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MOVIE REVIEW : ‘Blue Lagoon’ a Contrived Remake

TIMES STAFF WRITER

“Return to the Blue Lagoon” (citywide) spends the first 43 of its 101 minutes pretending to be a sequel when it really wants to be a remake. A straightforward sequel would find Brooke Shields and Christopher Atkins’ shipwrecked youngsters now well into adulthood and, provided they hadn’t been rescued, coping with everyday existence in an isolated South Sea island paradise, which might just not be all that idyllic.

Instead, Leslie Stevens’ mightily contrived script tries to recapture the flowering of innocent sexuality in the 1980 “Blue Lagoon,” which just happened to rake in $100 million at the box office. “Return” opens with a ship bound from Tahiti to San Francisco encountering a dinghy drifting with the corpses of Shields and Atkins’ characters, plus their 2-year-old son, miraculously alive. No sooner has a young minister’s widow (Lisa Pelikan) with a year-old daughter taken charge of the baby boy than the ship’s captain dispatches her and the infants into a small boat to protect them from a cholera outbreak. Eventually, the widow and the children wind up at the very island where Shields and Atkins had been stranded years before.

Just as the kids hit their teens, old enough to take care of themselves but virgins still, the widow is all-too-predictably killed off with a convenient bout of pneumonia. The stage is set for the two teens, Lilli (Milla Jovovich) and Robert (Brian Krause), to thrash about in the throes of an only partially understood puberty, realize they have fallen in love, recite their marriage vows and make love discreetly enough to ensure a PG-13 rating.

Their Garden of Evil idyll is imperiled with the appearance of a ship upon the horizon, triggering some exceedingly heavy-handed disparagement of so-called “civilization.”

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“Return to the Blue Lagoon,” which was produced and directed by reliable TV veteran William A. Graham, who should know better, might make it with junior high audiences. The Fiji locales are gorgeous and the Basil Pouledouris score unashamedly lush.

Pelikan rates high marks for fleshing out a character that is essentially a plot device. Jovovich is a beauty recalling the very young Myrna Loy, Krause is boyishly handsome; both are capable and should survive this particular shipwreck.

‘Return to the Blue Lagoon’

Milla Jovovich: Lilli

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Brian Krause: Richard

Lisa Pelikan: Sarah

Nana Coburn: Sylvia

A Columbia Pictures presentation of a Price Entertainment/Randal Kleiser production. Producer-director William A. Graham. Executive producer Randal Kleiser. Screenplay Leslie Stevens; based on the novel “The Garden of God” by Henry De Vere Stacpoole. Cinematographer Robert Steadman. Editor Ronald J. Fagan. Costumes Aphrodite Kondos. Music Basil Pouledouris. Production design Jon Dowding. Art director Paul Ammitzboll. Sound Paul Brincat. Running time: 1 hour,41 minutes.

MPAA-rated PG-13 (some discreet lovemaking and nudity).


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