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Star Wreck: In The Pirkining
cast: Samuli Torssonen, Atte Joutsen, Timo Vuorensola, and Antti Satama

director: Timo Vuorensola

103 minutes (15) 2005
widescreen ratio 2.35:1
Revolver DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 7/10
reviewed by Ian Sales
Good science fiction films evoke 'sensawunda'. Really good ones can make the viewer's jaw drop from the special effects and visuals. Star Wreck has a similar effect on the viewer, but for an entirely different reason. It is a spoof of Star Trek and Babylon 5. Perhaps it's me, but I find the fact that those series allowed themselves to be parodied in a commercially-available film somewhat astonishing.

But, in fact, Star Wreck has been doing this for several years. In 1992, a group of Finnish 'Trek fans put together a four-minute parody of Star Trek: The Original Series. The film consisted entirely of computer graphics, and they were about equivalent to those of an early computer game. Star Wreck 2: The Old Shit, 3: The Wrath Of The Romuclans, and 4: The Kilpailu followed the same pattern. Each was slightly longer than the last, and the computer graphics were slightly better in execution. The spaceship designs also changed to those of Star Trek: The Next Generation. The humour, however, remained relatively crude - Kirk is Pirk (Samuli Torssonen), Worf is Dwarf (Timo Vuorensola), Data is Info (Antti Satama), Chekov is Fukov (Janos Honkonen), Spock is Spook, and Scotty is Shitty. On reflection, perhaps the Star Wreck names are no dafter than the Star Trek ones. Although I've always marvelled at Trek's propensity to cast actors with weirder names than their characters - DeForest Kelley, Avery Brooks, Nana Visitor, Gates McFadden, Garrett Wang...

With Star Wreck 5: Lost Contact, the filmmakers used a live cast. Themselves... They filmed against blue screen, and all the sets were computer-generated. Since Star Wreck: In the Pirkinning follows on directly from Lost Contact, it's worth watching the earlier film first. In it, the Korg - i.e., the Borg - have been prevented from destroying Earth but have then travelled back in time to prevent Earth's first meeting with the Vulgars - Vulcans - and Pirk and his ship, the CPP Kickstart, have followed them. Pirk, Dwarf and Info are marooned in late 20th century Tampere, Finland, when the Kickstart is destroyed.

Incidentally, the five earlier Star Wrecks are available in re-mastered editions on a single DVD, Star Wreck: Legacy. But they can also be downloaded under a creative commons licence from www.starwreck.com

Star Wreck: In The Pirkinning opens with Pirk, Dwarf and Info having failed to adapt to the present day. Dwarf runs a hot dog stand, and Pirk sits and eats burgers all day. Info, however, decides to do something about the timeline they have wrecked - any similarity in plot to this year's Star Trek reboot is purely coincidental - and persuades the other two it is time to rebuild the Kickstart. This they do with the help of Fukov's many-times distant ancestor, Sergey Fukov, an incompetent nuclear engineer at Chernobyl. With the help of the Russian president (Aki Kaurism´┐Żki favourite, Kari Väänänen), Pirk uses the Vulgar ship to rebuild his own, and many more... These become the rebuilt P-Fleet, which Pirk then uses to subjugate Earth and declare himself emperor.

While on patrol in his own ship, Fukov stumbles across a 'maggot hole', out of which appears a strange spaceship. He destroys it. On learning of the maggot hole, Pirk decides it provides access to further regions for him to conquer. In fact, it leads to an alternate universe where P-Fleet discovers the space station Babel-13. The Star Trek parody and the Babylon 5 parody go to war. Captain Sherrypie (Atte Joutsen) of Babel-13 makes several long interminable speeches, Security Chief Garybrandy (Jari Ahola) spends much of the time drunk, and Commander Ivanovitsa (Satu Heliö) complains about her career. In the epic battle between the two forces, Festerbester (Janos Honkonen again) arrives in the Earth battleship Excavator to save the day. Pirk is forced to return to his own universe. But the trip goes horribly wrong, and he and his crew end up stranded in the last Ice Age.

For all its humble beginnings, Star Wreck: In the Pirkinning is a polished piece of filmmaking. For this DVD release, the computer graphics were redone and the ship designs were completely revamped. The ships now only resemble those of Star Trek and Babylon 5, rather than being direct copies. The humour, however, remains just as crude... Some of this is no doubt lost in translation - especially the mangled vocabulary for the Trek specific items: 'twinklers' for phasers, 'light balls' for photon torpedoes, 'shove' for warp. According to the Wikipedia page, much of the dialogue uses Finnish puns which have not translated well.

It's not just the humour and language which has not entirely translated. Because the film is a direct sequel, following directly on from Lost Contact, the plot is initially difficult to follow. And then there's the reason why the film exists in the first place... It's a fan film and a crude parody. Yet its production values are several orders of magnitude greater than Star Wreck's earlier episodes. If they seemed suited to the material, In the Pirkinning, well, doesn't. It's just a bit too well made to be just a crude parody. Partly this is because the makers are using the DVD to fund an entirely original film, 'Iron Sky', about a Nazi colony on the Moon returning to Earth in 2018, which makes In the Pirkinning something of a puzzle. It's the sort of film which would be much improved by watching it with a bunch of mates while drinking beer and eating pizza. And improved yet further by understanding Finnish. Which is not to say In the Pirkinning is not an impressive achievement; it certainly is one, as the filmmakers have shown they're capable of making a movie with high production values. And given Hollywood's track record on scripts, it seems churlish to complain that Star Wreck is nothing more than a crudely-humorous parody. But I for one could have wished for something with a little more wit.

The Star Wreck: In the Pirkinning Imperial Edition DVD contains two discs. The first is the film; the second is special features - documentaries on the making of the film, deleted scenes, bloopers, extended scenes, etc. It is only when watching these that it becomes truly apparently how cheerfully amateur the filmmakers were. There are, for example, repeated complaints from members of cast and crew that Vuorensola was incapable of appearing on time for filming. Most of the scenes were filmed in either Torssonen's house, or Vuorensola's student apartment, with backgrounds created using CGI. But some were filmed on location - the technology faculty of Tampere University, for instance, stands in for the interior of Babel-13. The special features are certainly comprehensive, although perhaps the insight they provide to the making of In the Pirkinning is not always to the filmmakers' advantage...
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