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Boy and the Pirate / Crystalstone, The

MGM // PG // June 27, 2006
List Price: $19.94 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Ian Jane | posted June 22, 2006 | E-mail the Author
The Movie:

The second Sony distributed Midnite Movies disc also features pirates rather than the genre fare that the line was known for while MGM was calling the shots with it on their own. A lame attempt to cash in on the upcoming Johnny Depp movie? You know it, but regardless the movies should be judged on their own merit, and they both prove to be entertaining, if disposable.

Crystalstone (1988):

A young boy named Pablo and his even younger sister, Maria, have just found out that their parents who left them in the care of aunt will not be coming back for them eve again as they've gone off to that big boat in the sky once and for all. Their aunt, who isn't a particularly nice lady, wants to add insult to injury by separating Pablo from Maria, which would only make things worse for the poor kids, and so they decide that instead of submitting to her crappy plan that they'll leave her home and head out on their own.

Now wandering alone in the streets of their city, they soon meet up with an older man when they hop on a train. To kill some time he tells them the story of the Crystalstone, an Indian treasure that went missing many, many years ago but which holds some pretty cool magical powers. Pablo and Maria fall asleep but when they wake up, the old man is gone, the only thing left in his place is a cross which they soon discover is an integral part of the Crystalstone mystery they decide to investigate.

In the next village they find themselves in, completely by chance they happen to witness the murder of a shopkeeper by a one armed pirate who substitutes for the loss of his hand by using a hook. He sees them and starts to chase them but they manage to escape. When a local ship's captain with a penchant for booze is accused of the murder, the kids clear his name and the three of them team up to bring the evil pirate to justice and to find the Crystalstone.

With an interesting cast and some very nice Spanish locations, Crystalstone is a better than average kids movie, even if it is pretty predictable. Despite Sony's cover art and marketing the film really doesn't have a whole heck of a lot to do with swashbuckling or sea faring and the only pirate is the hook handed bad guy, but never the less it's an amusing story with enough charm to make it worth a watch. A few interesting performers show up in the film, most notably Sydney Bromley who showed up in more than a couple of Hammer Studios' productions in the sixties, which adds some class to the movie.

The biggest flaw is that the movie has very little suspense. There are a couple of eerie moments like when the kids find themselves in a cemetery but that's not really enough when we know where it's all heading before the characters in the movie itself do. The end result is a movie that's mired by predictability. Regardless, though this is not a classic by any stretch it is a decent hour and a half's worth of entertainment.

The Boy And The Pirate (1960):

Jimmy Warren spends his days dreaming of being a pirate. Though his parents want him to bone up on his house chores, he instead prefers to hang out on the beach, wandering up and down in the surf and pretending he's a buccaneer. During one of his walks, what should Jimmy find but a bottle washed up on shore, and what should be in this bottle? A genie! Jimmy lets the bottle out and he gets a wish fulfilled in return and before you know it, Jimmy's been whisked back in time to the 1800s where pirates are real.

This all comes with a catch, however. The genie tells Jimmy that if he doesn't return the bottle to the very same place he found it in seventy two hours, he'll find himself taking the genie's place, trapped in the bottle for all time. While this might not be a big deal for modern day Jimmy, old school Jimmy is being forced to clean the decks of the boat that Blackbeard is commanding and soon he starts to wonder if maybe he didn't have it so bad back with mom and dad after all.

With pirate life starting to suck more and more, Jimmy realizes that he'd better get back to land and get the bottle taken care of so that he can get back to the modern day and get back to his regular life. Blackbeard isn't necessarily heading in that direction, in fact, he's heading out to the ocean but Jimmy's got a plan to make the ship turn around and get him back to where he needs to be before it's too late.

Charles Herbert is pretty decent for a child actor in the lead role of Jimmy and seeing Murvyn Vye (who starred alongside Boris Karloff in Voodoo Island) hamming it up as Blackbeard works well too, but this movie suffers from the same problem as the first disc in the set – it's pretty predictable. Again, there are some nice sets here and the pirate ship itself is pretty neat, you can see why a young boy would easily become enchanted with it, but the lack of suspense and the fact that we know from the start that there's no way Jimmy is going to be left in the past to slave away on a pirate boat for the rest of his life or spend the rest of his life trapped in a bottle kind of takes some of the fun out of the movie.

That being said, as a jaded adult maybe it's easy to dismiss this movie as it was intended for a children's audience. Younger kids should probably enjoy this one, as Bert Gordon's direction keeps things clicking along at a quick pace and some of the humor is pretty funny. There's enough family oriented action and adventure in the film that even those with short attention spans can have fun with this one. It isn't high art but it's a fun little popcorn movie from a man best known for his horror movies such as Food Of The Gods and Earth Versus The Spider. The film is slightly more violent than you might expect, as Blackbeard and his crew are a rough and tumble bunch, but even with a wee bit of bloodshed, the film should find a decent audience with kids.


Crystalstone is presented in a nice 1.85.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that's been re-mastered in high definition, while The Boy And The Pirates makes its DVD debut in a 1.66.1 non-anamorphic transfer. Both movies look quite good here, with nice color reproduction and strong, deep black levels. Some aliasing is present on both pictures as is some light edge enhancement but nothing so overpowering as to ruin the look. The visuals aren't going to win any awards but they certainly look as good if not better than most people will probably have expected and aside from the lack of anamorphic enhancement on The Boy And The Pirates there's little to complain about.


Both films are presented in Dolby Digital Mono with optional subtitles available in English for Crystalstone and in English, Spanish, Portuguese and Japanese for The Boy and The Pirates. There is slight hiss here and there but it isn't too distracting and aside from the occasional pop, these are nice, clean tracks. One thing worth noting however is that the levels on these discs seemed a little bit low, though this was easily fixed by turning the volume up a bit to compensate for that. Most of the time dialogue comes through well enough and sound effects and background music, some of which is appropriately epic and sweeping, seem to be balanced appropriately.


When you plop either of these discs into your player you'll hit a menu screen that asks you to choose what language you want for the film. From there, the movie starts, that's it. Nothing else. No trailers, not proper menu with chapter selection (the film is divided into chapters but you can only change them by way of the remote buttons, not through the menu itself), no supplements at all. Disappointing, to say the least…

Final Thoughts:

Neither of these movies are going to blow you away but they do make for decent family entertainment and can be enjoyed by kids of all ages. The decision to release these under the Midnite Movies banner is still a little baffling but regardless, you could do a lot worse than spending some time with Crystalstone and The Boy And The Pirates and the release makes for a worthy rental.

Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.

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