The Ice Pirates (1984)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 11-May-2005

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Main Menu Audio
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1984
Running Time 90:05 (Case: 94)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (38:50) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Stewart Raffill

Warner Home Video
Starring Robert Urich
Mary Crosby
Michael D. Roberts
Anjelica Huston
John Matuszak
Ron Perlman
John Carradine
Natalie Core
Jeremy West
Bruce Vilanch
Alan Caillou
Marcia Lewis
Daryl Keith Roach
Case ?
RPI $9.95 Music Bruce Broughton

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
German for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    The success of the original Star Wars trilogy opened the doors wide for a slew of sci-fi to flood the market, each hoping to cash in on the success of George Lucas' masterpiece. A number cashed in on the commercial success of Star Wars, a few cashed in on its critical success, The Ice Pirates managed neither. Like The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, it has built a notable cult following over the years for being "so bad it's good" despite being a bit of a turkey in its day. Although intended to be a pantomime spoof of sci-fi of the day, as many of the laughs to be found in this one come from the sheer stupidity of the movie itself and its styrofoam sets as they do from intentional gags.

    In a future where water is the most valuable commodity in the universe, Jason (Robert Urich) and his crew (including cult favourites Angelica Huston and Ron Perlman) are ice pirates - regularly raiding container ships carrying ice blocks between worlds. One day they hit the motherload - millions of gallons of ice and a beautiful princess (Mary Crosby, daughter of the rather more talented Bing) to boot. Instead of escaping with the loot, they find themselves captured and sentenced to live as eunuch slaves (did I mention that The Ice Pirates falls back on potty humour on more than the odd occasion?) only to be rescued by the princess and taken on a rather nonsensical quest to find her missing father and stop the evil corporation that holds monopoly over the water supply in the galaxy.

    This is a very silly ride. Anyone looking for remotely serious sci-fi should steer well clear, but anyone looking to laugh as much at the movie as with it will have a good night in with The Ice Pirates.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality


    The video quality is reasonable for a budget release. It is certainly better than any VHS transfer you are likely to find of the film, but not to the standard you would typically expect of a full price DVD release.

    The video is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio that is 16x9 enhanced.

    The video is a little soft, but even throughout. The brightness level of the image is significantly higher than it should be throughout the film, and is occasionally a little uneven though this does not detract from the film too much. The brightness does wash out the darker scenes somewhat and consequently the level of shadow detail is relatively poor. There are no issues with grain.

    Occasional small film artefacts are visible throughout the feature, but the transfer is generally quite clean. Mild telecine wobble is evident throughout the whole film, particularly during the opening credits. This effect does not make the film unwatchable, but can be mildly distracting at points where the camera should be static.

    A large MPEG blocking artefact is visible around one spaceship as it moves across the screen at 2:12 (the near static bright box follows the movement of the ship), but there are no other DVD video compression related issues.

    There are a large range of subtitles available on this disc.

    The layer change is somewhat awkwardly placed during a scene at 38:50, but was not noticeable on my equipment.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    There are three audio tracks available; English, French and German Dolby Digital mono (192 kbps). Although each of the audio tracks is very basic they are true to the original source. There is no surround use or deep bass that reaches the subwoofer

    The audio is quite clear throughout the feature and there are no sync issues. The score is quite upbeat, the kind of rock/orchestral score that screams '1980s science fiction'.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Forced Anti-Piracy Trailer Lucky Dip

    This disc opens with an interesting twist on the dreaded anti-piracy clip many DVD owners have come to hate. When the disc is first inserted, the viewer is prompted to select their location. Depending on the location selected, the viewer either skips the anti-piracy clip or gets a regionalised version of the same trailer. Whilst getting threatened in a foreign language is worth a chuckle, this is ultimately an even bigger pain than the anti-piracy clips usually are because it requires interaction to proceed.

Main Menu Audio

    Static menu with an adventurous segment of the film's score.

Theatrical Trailer

    Once upon a time, Hollywood hadn't figured out how to make a slick trailer. This is a relic from that time that fits well with the so-bad-it's-good nature of the movie. It also features a few clips that didn't make it into the movie!

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 version misses the German language track and most of the subtitle tracks of the Region 4 edition. Region 4 misses nothing. Particularly given the low price, there is little incentive to shop overseas (although I have not viewed the transfer quality for comparison).


    The movie is so bad it's good! Star Wars this is not.

    The transfer and lack of extras are not great, but are befitting of the budget price of this release. A Star Wars transfer this is not.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Adam Gould (Totally Biolicious!)
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDLG V8824W, using S-Video output
DisplayLG 80cm 4x3 CRT. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderPioneer VSX-D512. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-D512
Speakers150W DTX front speakers, and a 100W centre and 2 surrounds, 12 inch PSB Image 6i powered sub

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Originally in 3D ? - Glimmer
Not in 3D - Craig Andrews
3D - dlormans (This is my biography)
Yeah, I think you mean Spacehunter.... -