The Pirates! Band of Misfits
Out Now On-Demand
It's a plunderful life.
From Aardman Studios (Wallace and Gromit), a stop-frame animated pirate adventure-comedy featuring the voice talent of Hugh Grant, Jeremy Piven, Martin Freeman and Salma Hayek.
This is the high sea tales of a hapless band of pirates, lead by the incompetent Pirate Captain (Grant). Captain and his crew battle Black Bellamy (Piven) and Cutlass Liz (Hayek) in the fearsome 'Pirate of the Year' competition. On route, the met a young Charles Darwin (David Tennant) and battle Queen Victoria (Imelda Staunton).
Based on the first two The Pirates! books - In an Adventure with Scientists and In an Adventure with Whaling - in the cult series by Gideon Defore (who also wrote the screenplay).
- Gideon Defoe (based on his books by Gideon Defore)
Aardman Animation, Sony Animation
Adventure, Animated, Comedy, Kids & Family
Second only to Pixar in the consistent quality stakes, Aardman's latest animated adventure is another entertaining romp for the whole family. From the cartography-inspired credits to the coin-op canons, Pirates' attention to detail and determination to give the audience a rollicking good time is worthy of acclaim.
The company's distinctive British and absurdist humour abounds with a pirate-hating Queen Victoria, the Elephant Man and Charles Darwin (who believes the main purpose of airships is for looking down ladies' tops) all coming in for a satiric skewering, while the action never lets up, with inventive fights (often involving fish and crustaceans as weapons) seguing into pyrotechnic backed bouts of piracy (the explosive properties of baking soda and vinegar are a recurring theme).
Amongst a terrific cast of voice actors, Grant's vain Pirate Captain (the current holder of the award for best anecdote about a squid) stands out, although he is almost upstaged by a monkey with cue cards.
Aardman's seamless visuals are matched by one of the most spot-on soundtracks of the year, with everyone from The Clash to The Flight of the Conchords and Strauss to Supergrass featuring. Although billed by the Pirates themselves as their "most educational adventure ever", most entertaining would be more accurate - this is a film likely to be most appreciated by those who think that the discovery of a dodo "makes electricity look like a load of crap".
Little White Lies (UK)
Total Film (UK)
Disappointing from Aardman
Technically brilliant, the models are beautiful, the sets are stunning, the depth and detail is staggering ... but, all the jokes are crammed in to the two minute trailer, the story is poor, the pacing is sluggish and the characters are uninteresting. I'm a big Aardman fan and this is sadly nowhere near as clever as Wallace & Gromit or as funny as Chicken Run. The first time I have ever fallen asleep in a cinema. Disappointing.
Still, at least these plasticene pirates were more animated than the inanely awful Pirates of the Caribbean characters.