Pirate news, reviews, and commentary...

Review: Treasure Island – 1990 (starring Charlton Heston)

Rating: ★★★★½
It’s a shame this is so hard to find because it’s clearly the most accurate, and I believe the best, version of Treasure Island out there. The script is very loyal to the book and the actors do an incredible job. This holds particularly true for Christian Bale, who plays Jim Hawkins. As anyone who’s seen a movie where kids outwit adults knows, it’s a terribly awkward thing to portray with any amount of believability. But Christian pulls it off with great finesse – Watching him it’s easy to picture this boy growing up to be an admiral some day. Charlton Heston as Long John Silver, however, was somewhat disappointing. He just seemed wooden to me. But then again, I can’t really picture Heston ever being anything but.

Heston’s lackluster performance aside, it’s a fantastic movie, and definitely my favorite interpretation of a fantastic book.

Review: Treasure Island – 1950 (starring Robert Newton)

Rating: ★★★☆☆
I must confess that I never saw this movie as a kid. Or if I did, I don’t remember it. As such I’ve no sense of nostalgia or childhood fondness attached to it. If you do, that’s fine – we love what we love, and we don’t need to justify it. But having seen it for the first time as an adult, I just don’t think it was all that great. Jim Hawkins was much too young to believably outsmart everyone, and his pudgy baby-face only made it all the more silly to watch. Long John was a giant, one-legged grease ball, more goofy than anything else. And the pirates, with their peculiar jaunt and super curly hairstyles, were just plain silly. I suppose the story was more-or-less loyal to the book, but it all had that dated and muted feel that is so common amongst older Disney movies.

In a word, “eh.”

Review: Pirate Songs

Rating: ★★½☆☆
Mary Malloy & Stuart M. Frank

Genre: Genuine traditional pirate shanteys.
Rating: PG
Target Audience: Grown ups, mostly

Buy it now from Billy Bones’ Pirate Locker!

If you want to give a try to a more traditional style of pirate music, then this is for you. These are very traditional sounding sea-songs, all having to do with piracy. Not only are the songs authentic, but the voices that sing them also feel very real – not all studio polished and Britney Spearsish, but like real, sea-going folk. It’s fun, but generally something I can only take in small doses. One song does stand out, however – “Bold Trinity” is truly a haunting song, and sure to enrage cabin boys everywhere.

Review: Sid Meier’s Pirates!

Rating: ★★★★½
I remember playing the original Sid Meier’s Pirates! back when it was the only pirate game around. I’d sit for hours basking in the cold glow of my Amiga, pillaging villages and courting governor’s daughters. Years later I had the pleasure of revisiting the game on my Sega Genisis with the release of Pirates! Gold. And now Sid Meier has treated us to yet another installment of his wonderful creation.

First, let me be plain – this is NOT the “end-all, be-all” of pirate simulations, nor was it intended to be. This is a highly detailed, multi-faceted arcade style game – realism clearly took second place to entertainment in most every respect. A small ship can dodge cannonballs. Your character can do flips during sword fights. And governor’s daughters’ display gravity defiance that truly boggles the mind. That said, this game is beautiful, and it is FUN! (more…)

Review: Seven Seas

Rating: ★★★½☆

Popcap has a ton of cute little games, and they seem just intellectual enough that they probably increase your SAT scores or someting like that. Seven Seas is their pirate-based game where you sail around in your little ship blowing up other pirates. The tricky bit is that everyone moves on a grid, and if you’re good you can anticipate where the enemy pirates will go before they go there. If you’re not good – well – you get blowed up. It’s a fun game, and just a little addictive. The cannon blasts make a terribly satisfying “boom,” and the music’s catchy too. There’s an online version, but it’s not nearly so impressive as the one you can download. There’s a version for your Palm Pilot as well, if you’re so inclined.

Review: Ace Murder Mystery Pirate Edition

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Rum helps us drink like pirates, costumes help us dress like pirates, and music helps us sing and dance like pirates. But there’s just not much out there that helps us ACT like pirates. Enter Ace Pirate Murder Mystery – you and seven-to-nine of your dearest friends get together to act like scalliwags, eat-drink-and-be-merry, and ruthlessly accuse each other of the most diabolical murder of Captain Kidd. Who could ask for more?

I was unsure what exactly a murder mystery party entailed, but when the package arrived I found a great deal of the work already done for me. 10 party invitations inluded an introduction to the game and ideas for how each character should dress for the evening – all I had to do was add a time and date, and figure out which character I thought would best suit each of my friends. Also provided was an instruction manual for me, the host, telling me what to do (and what not to do – no good peaking at something I shouldn’t, and thereby spoiling some surprises,) along with character-specific instruction booklets, secret clues, 2 CDs (one narrated, the other effective mood-setting background sounds), and name cards (just in case we forgot who was who.) (more…)

Review: The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists

Rating: ★★★★★
The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists
by Gideon Defoe

All true works of literary genius share three common traits:

1) They possess a timeless relevence

2) They speak to the reader on a level that is both highly personal yet universal

and 3) They most always feature a monocled-monkey on the cover, frequently clutching a pirate flag.

Based on this criteria alone, Gideon Defoe’s sure-to-be legendary novel of pirates, evolution, and ham is clearly one for the ages. His humor is deeply varied as it ranges from the very dry to the highly absurd – I literally couldn’t put it down, and was thus banned from the bedroom as my wife couldn’t get any sleep with me constantly giggling through the wee hours. (more…)

Review: Pirate Medallion

Rating: ★★★☆☆
Celtic Jackalope

The devil is in the details – and nothing completes the details of a fine pirate ensemble like a piece or two of choice pirate jewelry.

Celtic Jackalope’s Pirate Medallion is a lovely sterling coin a slight bit larger than a quarter. A la Pirates of the Caribbean, an empty-eyed skull stares outward from an Aztec-compass pattern, warning friend and foe alike that you’re not to be trifled with. Identical and fully-detailed on both sides, the surface is a wonderful mix between polished and roughed (shinier than the picture implies), which makes the imagery all the more striking. The coin itself is thick enough to remain solid, yet thin and lightweight enough that you could easily make it a part of your daily-wear without feeling like you have a coaster hanging from your neck. The bale, imprinted on one side with a skull & crossed swords image, is sturdy and appears to be welded. I’ve owned jewelry in the past where the bale would bend open, resulting in the whole affair falling off its chain. There’s no such danger with this piece – it will surely cling to your throat like grim death.

If you’ve been searching for a cursed Aztec coin to call your own, then Celtic Jackalope’s Pirate Medallion is a fine choice, indeed. It’s shiny, solid, and oh-so-piratey.

Review: Rhum Barbancourt 8

Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Rhum Barbancourt 8 year

Click to buy!
from Internet Wines and Spirits

In light of the recent happenings in Haiti, I figured I should try a Haitian rum. No, it doesn’t do anything to ease their troubles, but it makes me feel good. It’s as if I was doing something special and helpful, even though I’m not. Fortunately, Rhum Babancourt had more of an impact on me than my purchase of said rum had on the economy of Haiti. Unfortunately, it wasn’t THAT much more of an impact. (more…)

Review: Cutthroat Island

Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Ummm. Yeah. Where to begin? Well – er – what went wrong here? They actually built pirate ships to make this movie (which is bragable), and Geena Davis isn’t entirely un-cute. But, well… and Mathew Modine manages to crack out a funny line or two. Yeah.

For crying out loud! Even the monkey is bad! He’s ugly and he can’t even look cute when saluting! The plot was tired, the action was dull, and only Mathew Modine and Frank Langella put up even passable performances! Disagree? Watch it again and then try to defend the line “Bad Dawg” to me – AWFUL!!!

The only reason I’ll watch this movie again (and I will, God help me) is in that sick hope that somehow it will be better next time around. It won’t be though – and I’ll curse Geena Davis for it.