The Ice Pirates (Warner Archives)

Director: Stewart Rafill

Cast: Robert Urich, Mary Crosby
 

Country of Origin - U.S.

Discs - 1

Distributor - Warner Archives

Reviewer - Scott MacDonald

Date - 02/01/16

The Film (1.5/5)

   The 80's were ground zero for big budget fantasy and science fiction cinema. 3 films in particular seemed to lead the charge for fantastic cinema in that decade. Star Wars, of course was in the lead by a very large margin, the low budget Ozploitation film Mad Max, and it's later sequel the Road Warrior, and later on the Arnold Scwarzenegger vehicle Conan the Barbarian would lead a charge for filmmakers both big and small to follow throughout the decade. In 2016 almost everything remotely successful gets satirized on some level, for every Scream like success, we now have a Scary Movie.  However, back then the glut of Meet the Spartans-esque cinema had yet to reach it's peak.

   With the tidal wave of sci-fi and fantasy cinema reaching theaters in the 80's there was of course someone out there going to poke fun at it.  Of course, when most people think of sci-fi satire in the 80's the first thing that comes to mind is the Mel Brooks feature Spaceballs. However, this months Warner Archives Collection release ICE PIRATES actually beat Brooks to the sci-fi satire punch by a good 3 years.

   Ice Pirates takes place in a galaxy where water is a much needed commodity.  The remaining water in the galaxy is frozen in blocks of ice and kept under the control of the Templars. There are also the Ice Pirates who invade Templar ships to steal ice. During one of these attempts they also find a princess named Katrina, whose Father it is revealed is attempting to find the last pure water source in the galaxy, a mysterious seventh planet (guess where?).  Of course, to preserve the status quo the Templars are also searching for the planet. In order to find the planet the Pirates have to first find Katrina's father, and the Templars are working to make sure that does not happen.

   So to get right to the point, the Ice Pirates doesn't have a lot going for it.  The performances from the cast are solid, but also over the top reflecting the attempted humorous nature of the material. The humor in the film is really broad and quite sexual and for the most part fails. What really works for the most part is the set design and costuming. Though quite a bit of it feels like hand me downs from larger productions at the studio, the crew and creatives behind the film make it work for them, and overall the film looks quite solid.  When I was watching it I thought of the design as sort of a middle ground between a large scale sci-fi production like Alien, Star Wars, or Blade Runner, and a steps above what Doctor Who was doing in the late 80's (Think the McCoy era, for some reason I kept thinking back to the Happiness Patrol).

   I will say this, not so much for Ice Pirates but Warner Archives as whole. This release of Ice Pirates proves beyond the shadow of a doubt how WAC truly listens to it's fans. Ice Pirates I believe I saw once as a video rental as a child, and it hasn't crossed my mind in the nearly quarter century since. It has, however, build up a minor cult following who petitioned for it's high definition release and has now received it.

 

Audio/Video  (4/5)

     The Ice Pirates is presented by WAC in a excellent 1:85:1 1080p AVC encoded transfer. If there's some small amount of praise I can offer the contents of the Blu-ray is that it looks and sounds fantastic. WAC has done a wonderful job making Ice Pirates look it's very best. Colors here really pop off the screen, detail is excellent, and there is a natural intact grain structure present.

   The audio is presented in DTS-HD MA 2.0 mono. The track sounds quite good for what it si with dialogue, score and ambient sounds coming through nicely. I did not detect any issues with the track.

 

Extras (.5/5)

   The only extra present on the disc is the film's theatrical trailer.

 

Overall

   Satire is a very difficult thing to get right, and unfortunately the Ice Pirates aims too broad and falls on it's face. The film does have some nice design work to offer a slight reluctant recommendation. The Blu-ray itself restores the film nicely as well. There are no extras which to speak of minus the trailer. NOT RECOMMENDED.