I had to jog my memory to think about the last time I actually saw ANY pirate movie – it has been a while, to say the very least! I pinned it down to “Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World’s End,” which I did see in theatre, but to be fair, that was probably the last chance I gave to that series, and from what it appears, pirate-themed movies altogether. Beyond that, my experience still seems very limited, and even further back in time - we’d be talking about things like ”Cutthroat Island,” “Peter Pan,” and “Waterworld” – do any of those movies even count to those that really love their pirate stuff? Shiver me timbers, matey – I’m obviously way outta my depths here, but let’s give this a shot and see what “The Last Pirate” is all about.
Alright – credit where credit is due, I’m interested. The establishing shots in “The Last Pirate” are great; the scenery is stellar, the location is perfect, and the story of this movie immediately begins to reveal many twists and turns as we meet the main character, Arius. He’s a whole lot more troubled than he even appears at first, which is actually saying quite a lot, considering that it never feels like he’s not exactly in a state of peace when we meet him. He’s battling an evil presence known as Infernalius, who has already got its hooks deep into Arius by the time we meet him, and we’ll learn much more about his previous struggles when we eventually meet Ellis (Garth Gunderson) on the shores of an island beach. Cue the backstory and the sword fighting! As viewers, we assume that Arius is the good guy, but to be truthful, we don’t really know as “The Last Pirate” begins – and Ellis sure seems to view him differently. For plenty of good reasons, too, if everything that Ellis is saying about Arius is true. So do we cheer for the person we assume to be the hero, even when they’re possessed by something evil - and have done a whole lot of heinous things in their past? “The Last Pirate” certainly begins with some exciting ideas.
As timelines begin to cross and clues are revealed, we meet a couple of new characters, Julia and Brian. Infernalius seems to be highly interested in Brian and considers “the vast knowledge he contains” to be “enlightening” in fact, “far more than those I have already taken.” And I’m sitting here like, I know the options for souls and such seem to be a fairly limited resource on this island - and I’m sure that Infernalius is hungry and all – but have you met Brian? I didn’t get the sense we were talkin’ Rhodes Scholar here. Which ain’t a knock against Rich Pintello, who plays the young lad - he fills the role just fine. I suppose it’s more of a knock against Infernalius and evil’s sense of judgment on extreme intelligence. It’s more to do with the fact that Brian’s coming from a different time than Infernalius does – that’s what makes this dude interesting to him and so like…regular…to us. In any event, while all this is going on, Arius is still wrestling for control of his soul, and he doesn’t seem to be winning the battle. I enjoyed how Antonio J. Medina played this character and how he essentially ended up having to play two roles in one.
There is a narration of Infernalius that echoes throughout the wind, but when we run into him on a physical level, it’s always as though Arius and Medina are playing double-duty in “The Last Pirate.” He pulls it off very well, though; we know who is who when we see him switch between personalities as the story continues. As for Alexander Teach, played by Jeff Parmenter, I felt like we stumbled on a character that was a little less consequential to some degree but clearly important to the storyline as well. I was never too convinced of the need for his inclusion, but at the same time, I couldn’t really think of how “The Last Pirate” would get to where it was going without him. Adam Jace deserves a shout-out, as well as Ranger Gideon. You won’t meet him until the very end, but for a film like this to wrap up in the way you absolutely know that it will, he’s essential.
So…yeah…I mean…I don’t really feel like I’ve got a lot of useful things to say to Writer/Director Christian Pavlik – he’s already going to know that a story like “The Last Pirate” is going to appeal to a more niche part of the potential audience out there - an audience that loves their swashbucklers and such. Story-wise, I felt like he did a great job of pulling us into the film with how the details are revealed at the start. In the middle, I feel like it might lose a few folks with the crossing of timelines and whatnot, but to be fair, it’s linear - and it does make sense. As far as the very end is concerned, like I said, we can see that coming, and that’s probably Pavlik’s biggest opportunity to push himself harder. Believe me, it’s not so much that we see the ending of how “The Last Pirate” is going to go so much as it’s the same ending as every fourth or fifth movie any of us watch, from Fantasy to Horror – and we see this method of wrapping things up all the time because it not only works, but it also provides the option for more of what we just experienced, should the creators be so inclined to make some. So yes, I do get it, but at the same time, in terms of uniqueness in the writing & art, there’s a trade-off being made in that regard - that I’m never convinced is the route you definitely wanna go if you want to stand out from the rest of what’s out there, and when I see how strong things start in a story like “The Last Pirate,” I have to hold Pavlik a little accountable to the level of creativity he’s already shown us, right?
Still, I was quite entertained for the hour that “The Last Pirate” commands and it kept me watching. Also, yes, I would indeed watch more. Ultimately, Pavlik does a lot with very little – we’re not talking about big giant pirate ships and a journey out to sea; we’re talking about a film that keeps things close to the shoreline instead but tells a tale that’s still quite engaging. I’m going with three stars out of five here. I might not start binge-watching all the pirate-themed movies as a result of seeing “The Last Pirate,” but it managed to keep my attention, and it kept me entertained. Well done.