Son of Blackbeard

Son Of Blackbeard starts with Blackbeard (Mark Pricskett) aiming his flintlock pistol at a young couple walking along the beach. As the notorious pirate prepares to rob them, he hears a voice calling out to him. Looking out to the sea, Blackbeard sees Son of Blackbeard (Thomas Foy), asking what kind of pizza they should order. Blackbeard’s victims escape, and this leaves the pillaging buccaneer extremely dismayed.

In a sailing themed bar, Blackbeard laments to his two pirate mates about how he feels Son of Blackbeard is not pulling his weight and just coasts by on his father’s legacy. As if proving his point, after Blackbeard sets sails to commit more piracy, Son of Blackbeard throws a massive party at their mansion, which he DJs. However, Blackbeard’s ship sinks, so he returns early. The party angers Blackbeard, so he hatches a plan to teach his offspring, who is probably in his early 20s, a lesson he might not live through.

I’m going to be upfront here- I don’t get this movie at all. Written, directed, produced, and edited by Thomas Verdi, Son Of Blackbeard is made with love. But this lighthearted affair contains only one joke and so many unanswered questions.

To begin with, how did Blackbeard come to modern times? This wouldn’t be an issue if he understood society nowadays and operated accordingly, but he does not. The opening scene proves this, as Edward Teach still dresses like it is 1717 and uses weapons and tools from that era. Admittedly, the reveal of Son of Blackbeard on a yacht, using a cell phone to call for pizza is funny. So, Blackbeard was magically zapped to nowadays? Or is he long-lived; possibly immortal? No matter happens, given Blackbeard’s cadence and dress, the audience will always be questioning how he got here. Not addressing it is just proves a distraction, as that question lingers in the back of the viewer’s mind.

“…Blackbeard…hatches a plan to teach his offspring…a lesson he might not live through.”

The second scene of the movie takes place in a bar. For reasons that are beyond comprehension, Verdi shoots it in a medium shot but from an angle, so the only thing visible is Blackbeard and his pirate cohorts (who I am not sure even had names), a dock rope draped across a window, and of course, the wooden table and benches the three are sitting on. Then Son of Blackbeard enters the scene and the camera dollies back to reveal a modern bar with a sailor-esque setting.

The problem is that the audience already knows the time and setting of this short film. The first sequence involves a cellphone, pizza, and a motorized yacht. Therefore, the shot composition seems to suggest that the director thinks that the audience is dumb, prone to instant bouts of forgetfulness, or he forgot the opening of his movie. The bigger crime here is that this is the one joke Son Of Blackbeard has, and it will repeat it over and over. Ohh, Blackbeard is in modern times yet still talks and acts like he is in the 18th century. It is a thin premise to hang everything off of, and it becomes stale mere moments into the grueling 15-minute runtime.

Somehow, Blackbeard’s reaction to the soiree thrown by Son of Blackbeard makes even less sense. Pirates are known, at least in pop culture, for their wild debauchery and heavy drinking; as to whether that is accurate or not is a different story. If Blackbeard is annoyed at Son of Blackbeard for being not a true pirate, isn’t a party one of the most pirate-like things Son of Blackbeard could do?

For that matter, the movie does not show the audience any evidence of Son of Blackbeard being such a disappointment, as his father says. Our introduction to the titular character is him ordering a pizza for himself, his friends on the boat, and Blackbeard. At the bare minimum, such an act showcases a certain level of caring and thoughtfulness. Then what does he do? He throws a party, which again, is something a pirate should love.

“…lighting and blocking here look epic and add a sense of swagger that is appropriate to the legend…”

The next story issue does require spoiling the ending. Suffice it to say it involves the father/son dynamic. Whatever sort of sweet message the end is, maybe, perhaps, going for is then promptly squandered on the dumbest thing in the entire movie. The whole film does not build towards two contentious family members reconciling; instead, a lame punchline. I hated the story, its structure, and how it does not explain a single damn thing, quite a bit. So much so in fact, that Son Of Blackbeard might be one of the dumbest written films I have watched all year.

The kicker to the underwhelming screenplay and non-existent characterizations is that the other technical aspects of the film are excellent. Mark Pricskett and Thomas Foy are appealing and energetic as father and son, respectively.

For all his faults as a writer, which are numerous, Verdi is a good director. The camera follows Blackbeard, from behind, walking into his house during the party, as he asks random folks where his son is. The lighting and blocking here look epic and add a sense of swagger that is appropriate to the legend of the movie’s main characters.

The directing adds grandeur and atmosphere, and the two leads give it their all. I am just not sure anyone could save Son Of Blackbeard, using the screenplay as currently written. Due to the plot holes and poor character arcs, it seems as if no thought was put into the story structure or the way the characters interact.

Son Of Blackbeard (2018) Directed by Thomas Verdi. Written by Thomas Verdi. Starring Thomas Foy, Mark Pricskett, Alexa Marie Santy, Kalyani Singh, Lance Channing, Franky Tarantino.

2 Eyepatches (out of 10)

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