Pirate news, reviews, and commentary...

Review: Roman Polanski’s Pirates

Rating: ★★★★★
I think this is the single most under-rated pirate movie of all time. I’ve read review after review that criticizes it, claiming it’s too slow, too silly, too lacking in plot, etc, etc. Heck, one reviewer even rates it the same as that true disaster, Cutthroat Island.

So let me set the record straight – this is an absolutely gorgeous, terribly fantastic movie. The costumes are phenominal, as are the sets, the acting, and the writing. The story itself revolves around Captain Redd, a down-on-his-luck pirate adrift on a raft with his first mate, the Frog. Vulgar, crude, greedy, and scheming, Captain Redd is a walking cliché who shows us why the cliché became a cliché in the first place, capable of shouting such catchphrases as “me hearties” and “by thunder” with ease and gusto. Rescued by the Spanish Galleon, Neptune, Redd and Frog soon grow weary of the ill-treatment they’re forced to endure at the hands of the ship’s First Officer, Don Alfonso. A pompous peacock of a man, Don Alfonso soon suffers a humiliating defeat when Captain Redd convinces the crew to mutiny and turn to a life of piracy. Control of the ship then changes hands a few more times throughout the Caribbean as Captain Redd and Don Alfonso repeatedly butt heads and take it in turns to reseize the Neptune and, more importanly, its precious cargo of a golden Aztec throne. (more…)

Review: Once Upon a Wave

Rating: ★★★★☆
Pirate Jenny
www.kevinhendrickson.com/kh/pirate-jenny/pirate-jenny.html

Buy the CD
Genre: Contemporary pirate rock and alternative.
Rating: PG
Target Audience: Ages 15 and up

I heard Never Sea Land first. It’s how I was introduced to Pirate Jenny, and how I fell in love with them. So by default, Never Sea Land is my favorite. Were it not for that edge, I might argue that Once Upon a Wave is the slightly better album. Or I might not – I’m really indecisive on this one. In Never Sea Land I was briefly introduced to the character Captain Slaymore. In Once Upon a Wave he returns along with Scabby the seaman. This was when it becomes apparent there is actually a story at works. Scamalot, pirate paradise, is in a state of transition. Its walls are in peril and a new king must rise. Of course, it’s not as straightforward as that, but its close enough. (more…)

Review: Pirates of Silicon Valley

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
“Pirates of Silicon Valley”? Yeah, right. This is the most fraudelent movie title since “The Neverending Story.” Not one freakin’ pirate, just a bunch of computer geeks going to meetings. No ships, no wenches, not even a single “Yarrr” throughout this entire 95 minute disaster. This movie claims to be based on a true story, but I looked up Bill Gates and Steve Jobs in every pirate encyclopedia I have, and neither is mentioned even once – so they weren’t even real people, apparently.

I mean, if they had a movie about Blackbeard going to business meetings, then I could at least give them partial credit for putting a real pirate in the film – even if he wasn’t doing piratey things. But this is a movie, supposedly about pirates, that depicts non-pirates doing nothing remotely piratey. What a crock.

Review: Never Sea Land

Rating: ★★★★☆
Pirate Jenny: Never Sea Land
http://www.kevinhendrickson.com/kh/pirate-jenny/pirate-jenny.html

Buy the CD
Genre: Contemporary pirate rock and alternative.
Rating: PG-13
Target Audience: Ages 15 and up

What can I say about this album? It’s unfair of me to review it, I’m too biased.

I don’t know about you, but I grew up with sea shanties. Schooner Fare and its ilk were what I listened to as a teenager (which is probably why I didn’t get invited to the cool parties.) But in time I needed something different. Enter Pirate Jenny. (more…)

Review: National Lampoon’s Last Resort

Rating: ½☆☆☆☆
From the creators of Family Vacation comes this movie with a rather unique premise: Two teenage slackers, having gotten fired after blowing up the burger joint they worked at, land a couple of scuba instructor jobs at a swanky resort by pretending to be former Navy seals. The resort is owned by their uncle, a has-been Hollywood star who’s constantly trying to relive his glory days as a pirate captain on the silver screen as he wanders his island in full pirate garb whilst seeking buried treasure. Of course, the real action starts when these…

Oh jeez – I just realized you might be starting to think this sounds like a decent movie. My bad. Did I mention that they didn’t have enough actors, so many of the extras are played by cardboard cutouts? Or how about the fact that the underwater scenes are shot in a room painted blue with someone just offscreen blowing bubbles? And don’t overlook the fact that this little gem stars Corey Haim and Corey Feldman. This is a bizarre flick, and while it seems to try to poke fun at its own absurdity, it doesn’t do so nearly enough to be forgiven. But it does make lots of pirate references, so watch it if you must – I won’t hold it against you. Just don’t say you weren’t warned.

Review: Tropico 2 – Pirates Cove

Rating: ★★★★☆
Fun. Just an absolute blast. You’re likely already familiar with this sort of game – civic planning and the like. You run a town, you decide how the money gets spent and where the buildings get built. But this time you do it as a pirate king. You provide your pirates with gambling dens, taverns, female companionship, and the like. You also build ships and send your captains out to bring back booty. That’s the game in a nutshell, but there’s real charm here as well. When you read the thoughts of your subjects (you’re a psychic pirate king) they’re often thinking amusingly snide things. Also, sometimes your captives will get uppity, and you’ll have to loosen the reigns on your pirates to put them back in their place.

The graphics are excellent, and everything is designed to look extra piratey. But the real star of this game is the music, which is available on it’s own as a Soundtrack CD. Fun tropical music that makes excellent background music while remaining catchy enough to keep your attention. I found the CD is a great compliment to other pirate games that don’t have good background music of their own.

Review: Pirates of the Caribbean PC Game

Rating: ★★★★☆
pirates.bethsoft.com/firstsite/main.html

I admit being perturbed at the name change. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVED the movie Pirates of the Caribbean. But I also loved that Seadogs was made by a small company I’d never heard of. I loved that they were making a sequel. But I didn’t love that Disney came along and bought that sequel and slapped their logo on it. (more…)

Review: Battle Songs of the Toucan Pirates

Rating: ★★☆☆☆
The Toucan Pirates
www.toucans.net

Buy the CD
Genre: Traditional inspired, mostly insrumental
Rating: G
Target Audience: All Ages

A lively CD full of peppy music for dancing a jig. Steel drums, pennywhistles, and banjos all make for old-fashioned Irish music with a hint of the tropics. But it doesn’t really conjure up images of sea battles and storms – this is more like the music you’d hear in the pub after pulling into port. Apparently the Toucan Pirates realized it needed a little something more, which would be why the music is accompanied by cannon blasts, creaking ships, and the occasional yells of “hoist the mainsails” and such. For me these additions were a little much, but easily forgiven. (more…)

Review: The Pirate Prince

Rating: ★★★½☆
The Pirate Prince: Discovering the Priceless Treasures of the Sunken Ship WHYDAH
by Barry Clifford
www.whydah.com

In his book “The Pirate Prince”, which I believe is the first of his several accounts regarding the pirate ship Whydah, Barry Clifford seems to have two primary goals – the first is to completely disillusion the reader as to any pretense of glamour associated with undersea treasure hunting. The second goal, ironically, is to completely enchant the reader with the glamour of undersea treasure hunting. Surprisingly, he manages to do both rather well.

To the first goal Clifford goes into great detail explaining the difficulties of locating a wreck, of separating fact from legend, of recreating centuries old scenarios using half-facts and hunches. But these are the difficulties we imagine when we think of treasure hunters. What we don’t generally consider is what happens once the wreck is discovered.

In a word – bureaucracy. (more…)

Review: Seadogs

Rating: ★★★★☆
www.bethsoft.com

I bought this game on a whim – didn’t know a thing about it but the box looked good. One of the best spontaneous purchases I ever made. Beautiful graphics, relatively easy ship controls, and absolutely wonderful music (this holds espically true when you visit a pirate village, where the background music is ripe with “yo hos” – very fun.) In the game you play Nicholas Sharp, a pirate captain that you can take ashore to buy goods and chat with the locals, or take aboard your ship to pillage and plunder. Best of all, whenever you give a command you hear a piratey voice say things like “Full sails, aye captain” or “Cannons loaded, captain.”

A fine, fine game, but it does have about three real sticking points. First, it’s buggy as hell. But this is easily fixed with a patch available at the official website. The second point is that there seem to be multiple missions and plotlines interwoven, and it’s tricky to tell what you’re supposed to do when in order to keep the story moving along. And the third is that the game starts you off in a weak little boat making it almost impossible to survive. But when you do finally climb up the ladder to bigger and better ships, it almost becomes too easy.

A beautiful but flawed game.