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May 19, 2012


Capsule Movie Review – The Pirates! Band of Misfits (2012)


A new film by Aardman Animations (Wallace and Gromit, Chicken Run) sells itself to their many fans. For The Pirates! Band of Misfits, based on a children’s book series, they bring their signature stop-motion claymation to a jolly tale of adventure on the high seas. The visuals are as delightful as ever and the characters as sweetly lovable. If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like if Gromit could talk, then this is your movie; there’s a strong and distinct temperamental likeness between Pirate Captain and his loyal first mate and Wallace and his trusty pal. Hugh Grant reveals a hidden talent for voice work as the captain. Martin Freeman as the mate, Imelda Staunton as Queen Victoria, and David Tennant as Charles Darwin round out the principal cast- with the cheeky comedic invention of the movie’s Victoria and Charles a big part of the fun. (Salma Hayek, Jeremy Piven, Lenny Henry, Brendan Gleeson, and Brian Blessed are funny in colorful bit parts.) Atypically for the studio, the script is peppered with contemporary pop culture references. While it doesn’t have the timeless quality of other Aardman works, it’s a winning romp nonetheless.

3 stars

One thing I liked and one thing I didn’t like: My favorite scene was the captain on stage at the science competition. For a bunch of pirates they sure spend a lot of time on land.

4 Comments Post a comment
  1. May 19 2012

    It’s truly an entertaining film but I feel that two things in specific are fully responsible for the film not being awesome: 1) the pop culture references; they usually suck in family oriented films. And 2) the way in which the film feels episodic. It felt like its takes 4 or 5 episodes from a preexisting TV show and plastered them, one after another. But the film still works because it has a good story that develops throughout, the voice work is excellent throughout, and this is the most detailed animated film that I have ever seen. Coraline and Arrietty have nothing on this film in regards to visual detail.

    I definitely want to revisit the film once its on video just for all of the stuff that can be seen in every nook and cranny. In one shot that took place inside a ship, there is a poster on the back of a wall and I only managed to read a couple of lines from it. One of them said: “no loading pigs into the cannons”. lol

    It’s a fun film and it’s remarkably impressive on technical and aesthetic levels.

  2. May 19 2012

    Don’t forget Polly. No pirate captain is complete without a feathered friend perched on his shoulder.

  3. May 19 2012

    @Nir: I agree, you’d need to see it at least twice to catch all the visual asides. I wasn’t crazy about the action climax either but it’s a good time at the pictures.

    @Doc: Indeed. Oh please, oh please can’t Polly come out now?

  4. May 20 2012

    @Helen and Doc in regards to Polly, the best line in the film came during the science competition, “Wow, they have a ________! It makes electricity look like crap!”

    It may be a remarkably episodic film but it, mysteriously took itself seriously and I kind of respect that.