It's retro sci-fi action all the way as square-jawed space ace Captain Eager battles to save the universe from the threat posed by his arch-foe, Colonel Regamun.
Retro sci-fi comedy Captain Eager and the Mark of Voth stars James Vaughan stars as the titular Captain Ted Eager, an ageing red-garbed space ace, summoned for a final mission by the galactic corporation, Macrospace. Teaming up with Jenny (Tamsin Greig) and oddball sidekick Scrutty (Mark Heap), Eager finds himself pitted against Colonel Regamun (Richard Leaf), a villainous figure from his own era. The Captain and his cohorts travel the galaxy, as they bid to prevent the nefarious Regamun from using the awesome, mysterious power of Voth to install himself as conqueror of the cosmos.
Written and directed by Simon DaVison, Captain Eager and the Mark of Voth boasts an eponymous figure who bears obvious resemblance to Dan Dare, the 'pilot of the future' showcased in the Eagle comic book. However the purposefully lo-fi production design of DaVison's movie is less in line with Frank Hampson's polished illustrations for that strip and more evocative of the rather more ramshackle British science fiction television and cinema that was around at the same time Eagle was at the height of its popularity, namely the 1950s.
That was an era in which the ingenuity of technicians was expected to mask shortcomings of budget. For example, the famous finale of The Quatermass Experiment found the climatic monstrous infestation of Westminster Abbey being depicted via a glove puppet being manipulated around a photograph of the famed London landmark, and it is this spirit of invention that Captain Eager taps into. DaVison made his film over a period of four years, using CG effects to fill out the star-spanning adventures of his title character, and while Kerry Conran's similarly future-retro Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow is another obvious point of comparison, the galactic scope of Eager actually renders it somewhat closer to a DIY Fifth Element.
Directorial bio: Simon DaVison
I began in the film and TV industry as a composer, doing a lot of documentaries, adverts and, finally, feature films – for example, Blue Juice, starring Catherine Zeta-Jones and Ewan McGregor. I'm in it for about 2 seconds, playing the piano.
But writing and directing seemed much more enticing and, after selling a couple of scripts, I set up Imperious Films to make Captain Eager and the Mark of Voth. I've just completed a spooky drama for the internet – but I have to keep the title a secret!
Describe your film in seven words.
Made by puny Earth slaves in Cardoscope!
Who or what is the biggest influence on your work?
Panvolkian Leader 3.
What is your earliest movie memory?
Attack of the 50-Foot Woman.
Who would you most like to work with?
Orson Welles – Panvolkian Leader 3 is working on him.
Favourite film of all-time?
Being John Malkovich.
Favourite film of the last 12 months?
Kung-Fu Panda [this actually came out in 2008, but we're very happy to let Simon have this one].
What do you want to achieve with your movies?
I wanted to create a unique and unconventional film... and I can say with a clear conviction and a steady gaze that you have never seen a film like Captain Eager and the Mark of Voth.
Where did Captain Eager and the Mark of Voth begin for you?
It began when I was watching a documentary of black-and-white kids TV from the 1950s. It was a live drama with a terribly English, square-chinned hero. He was sitting in front of a curtain holding a steering wheel that was obviously not attached to anything. He was speaking into a cardboard microphone and he was under attack... which you could tell because he kept swaying about on his village hall chair. Then he told us he was dropping a bomb. Cut live to a model boat in a tank being hit by a cardboard bomb and sinking!
CLUNK! On a staggering and beautiful scale. And I just wondered, how would a hopeless wooden dope like that survive in our current, rather smug, version of the future. So the square-chinned pilot became Captain Eager, a hero whose natural environment is lots of cardboard, exposition and things falling over. Clunky and naïve? Yes! But when it comes to duty, honesty and bravery, he's the man!
What was the high point of the experience for you?
One, I loved watching the actors do their stuff. The script was bonkers, but they just gave it everything. Two, writing the music. I'd written scores for other people, but this was my chance to do exactly what I wanted.
What single thing would improve the film industry?
I don't know – it's a big monster that's slowly evolving. I hope the internet revolution will add a little bit of new DNA.
What's the most exciting development in contemporary cinema?
Well, I'm hoping internet distribution!
Complete this sentence: 'My next movie is going to be...'
A musical shot in cardoscope!