After a brief break, I have, once again, decided to participate in MovieRob’s Genre Grandeur! For the month of May, the theme is “Reluctant Hero Movies”. I’m not going to lie, my choice of this review required some thought. After spending some time on the internet, searching through lists about “Reluctant Hero Movies”, I finally selected the 2014 picture, Captain Sabertooth and the Treasure of Lama Rama! I had never heard of this film prior to watching it. But I was interested in seeing what other studios had to offer when it comes to pirate movies. I enjoy Disney’s Pirates and the Caribbean trilogy, as the high-quality production value is one of the strongest elements. I have seen the fourth film in this series, but I was not a fan of it. I was also curious to discover who the “reluctant hero” of this story would be. This kind of hero can be reluctant for a variety of reasons, so I wanted to see how this theme would be applied to the story of Captain Sabertooth and the Treasure of Lama Rama!
Things I liked about the film:
The acting: The acting performances in this movie ranged from fine to good. But, while watching Captain Sabertooth and the Treasure of Lama Rama, I noticed a few stand-out performances! Vinjar Pettersen does a good job presenting Pinky as a “reluctant hero”. In this film, Pinky is a “reluctant hero” because he only aspired to be a cabin boy, not because he didn’t want to be a hero. Despite having this simple desire, Pinky always finds a way to put the ship’s crew before himself. Through a variety of emotions, Vinjar effectively showcases how a pirate’s life can affect someone so young. In one scene, Pinky is excited about having his heroic efforts recognized by Captain Sabertooth. When the praise is given to another crew member instead, Pinky’s face immediately falls and he becomes disappointed. Speaking of Captain Sabertooth, Kyrre Haugen Sydness brought this character to life with the use of exaggerated expressions and sophisticated mannerisms. I’m not familiar with Captain Sabertooth outside of this film. But what I liked about Kyrre’s portrayal is how it presented a different kind of pirate captain than what I’m used to. Sofie Bjerke’s portrayal of Pinky’s friend, Raven, was very endearing! The emotions and behaviors she gave her character realistically showed how a child in Raven’s situation might react in that particular circumstance. A great example is when she locked herself and another character, Rosa, in a storage room on Captain Sabertooth’s ship in order to help Pinky.
The scenery: Pirate movies are usually known for showing picturesque landscapes. The reason for this creative choice is to show the various travels a pirate may take. This film is no exception, as there were some beautiful locations featured! According to IMDB, one of the countries where this movie was filmed was Thailand. From the film’s first scene, where Captain Sabertooth’s crew is walking through a dense jungle, to the moments where the ship is at sea, the natural surroundings of this country are wonderfully highlighted! Aspects of these areas include deep green foliage and clear blue water. Another country where this movie was filmed is Morocco. This location also boasted photogenic scenery, such as a nearby beach. With a sandy shore and bright blue water, this beach appears inviting!
The set design: I was really impressed by the set design that was found in this movie! It appeared to belong in the world this creative team crafted and the style choices made helped the space look visually appealing. One example was the guest room in King Rufus’ palace. An interesting design piece that caught my eye was the two blue marble pillars. They stood out in that room because it was the only pop of color among the palette of white and beige. Captain Sabertooth’s quarters was another interesting space. The dark wood throughout this room was consistent with the wood on the ship. While this would seem like an obvious choice, I noticed how it was coordinated with the color palette of Captain Sabertooth’s wardrobe. In a film like Captain Sabertooth and the Treasure of Lama Rama, I’ve never seen a character’s clothing choices complement a room’s interior design. This creative choice brought a newer element to a film of this nature.
What I didn’t like about the film:
Lower stakes: In the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy, there was always imminent danger present, causing the stakes to be higher. Beloved characters, like Captain Jack Sparrow, faced harsh weather elements, injury, and even death. The characters in Captain Sabertooth and the Treasure of Lama Rama, on the other hand, never appeared to be in any sort of danger. I understand this film was meant to be a more family-friendly version of a typical pirate’s tale. However, that knowledge is what prevented me from fearing for the characters’ well-being. This lack of danger also caused the stakes to be lower than they should have been. There was very little risk involved and not enough adrenaline.
Poor ADR: An element that can help the audience get invested in an actor’s performance is the quality of the ADR, or automated dialog replacement. If done well, the actor’s dialog can look and sound like their character is effortlessly speaking. But, if the ADR is bad, it can be very distracting. The latter is, sadly, the case for Captain Sabertooth and the Treasure of Lama Rama. Most of the time, the actors’ dialog did not match up with their mouth movements. The characters’ speech was at a faster speed than the actors’ mouths could move. This error, at times, took me out of the film.
Pinky’s subplot: Throughout the film, Pinky was curious about his biological father’s identity and whereabouts. He is even warned about discovering this information, as he is told that hope can be a dangerous thing. While this is a good message, the story itself could have been given more attention. Within this movie, Pinky’s subplot is treated as an afterthought and doesn’t seem to lead anywhere. Sure, Pinky is given some vague details about where his father could be. But this part of the story never reached a resolution, preventing the audience from learning anything new about Pinky’s past. If anything, the vague details that Pinky receives serve as “sequel bait” for another installment that may or may not exist.
My overall impression:
I said in the introduction that the high-quality production value is one of the reasons why I enjoy the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy. Even though Disney has capitalized on the pirate movies, that shouldn’t discourage other studios from creating their own pirate stories. However, if any studio is planning on making a pirate film, they either have to go big or don’t even bother showing up. There were some aspects of Captain Sabertooth and the Treasure of Lama Rama that seemed to contain a good amount of effort. Stand-out performances and eye-catching set design were just two of the film’s highlights. But, at the same time, the execution of other aspects was poor. Most of the humor felt forced and there were even some jokes that lasted for a little too long. When thinking about this film, it seems like the creative team put a greater emphasis on the style than the substance. It also feels like Captain Sabertooth and the Treasure of Lama Rama tried to copy Pirates of the Caribbean’s math homework without having a strong understanding of how the trilogy solved those problems. Personally, I’d stick with the first three Pirates of the Caribbean films for now.
Overall score: 5 out of 10
Have you heard of Captain Sabertooth? Which pirate film do you enjoy watching? Share your thoughts in the comment section!
Have fun at the movies!