Pete Winning and the Pirates (2015) – By Philip Smolen

In the near future after a bitter nuclear war, the earth has been flooded by the melting ice caps and now precious little land is available. Much of the land that is around is contaminated with radiation and produces mutations. Pirate Pete Winning (Mike Donis) may be a scallywag and a scoundrel but he knows that a special map exists that can show people the way through all of the radioactive land and treacherous waters. So he puts together a rag tag crew consisting of Finch (Shawn Devlin), Eva (Saffron Cassady) and One-Eyed Bill (Ash Catherwood) and sets sail to find the map. But the journey is dangerous and Pete has to look out for double and triple crosses. And more importantly, he has to be careful not to run into the evil Queen (Jamie Elizabeth Sampson) who doesn’t want anyone to get the map.

“Pete Winning and the Pirates” is a compilation of two seasons worth of episodes of a recent Canadian TV show. It’s a delightful spoof of both sci-fi spectacles and pirate films. The movie is tongue in cheek and loves to play with pirate film stereotypes. For instance all of the pirates in the film don’t have swords. They all use laser guns and are content to repeatedly blast away at one another without hitting anything.

The script by James Christopher and Mike Donis is bright and witty and loves to call attention to the silliness of the situation. For instance when Finch loses his hand in a fight with several sharks, he isn’t overly concerned, he just gets a laser gun from a fellow crewmember and hooks it up to his stump. The screenplay also makes sure that the pirates’ dialogue is properly arch and kitschy and it also cleverly details the trials that Pete and his crewman face once they are separated. Everyone is given sufficient motivation for wanting the map.

The cast is simply magical. Mike Donis, Saffron Cassady, Sandra DaCosta and Ash Catherwood all turn in wonderful performances that really help sell the satire. But a special shout out has to go to Shawn Devlin as Finch. He brings a warmth and gentleness to his simple crewman character that is a joy to watch.

 Featuring a magnificent full-bodied music score by Aaron Tsang and directed with consummate skill by Mike Donis, Jason Leaver and Navin Ramaswaran, “Pete Winning and the Pirates is a brilliant combination of “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981), “Star Wars” (1977) and “The Crimson Pirate” (1952). It’s as refreshing and invigorating as a cool ocean breeze. Huzzah!

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