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06 August 2012 @ 03:52 pm
Film Review: The Pirates! Band of Misfits  
High seas claymation adventure starring Hugh Grant, Martin Freeman, David Tennant, Imelda Staunton, and Russell Tovey.

Based on the book series by Gideon Defoe, the creators of Wallace & Gromit bring you the adventures of the Pirate Captain (Hugh Grant) and his band of amateur pirates who don't get actual names (everyone gets a descriptive name, e.g. Pirate with Gout, Pirate Who Loves Sunsets and Kittens). The Pirate Captain is beloved by his crew despite not being a very good pirate (he's way too nice and way too incompetent). Still, he dreams of winning the Pirate of the Year Award and in his scheme to do so meets Charles Darwin (David Tennant). Darwin, upon discovering that the ship's parrot is actually the last living dodo bird, convinces the Pirate Captain to bring the dodo to London for a science competition that could fetch the pirate "untold riches." Despite London being the home of pirate-hater Queen Victoria (Imelda Staunton), the Pirate Captain agrees, not realizing Darwin has another agenda up his sleeve.

This is Aardman Animations' 5th feature film and like its predecessors is the perfect family movie: obviously entertaining for small children while adding in enough subtle gags to keep the parents chuckling. As usual, the sheer meticulousness of the claymation details are astounding with the love and craftsmanship being more than apparent. I was also extremely amused by how each character (with the possible exception of the Pirate Captain) was sculpted using the voice actors as the models. I swear I recognized Russell Tovey by his claymation face (and ears!!) before I recognized his voice. Related to this, all the voice actors were uniformly excellent with the script playing to their strengths (e.g. Martin Freeman as the much belabored 2nd in command, Pirate With a Scarf).

This isn't a work of genius but it's a lovely cozy film that you can enjoy with your family. The trailer, which makes this movie look pretty inane, doesn't do it proper justice for all the good acting and rather heartwarming tale.

aelfgyfu_mead: John Watsonaelfgyfu_mead on August 6th, 2012 09:56 pm (UTC)
Woo hoo! We'll have to take Small Child to see it! I mentioned my experience seeing the preview here: I thought I'd had a bit too much Martin Freeman and wondered if I was actually hallucinating his voice. (As if there were such a thing as "too much Martin Freeman.")

Glad to know it's fun and good for kids. We've enjoyed Aardman movies before, but it's good to hear a vote of confidence from a friend. (Yeah, the trailer wasn't actually inspiring.)

Oh. Apparently it has come and gone, at least in our area. Netflix, I guess.

Edited at 2012-08-06 10:01 pm (UTC)
formerly lifeinsomniacjoonscribble on August 6th, 2012 11:55 pm (UTC)
If you liked the previous Aardman films, you'll most likely enjoy this one. The plot and humor of the movie is pretty much the same. And everyone's claymation alter egos are pretty adorable. This may also be the only time Freeman gets to be taller than Tennant.

One thing I realized is that the US release substituted Tovey with Anton Yelchin. Not really sure why. Is he really that much more famous in the States? Or was it an actors union thing for Tovey? Either way, it'll be a bit of a shame if the US DVD has only the Yelchin version. Tovey was very endearing. Plus Albino Pirate looks like him!

Edited at 2012-08-06 11:55 pm (UTC)
aelfgyfu_mead: Annie and Georgeaelfgyfu_mead on August 7th, 2012 12:55 am (UTC)
Aw, crud! So you saw a British version, but I'm liable to see one without Russell Tovey. Not fair! Anton Yelchin is hardly a big star, and Russell certainly has his own following in this country.

Now I have to scheme about how to get a British version. I don't want to buy it, but I also don't want to do an illicit download. Hmph.
formerly lifeinsomniacjoonscribble on August 8th, 2012 12:35 am (UTC)
Perhaps a very cheap copy of the UK DVD will surface?

I saw the British version while in Korea and then inexplicably when I was flying back to America, the plane showed the US version and I was completely taken aback when Yelchin doing a British accent came out of Albino Pirate's mouth.
jsks on August 7th, 2012 11:42 am (UTC)
I want to see the uk version, pout.
formerly lifeinsomniacjoonscribble on August 8th, 2012 12:35 am (UTC)
Cheap DVD copy?