This Australian feature film was infamous at the time for its light-hearted treading of the same territory as its big brother, Raiders of the Lost Ark. Similarly, there is an approach to the musical scoring that imitates matinee-style heroics and adventures. Brian May, already famous for his Mad Max and The Road Warrior (aka. Mad Max 2) scores, was the instant choice to bring energy and tension to this big-budget mystery adventure.
There's a side of Brian May that can be heard in this score that is only heard occasionally in his many other scores. Typecast writing music for small horror thrillers, those features rarely allowed him the extravagance and flamboyance he shows in Sky Pirates ultilizing a 62-piece orchestra, which for an Australian film was considered enormous. Full of chases, fights, and bombast, and occasional references to other scores, even then Brian May can find the appropriate time for the mystical sounds of a track like "Sea of Lost Ships".
Mystery is at the film's heart, as the search is undertaken for a broken ancient stone tablet which when restored into one piece has the key to all earthly power and knowledge. Leonard Maltin fairly accurately describes the film as "Yet another RAIDERS-INDIANA JONES variation, about an aircraft that crashes through a time warp, a search for a special stone, and other assorted nonsense. Boring and confusing, but Hargreaves earns an A for effort." The other person that deserves an A for effort is Brian May.
- Philip Powers
Review on MSN:
Jason Ankeny, All Music Guide
A far cry from the post-apocalyptic sprawl of Brian May's work on the Mad Max trilogy, 1984's Sky Pirates delivers rousing, widescreen action themes in the classic cliffhanger tradition. While plainly inspired by John Williams' era-defining scores for the Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark series, the music nevertheless boasts an energy all its own, marshaling blaring brass and shrieking strings to generate uncommon suspense. May proves a master of pacing, ratcheting the thrills with precision. Sweeping actions themes like "The Great Plane Robbery" and "To Easter Island" are sharply contrast against quietly tantalizing cues like "Sea of Lost Ships," but even the more elegiac moments boast a larger-than-life scale perfectly attuned to the onscreen adventure. ~ Jason Ankeny, All Music Guide
Quote from Intrada:
"Nice to see the topic thriving. Still, if you keep my criteria in mind the names Brian May and John Morris don't really fit in. While they have some solid work that remains obscure, both have had a significant number of scores released. In the case of May, long-available scores like MAD MAX and THE ROAD WARRIOR certainly elevated his profile. We even released a CD to his "classic" DR. GIGGLES. And the 1M1 label from Australia issued many of his CDs: SKY PIRATES, THIRST, ROAD GAMES and PATRICK to name a few. John Morris had his share of LPs (and a few CDs) as well: BLAZING SADDLES, HIGH ANXIETY, YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, SILENT MOVIES, ELEPHANT MAN, SCARLETT, several others. I was looking at names we may know only from seeing various projects in question since recordings in any format were very far and very few between."