Sunday, December 03, 2006

Film Review: Star Wreck: In The Pirkinning

Star Wreck: In the Pirkinning is a spoof of Star Trek and Babylon 5 by acclaimed young Finnish director Timo Vuorensola. It was released in 2005, is available on DVD or as a download from starwreck.com, and stars amateur film-maker and actor Samuli Torssonen (also credited as the film's creator) as Emperor (and Captain) James B. Pirk, Timo Vuorensola as Commander Dwarf, Atte Joutsen as Captain John K. Sherrypie, and established Finnish actor Kari Väänänen as Russian President Ulyanov.

The main thrust of the story is that Captain Pirk and his hapless crew (including the aforementioned Commander Dwarf, a Plingon officer - violent but cowardly - and Info, a tediously exact android with flaking paint) are stranded in the late 20th or early 21st century. The timeline has been hopelessly corrupted by the sex-crazed Vulgars, who allowed their spaceship to be sold to Russia courtesy of one Jeff Cochbrane. In an attempt to return to their own time, Pirk and the crew of the CPP Potkustartti (translated into English as the CPP Kickstart) enlist the help of charming Russian President Ulyanov, and the hopelessly incompetent former Chernobyl worker Sergey Fukov, to rebuild the P-Fleet and conquer the Earth with superior, future technology. This accomplished, they attempt to return to their own time through a maggothole, but succeed only in meeting up with Captain John K Sherrypie (a man fond of interminable speeches) and crew (including the stroppy Ivanovitsa, the drunkard Mikhail Garybrandi and the enigmatic Flush) from an alternate Earth with Babel 13 technology (instead of the P-Fleet); whereupon, the two Earth forces engage in an epic battle for control of the alternate planet.

Yes, it's all rather daft but manages to be quite funny; as any good translation should, the film makers have gone to great lengths to ensure that the cultural references and Star Trek/B5 in-jokes work as well in English as they do in Finnish. The film is the latest in the series of (otherwise mostly animated) Star Trek parodies, which several of the actors and crew involved in the project started as teenagers - as such, there is quite a lot of teen humour (such as the scene when Pirk spots a "hot chick" in a hamburger bar and quite blatantly attempts to stare down the front of her dress), but also some nice in-jokes. The Babel 13 defence fighters are called Star Flurries (a parody of the Star Furies of the "real thing" as it were), and there are the B13 battleships Backgammon and Mannerheim (the latter named after a famous Finnish general and former head of state).

Where this production really shines, however, is in the special effects and score, which look and sound (almost) as if this were a professional production. Much of this is probably due to the fact that the film took an astonishing 7 years to make, much of that time being taken up in waiting for the render-farms to finish the space-scenes, etc. These go way beyond what one would normally expect from a fan film, and have even garnered praise from professional critics.

One thing to remember is that, upon first watching the film, in a couple of places the translation appeared to be somewhat spotty (for example, one of the characters at one point appears to refer to "resorts" instead of "resources"), however, Wikipedia's entry on the film claims that this is deliberate, and is a faithful rendering of certain malapropisms on the part of one of the characters in the original Finnish.

Bottom line, if you can put up with the Finnish language soundtrack (though as I said, there are English subtitles), and are prepared to take the film on its own merits - as a very good example of parody/fan fiction - take a look at this film. I think you'll enjoy it.

7/10.

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