The Ice Pirates (1984)
Director: Stewart Raffill
Starring: Robert Urich, Mary Crosby, Michael D. Roberts, Anjelica Huston & Jack Matuszak
Released by: Warner Archive
Reviewed by Mike Kenny
Set in an intergalactic future where water is of utmost value and controlled by the evil Templars, The Ice Pirates centers on a motley crew of swashbuckling adventure seekers who dare to rebel. Accompanied by an attractive princess, the unlikely heroes charter a mission to locate her missing father on a rumored planet engulfed with the prized resource. Robert Urich (S.W.A.T.), Mary Crosby (Dallas), Michael D. Roberts (Rain Man), Anjelica Huston (The Addams Family) and Jack Matuszak (The Goonies) comprise the ensemble cast.
Influenced by George Lucas’ Star Wars saga and the post-apocalyptic insanity of Mad Max, The Ice Pirates protrudes its tongue into cheek for an inherently comic space adventure. Ravaged by the villainous Templars, the future of the galaxy appears grim with water in short supply. Led by the daring Jason (Urich) and his loyal team of pirates, the understandable thieves attempt to steal ice from the regime before crossing paths with the royal Princess Karina (Crosby). While others evade capture, Jason and best friend Roscoe (Roberts) are sentenced to slavery where the unpleasant procedure of castration is performed before joining other high-pitched, leotard wearing prisoners. Fortunately, the princess has other plans when she hires Jason and his soon to be reunited crew on a dangerous mission to recover her father. From valiant sword fights to destructive droid battles and a trippy time-warp conclusion, the fate of the universe rests on the futuristic pirates discovering a mythical water planet that may or may not exist.
Modestly successful at the box-office, The Ice Pirates adheres to the tropes of other such space epics of the era while, taking itself none too seriously much to the enjoyment of viewers. Marking an early appearance from Ron Perlman (Hellboy) as one of Jason’s fellow cronies and one of the respected John Carradine’s (House of Frankenstein) final efforts, The Ice Pirates delivers top-notch special effects magic and enthralling production design that unashamedly caters to its over the top decade. Packed with hilarious racial jokes and sexual innuendoes that unquestionably flew over the heads of its intended PG-rated audience, The Ice Pirates is a bonafide cult favorite that keeps its action rolling while laughing all the way to the end credits.
Warner Archive presents The Ice Pirates with a 1080p transfer, sporting a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Boasting a noticeably filmic appearance, detail is sharp with textures in costumes choices and skin tones pleasing throughout. Colors found in the neon buttons of various space shuttles and other robotic characters pop nicely while, black levels waver from moments of satisfaction to instances of speckles and mild noise. A healthy upgrade from previous releases, The Ice Pirates makes an impressive high-definition debut. Equipped with a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mix, dialogue is clean and audible with action sequences involving laser blasts, explosions and other chaos registering with a slightly restrained presence. Meanwhile, special features include, the film’s Trailer (2:20).
Although imperfect, The Ice Pirates is a genuinely fun and engaging exploration of 80s science fiction that aligns impressive visuals with harmless mockery of its very genre. Warp speeding to Blu-ray for the first time ever, Warner Archive presents the cult hit with an overly pleasing presentation sure to quench the thirst of the nostalgic and first time curios.