eye candy of a tall-masted schooner under full sail, lush tropical greenery, and bevies of bodacious South Sea Islands babes, plus a gripping story line, The Bounty deserves a rescue from undeserved obscurity. --Laura Mirsky
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