Thursday, July 26, 2012

In short: Sky Pirates (1986)

Initially, I was all up for doing my usual dance of beginning even a short write-up of a movie with a quipping plot synopsis, but then I realized that the plot of Colin Eggleston's Sky Pirates - a film not containing any sky pirates - is just too tedious to recount. Just think Indiana Jones rip-off about an Australian Word War II pilot, some stuff about a stone tablet made by the aliens who made the Moai of the Easter Islands with mystical powers, a random bad guy without any (not even a pulp villain one) motivation, and much boredom in between and you're good to go.

Now, I don't actually demand all that much of my Indiana Jones rip-offs: give me a quipping hero, a perhaps slightly competent heroine, fisticuffs, ruins, some stunts, and some mystic nonsense and I'm perfectly willing to overlook plot holes, dubious special effects, problematic representation of brown people and musical scores that attempt to out-copy the master of self-copy John Williams. However, I need to have the feeling the film at hand is actually trying to entertain me, which unfortunately isn't at all a feeling Sky Pirates provided me with. In fact, it's difficult to imagine a pulp style adventure movie that's more needlessly shoddy and apathetic.

I would not be surprised at all if the film suffered from some major production mishaps, for how else can one explain an adventure film where characters die or get kidnapped between scenes, and that also misses an actual climax; at least, I can't imagine anyone thinking the climax Sky Pirates does have is anything other than anti-climactic and boring. Of course, a boring climax somewhat fits a film whose hero (played by a completely emotionless John Hargreaves who may or may not have been asleep throughout the shoot and produced wistful thoughts about Richard Chamberlain in me) shows the charisma and excitement of a whitened wall, and whose villain (Max Phipps) lacks a master plan, a personality or even a single memorable trait. I'd say something comparable about Meredith Phillips's heroine too, but alas, she didn't even leave that much of an impression on me.

There's a deathly air of apathy surrounding the whole film that can't be excused by its comparatively low budget, for if there's one thing pulp cinema has taught me, it's that a sense of speed and excitement can be had on the lowest of budgets. A film just needs to work for them, which Sky Pirates never bothers to do. In feel, Sky Pirates reminds me of one of those late period El Santo movies where it's clear that neither the hero nor the filmmakers have even the slightest interest in the proceedings on screen, and even less interest in entertaining anyone.

How the hell Colin Eggleston (whom you may know as the director of the excellent outback weird tale Long Weekend) ended up directing a film this boring, I have no idea.

No comments: