Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Pirates! Band of Misfits

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

The Pirates!  Band of Misfits - 4 out of 5

I'm a sucker for stop-motion animation.  The dedication, patience and all around majesty that is the process is awe-inspiring to me.  It's comforting to know that even though it seems 3D animation is killing 2D animation, stop-motion still exists thanks to the likes of Coraline, the latest release that is ParaNorman and the UK film The Pirates!  Band of Misfits.

90% sure I once hit on a girl who looked exactly like this...and was rejected too.


Based on the novel series, The Pirates! is about a rag-tag collection of pirates led by The Pirate Captain (Hugh Grant) who's on a mission to become Pirate of the Year (an honor he deems is now due to him by process of elimination) and beat the seemingly better pirates of Peg Leg Hastings (Lenny Henry), Cutlass Liz (Selma Hayek) and Black Bellam (Jeremy Piven--don't eat the fish while on the high seas, Piven...I would hate to see you get mercury poisoning again.)

Who are we to say their love is wrong?


In an effort to not be a laughing stock in the pirate world, The Pirate Captain and his crew--including his insightful second-in-command (Martin Freeman), a naive albino (Anton Yelchin) and the Captain's "big boned" parrot Polly--set out to loot as many ships as they can but come up empty handed until they come across the HMS Beagle and Charles Darwin (voiced by my favorite Doctor, David Tennant) who points out that Polly isn't a parrot at all but the last living dodo bird and, in turn, is Darwin's ticket to fame and the heart of Queen Victoria (Imelda Staunton).

AHHH, A DEMON!!!  Kill it with fire!...oh wait, it's an albino....
AHH, AN ALBINO!!!   Kill it with fire!!!


Directed by Peter Lord (Chicken Run) and released in the UK under the same title as one of the novels, The Pirates! in an Adventure with Scienctists, the film is just plain fun.  The animation looks incredible as the traditional stop-motion claymation is combined with some elements of CG (mostly to create background environments) and the results are spectacular.  The character animations are eerily realistic and when combined with a terrific voice cast (including Brendan Gleeson, Al Roker and Brian Blessed along with the others mentioned), the final product comes off more convincing than a lot of real-life, non-clay and plastic actors--think Jason Statham, Shia LaBeouf, Tom Cruise, John Travolta, Sam Worthington or whatever terrible actor out there who somehow gets roles despite how awful they are (the Nickelbacks of the acting world--you know, somehow successful despite the obvious lack of talent.).

Yep, Oscar worthy performances from hunks of plastic and clay...
and I'm not talking about Pamela Anderson.


And did I mention this movie was funny?  I didn't?  Sorry about that...must be slipping in my old age.  But seriously, this movie is funny and not in a "hey, that guy fell down" kind of way.  While those jokes do have some play, the majority of the included gags are intelligent and contain a razor sharp wit that sliced its way into the funny center of my brain and caused me to bleed...and by bleed, I mean laugh (yes, I know that was an odd, slightly gross, metaphor).  But this wit and intelligence really shouldn't be a surprise because it was produced in the United Kingdom.  I'm not saying they do comedy better but if it was done in America, the movie would have been an hour and a half long joke about the "poop deck."

Uh oh, the demon is getting excited.  Did I say demon again?


The look on his face...he must have visited the
Creationists museum.
Creationists can put their minds at ease because the inclusion of Charles Darwin in this movie isn't going to mean your kid watching this will end up learning about evolution.  No, The Pirates! is just a fun movie with killer animation that tells a great story with a host of entertaining characters who don't even have proper names.  For example, one pirate who is a female in disguise as a man is named The Surprisingly Curvaceous Pirate and if you can get away with having fun characters who's names are just comical descriptions of themselves then you have a winner in my book.  Plus, Flight of the Conchords' "I'm Not Crying" is used in the film's soundtrack and that's awesome in and of itself.

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