“It’s really not that dangerous.”
In the future, water is the most prized commodity throughout the entire galaxy. Pirate leader Jason (Robert Urich) and his team of cutthroats and broken down robots pillage starships hoping to steal shipments of ice, their latest target run by the Supreme Commander’s (John Carradine) most trusted henchman, the egotistical and duplicitous Zorn (Jeremy West). Captured alongside his wisecracking second-in-command Roscoe (Michael D. Roberts), Jason and company receive unexpected aid from the Princess Karina (Mary Crosby), the beautiful, headstrong woman needing the pirate’s help to find her missing scientist father who went looking for a fabled “seventh planet” where cool, clear drinking water is in abundance.
My eight-year-old self would have loved The Ice Pirates, and how I never watched it until now I can’t honestly explain as this sci-fi comedy certainly falls right in the center of my genre-loving wheelhouse. Even stranger, I was positive I had seen the film, images from it so clear in my memory I was all but certain I’d watched this 1984 cult favorite at least once, probably more than that.
Turns out, I was just really familiar with the trailer, almost all the scenes I’d remember featured there. Watching the movie for the first time then, I can’t exactly say I was particularly impressed. Same time, I also can’t claim this as any sort of extensive disdain for the parody, and I totally get why so many think of it as some underappreciated, ahead of its time (Mel Brooks’ somewhat similar Spaceballs would be released until 1987, after all) comedy classic.
For my part, I find director and co-writer Stewart Raffill’s (The Philadelphia Experiment) opus more worth lauding for its creative production design and for its impressive cast (Ron Perlman, Anjelica Huston, John Matuszak and Bruce Vilanch – of all people – are here alongside Urich, Crosby, Roberts and Carradine) than I do anything else. Few of the gags did a heck of a lot for me (although a reference to why Roscoe built and designed a black robot is pretty awesome), while the chemistry between hero and heroine isn’t nearly as strong as I felt it should have been.
As for the time warp finale I’d heard so much about, it’s suitably insane, yes, but it’s also the point where Raffill seems to be most content to just make things up as they go along, It’s energetic, to be sure, but it’s also so nonsensical investing in anything happening is close to impossible. Still, there are a couple of nice little laughs here and there, Urich’s reaction to a pregnant revelation kind of priceless.
Can’t say watching The Ice Pirates put me back in touch with that inner eight-year-old that made it a point to watch films like Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone, Yor, the Hunter from the Future or Megaforce, but I do recognize that version of me probably would have been more amenable to the film than the modern day version of me undeniably is. Still, I do get why this comedy has its fans. More, I think you could make a solid case it’s actually a little stronger a parody than the wildly still-popular Spaceballs is. Is that enough for me to tell anyone to give it a look? Probably not, but it is a solid reason for me not to urge anyone to not watch it, either; make of that what you will.
The Ice Pirates is presented on a 50GB Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video with a 1.85:1 1080p transfer.
This Blu-ray features an English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 audio and includes optional English SDH subtitles.
Extras here include:
Original Theatrical Trailer (2:20)
This is a pretty terrific trailer, much better than the actual movie itself is. A person could save a heck of a lot of time and just watch it.
Of all the films Warner Archive could bring to Blu-ray, they chose to give The Ice Pirates a loving hi-def upgrade. Thankfully, they’ve done their typically wonderful job, picture and audio absolutely top-notch, so fans of this unabashedly silly, visually rambunctious sci-fi comedy will undoubtedly be pleased as far as that goes. Everyone else? Well, everyone else will likely wonder why all the fuss and bother – that’s if they even care to watch the movie in the first place.