Captain Eager (film, 2008)

I didn’t enjoy bashing this homegrown effort, but it needed bashing. From Death Ray 12.



Director: Simon DaVison

Writer: Simon DaVison

Starring: Tamsin Grieg, James Vaughan, Mark Heap, Richard Leaf

 Brave, if doomed attempt by amateur homegrown talent to run before they can walk.

This job has perks. Free books, free booze and a relaxed office attitude to the kind of banter that would get you drummed out of any other company (and possibly arrested). There are, of course drawbacks. One of those is reviewing films by independent filmmakers. It’s not because they are rubbish, because some of them aren’t.

No, it’s a drawback because on these pages they are stood against movies produced by a well-funded and deeply cynical film industry. Even the very worst professional film is going to wee on a semi-pro affair. Pointing that fact out is like kicking down the sandcastles of toddlers.

Sadly, I am forced to put on my heaviest boots, and head for the beach once again.

Captain Eager is admirable in respects. It is full of love, and manages visually to pull off a purposefully silly world. The small budget has been well spent, they got some good talent. But, you know, blah blah.

It is also disjointed, and badly directed, paced, and written. It is a film that sucks the will to live right out of you. Every actor pauses for an age between lines, every line is weakly formulated. It takes aeons to get going, and when it does it is not so much the pastiche of bad SF intended, but just bad. There’s a world of difference between evoking something and reproducing it, this one unwisely plumps (sort of half-heartedly) for the latter.

Like so many one-man dream projects, Eager suffers from a clash of intent. It tries three things at once, as they are not compatible, you feel you are watching three subtly different films. So confused is it that the script introduces a robot “Expositionite”. This “joke” is a huge mistake – the story should have been streamlined – but not as big a mistake as also explaining things we can quite plainly see.

It’s infuriating, because Captain Eager comes a lot closer than some, and with a less maudlin story, tighter editing and direction, the ditching of some ideas, and – dammit – more laughs, this would be worth an hour and a half of anyone’s time. As it is, it is a ponderous, self-important slog. Oh, and its on-screen text is riddled with grammatical errors. Congratulations to those involved, good luck, but this is not your ticket to the big time.

Did you know?

Captain Eager is very much inspired by Eagle comic – Eager’s basically Dan Dare. The film simultaneously attempts an old-fashioned Darian morality romp, a comedy version of the same, and a comment on changing times and loss. It tries to put all these things at the fore all at once. A film simply about an old hero coming out of retirement, with the rest as subtext, would have worked so much better.


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