Review – Treachery and a Dead Man’s Promise

Rating: ★★★☆☆

In the history of pirates on the silver screen, only a handful of films have managed to capture piracy in such a manner as to transcend fact, transcend history, and cut straight to the heart of the matter. I speak of course of rum-sodden stupor. In this way, Treachery and a Dead Man’s Promise surpasses all other pirate movies as it rolls beneath the tavern bench, belching gunpowder and occasionally waking up just long enough to start a bar fight before passing out in the alley – PIRATE STYLE.

Let’s be clear, this is a fan film. 20 odd minutes of dubious acting filmed on location at renfaire, the beach, and the woods with questionable dialogue featuring pirate accents of varying skill and consistency. And ninjas, lots and lots of time-traveling ninjas. Oh, and a sea hag who I think gave the ninja sea herpes or something like that. SPOILER ALERT – that last sentence contained a spoiler. Continue reading

Review: Pirates of the Caribbean – On Stranger Tides

Rating: ★★☆☆☆
In 2003, Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl came to theaters. It was, far, far better than we had any right to expect, and pirate fever soon struck the world. Any movie based on an amusement park ride (no matter how well loved) is almost certain to be one-dimensional, half-assed, and forgettable, and yet we got a piece of genius that redefined a generation or more’s view of pirates. That’s the good news. The bad news is that with 2011’s On Stranger Tides, we finally got the pirate movie we probably should have gotten in the first place: one-dimensional, half-assed, and forgettable.

Now, that last statement is bound to ruffle some, and I’m not saying On Stranger Tides was a bad movie exactly. It was just dull. Predictable, dull, and more of a cartoon than a live action adventure. It was only truely bad when considering the talent onhand, and comparing it to what this movie *could* have been. Continue reading

Review: Pirates of the Great Salt Lake

Rating: ★★★★☆
greatsaltlakePirates of the Great Salt Lake has been a long, long time coming. The film was actually completed some years ago, but due to the realities of distribution it’s been tied up until just these past few months. This has resulted in no shortage of anticipation from within the pirate community – a group that’s been eagerly awaiting its chance to finally see a film that is for, and more or less about them (or at least, folks sort of like them.)

Being an independent film, Salt Lake understandably lacks the Hollywood polish. For the most part this isn’t a problem as it remains plenty slick on its own merits. It does have two moments of weakness, though – both of which regrettably occur within the first few minutes, and risk audiences prematurely dismissing the movie before it truly begins. The first incident is during a flashback from generations past in which a demonic pirate is seen – it’s relatively silly and reminiscent of a B slasher film. Not that B slasher films are all bad, but this movie is smarter than that. The second incident is when the protagonists, Kirk and Flint, find their first victims – a catamaran with two ladies and some muscle-bound dude. In a film full of great acting, these three extras are amongst the worst imaginable, and look entirely lost for what to do, save for when they look like they’re trying not to laugh. It’s sad because these two events lower the bar of the film, and some viewers may have difficulty recovering in time to get full enjoyment from all that follows. Continue reading

Review: Nate and Hayes

Rating: ★★★☆☆
nateandhayesNate and Hayes is one of those oft forgotten, semi-classics that’s very existence will surely surprise younger pirate fans – who knew that Tommy Lee Jones starred in a pirate film? (Wait until you learn that so did James Earl Jones, but that’s a future review.) Filmed in 1983, Nate and Hayes is a definite product of its time as it features a decent film effort combined with some wildly dated concepts. But if watched with a forgiving mind, it’s still an enjoyable film and well worth watching.

The story begins at the end, or near enough. We’re introduced to pirate Bully Hayes (Jones), as he attempts to complete an arms smuggling job with some incredibly bizarre island natives (namely white folk in afros wearing matching red and black outfits.) The deal sours, and we witness the deaths of most of the characters we’ve yet to be introduced to, capped off by the capture of Bully Hayes to be hanged for crimes against Spain. It’s in this manner that we’re soon to encounter the movie’s primary storyline – told through a series of flashbacks as Hayes recounts his adventures to a news reporter. Continue reading

Review: The Buccaneers

Rating: ★★½☆☆
Although it defies all common logic, back in his youth – long before he was the awesomely off-putting Quint in Jaws, and before he was the awkwardly off-putting Ned Lynch in Swashbuckler – Robert Shaw was actually able to cut a somewhat dashing figure – and no where was this more apparent than in his two year portrayal of Captain Dan Tempest in the TV series The Buccaneers, the entirety of which – 39 episodes – is now available as a single DVD set.

Originally airing in 1956, The Buccaneers begins in 1718 New Providence as Governor Woodes Rogers arrives to convert this pirate cesspool into a respectable British colony. To do so he must establish himself as “top dog” amongst a less than receptive populace – wooing the less hardened with pardons, and defeating the worst of the lot – Blackbeard included – in direct combat. Continue reading

Review: Pirate Scurvy Dog

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
It’s rare to come across a product with no – and I mean do mean zero – value, but Pirate Scurvy Dog’s Pieces of Eight is one such beast. No production value, no plot, no humor, and frankly, no effort. Hell, they could have at least thrown in a little nudity to reward your taking the trouble to watch the thing, but not even that.

Made up of brief segments that seem to be leading to a joke that never quite arrives, it’s much like watching the antics of a pirate-themed late night horror movie host – the kind of host you only tolerate so that you can get back to the movie. But in this case, there is no movie – just more pointless antics. And then, when you’re at the end of your strength and think the segment will go on and on forever, the punchline finally arrives. And guess what? It’s not at all funny. But then another story starts and the cycle continues. Continue reading

Review: Pirates 2 – Stagnetti’s Revenge (adults only)

Rating: ★★½☆☆

Following its release in 2006, Pirates: A Joone Film made movie history. Not only was it the highest budgeted adult film ever, but it was also the first to cross over into mainstream cinema. By cutting the bulk of the sex scenes to establish an R rating, the remaining film was still highly enjoyable – a feature in stark contrast to the adult film stereotype, and certainly a commendable achievement.

Like its presumed inspiration, Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, Pirates: A Joone Film was a daunting undertaking that was successfully achieved thanks to the “outside of the box” thinking of the production crew, writers, and direction. And also like the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, Pirates: A Joone Film’s sequel, Pirates 2: Stagnetti’s Revenge managed to fall into a common trap – namely production value over plot. Continue reading

Review: Crusoe Premiere

Rating: ★★☆☆☆
So Crusoe premiered last week on NBC. I’d posted a review as written by some cynical yahoo – that was my assumption at least, having not seen the show yet myself. Now I have – and yeah, he was a bit of a yahoo. Two men being friends and living on an island together (hardly by choice, mind you) does not a gay duo make. And just because a pirate is a girl pirate does not make her a Keira Knightly wannabe.

BUT, that doesn’t mean this show was great, exactly. It would have been great – had it been broadcast in 1985. Crusoe’s gadgetry seems straight out of MacGuyver or the A-Team, especially when Crusoe and Friday start prepping for an upcoming invasion – I could hear the A-Team soundtrack in my head the whole time. Continue reading

Review: The Island

Rating: ★★★★☆
It’s exceedingly hard to explain the plot of 1980’s The Island without it sounding silly. In a few words, it’s the modern-day story of a reporter and his son being kidnapped and held captive by a crew of inbred pirates who’ve managed to stay under the radar of modern society for 300 years. See? Silly. And yet, not even remotely. Based on a book by the same bloke that wrote Jaws, this is a well crafted story and a decent pirate flick to boot.

The basic deal is this – the famous buccaneer l’Ollonais apparently didn’t die as most historical accounts state (being torn apart alive and eaten by native cannibals), but rather he founded his own society of pirates. His children, grand-children, and great grand-children have continued to raid passing ships by means of acquiring the necessities of life. They honor their past, follow a code, and basically live the “good life”, with the tiny exception that their limited gene pool has begun to bottom out. But never fear – these crafty pirates have learned the key to their salvation. Rather than simply stealing booty, it’s time to start stealing children as well. See? Problem solved. Continue reading