It’s a Syfy original starring the guy from the Highlander TV show. Clearly it’s going to be the best evocaiton of the career of the great Elizabethan sea dog ever, right?
So, obviously this film is garbage, and obviously it bears no relationship to history, unless there was an incident in 1592 that I don’t know about in which Francis Drake’s nonexistent daughter was kidnapped to force him into seeking the mysterious Tree of Life, sending him on a journey guided by a map drawn by Plato during which he gets attacked by giant lobsters and things.
Oddly, there are constant references to things the actual Drake did, like getting trapped by the Spanish at San Juan de Ulua or sacking Cadiz. It’s basically sort of like Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter. Not that there isn’t a long and rich history of completely fanciful adventure stories starring real pirates, of course.
It’s garbage, you’ll be shocked to learn — cheap, clumsy, half-assed fights, ropey CGI, silly dialogue, about six guys in the crew of the ship, the whole bit. But it has a lot of surprising good points.
I quite like to think that the giant lobster attack is inspired by historical maps:
Also, Paul plays as a preening glory hound, the kind of guy who stands heroically in a boat with his cape flowing behind him when his crew are trying to row sneakily into a harbour. And plays him with a West Country accent, which makes his tough-guy lines unintentionally(?) hilarious.
There’s a lot of reference to medieval lore, like the search for the earthly Paradise and a bit where the sailors get themselves a rooster as a method of dealing with a (terrible CGI) basilisk. Doesn’t work, sadly.
They even drag in Norse mythology,shoehorning in a dodgy CGI Jormungandr.
Also, Temuera Morrison continues the downward trajectory by playing the baddie in this movie.
It’s not good by any stretch of the definition, but the first half is a pretty cheery piece of dim pirate adventure. By about 2/3 of the way through, however, it has conclusively worn out its welcome.