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I have great memories from the early to mid-eighties of my dad taking me to our little hometown theater to see anything remotely kid friendly, mostly fantasy or sci-fi films, stuff like Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger, Flash Gordon and Conan the Destroyer. I have great affection for these sub-par films because of the good memories attached to them. The Ice Pirates was one of those films, and I've revisited it quite a few times over the years, but it had been at least 10 years since I'd seen it. I wasn't sure it would hold up.

What I didn't realize the last time I saw it was how damn funny it is. As a kid I saw it as a fun swashbuckling, space adventure, which it still is, but I didn't get half the jokes till now. It's a great spoof of Star Wars and pirate films, while having its own unique spirit and remaining a fully cohesive film. You genuinely care for these characters as they fight the good fight against the evil conglomerate-Empire that holds the Universe's limited water supply hostage.

There's Jason, the ship's Captain and womanizer, not necessarily in that order; played with great pizazz by Robert Urich. His sidekick and second in command is Roscoe, who's an expert in robotics, they have a great comedic chemistry together. Princess Karina, is your typical damsel in distress, but she's not too annoying. Two of the ship's crew are filled out by some actors who went on to much bigger and better things, Ron Perlman and Anjelica Huston, and the film feels that much better for their involvement. The whole cast is really great, they don't treat the film like a lark, their dedication to their characters makes the film feel better than it is.

The film has quite a few inspired moments; just a few minutes into the film, there's a hilarious scene where robots fight kung fu style. The one that scarred me for life, is where Jason and Roscoe have been captured and are about to get their balls cut off, to be turned into unich-slaves, they float down a conveyor belt, getting their clothes cut off along the way, when a large metal mouth drops down at crotch level and is about to bite off their junk, before their saved at the last second. Even at a very young age it freaked me out, and I remembered it for years. Another classic scene towards the end of the film, happens when the ship goes through a time-warp and everybody starts aging rapidly. By the end, the pirates are all fighting with long gray beards and Jason's grown son comes to save the day.

The Ice Pirates, might be a bit too cheesy for today's average viewer, but those with an appreciation for fine cheese should really enjoy this film. Despite the low budget 80's special effects, the space travel stuff holds up pretty well. The robots are obviously just guys in suits, but they're fun to watch, as they give them a lot of personality. The characters are all pretty memorable, while the story is classic good-guy underdogs vs. all-powerful bad-guy stuff. I think that the young ones would really enjoy the film as well. A very fun, forgotten 80's cult-classic. - Grade: B+
(Seen on 7/6/08)

2 Responses to The Ice Pirates:

  1. One of my all time favorite B-Movies.

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