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Having loved Aardman's other work, especially Wallace and Gromit,
Creature Comforts, Chicken Run and Shaun the Sheep, I was much looking
forward to The Pirates! And I found myself loving it. Apart from
sagging slightly in the pace in the middle with a couple of scenes that
could've done with more punch perhaps, it has all the attributes that
made me love Aardman in the first place.
For instance, The Pirates! is a marvellous looking film, you could really tell that a lot of creativity and effort went into it. The colours and backgrounds are plentiful and rich with always something interesting to look at, and the character designs are appealing with the title character reminding of a youthful Wallace with hair and a beard. The 3D is one of the rare instances where it enhances the visuals and action rather than detract from it.
Theodore Shapiro's music is enough to rouse the spirit, and does very well conveying a sense of adventure. The songs featured are fun and memorable. I also loved the crispness and wit of the dialogue managing to appeal to children and adults alike, and the story is exciting with lots of charm and heart. The characters appeal because of their larger-than-life personalities, true the names are on the generic side(Pirate Captain, Pirate with gout) but that was probably the intention. I did enjoy seeing the likes of Charles Darwin and Queen Victoria as well, and they especially Queen Victoria added a lot to the film.
As for the vocal cast, the cast itself was one of the film's main attractions and the voice work is first rate. Hugh Grant shows impeccable comic timing, and Salma Hayak voices Cutlass Liz with lots of sass. Jeremy Piven shows that he can do wonderfully with a character that is strongly-written and provides a good contrast to Grant's Pirate Captain. Brendan Gleeson and Brian Blessed give rousing turns, David Tennant's Charles Darwin charms and Imelda Staunton voices Queen Victoria as if she were born to do it.
Overall, Aardman does it again, a wonderful family film that anybody could enjoy. 9/10 Bethany Cox
Pirates! An Adventure with Scientists or Band of Misfits as it is known
outside the UK for some reason, is the latest stop-motion feature from
Aardman Animations, the studio behind the likes of Wallace and Gromit
and Chicken Run. It is based on the first two novels in the Pirates!
Series by Gideon Defoe.
Set in 1837, the story follows the adventures of a pirate captain called Pirate Captain (Hugh Grant) in his attempts to win the Pirate of the Year competition for the first time. Despite being mostly deluded and incompetent he is actually kind at heart and has the respect of his crew. He is really up against it through when it comes to winning the competition because he is a pretty rubbish pirate and is up against the cream of the piratical world which includes Cutlass Liz (Salma Hayek) and Black Bellamy (Jeremy Piven). While attempting to rob a ship, Pirate Captain has a chance meeting with Charles Darwin (David Tennant) who notices that the ship's parrot, Polly is in fact the world's last Dodo. Darwin, the Captain and his crew travel to London to show the Scientific community their discovery but while there risk bumping into the staunchly anti-pirate, Queen Victoria (Imelda Staunton).
As you'd expect from an Aardman production, the film is full of both subtle and not so subtle humour. One of the first things that made me laugh was the names of Pirate Captain's crew. There is The Pirate with a Scarf (Marin Freeman), so named because he wears a scarf, The Pirate with Gout (Brendan Gleeson) who is fat, the Albino Pirate (Russell Tovey) and the best of them all, the Surprisingly Curvaceous Pirate (Ashley Jensen) who is a woman in a fake beard. They are great names which bought a smile to my face each time they were used. A lot of the humour comes from the book on which the film is based but it is liberally laced with Aardman's trademark subtlety. Every shop sign or wanted poster features a pun and there are nods to the likes of Blackadder. It's the sort of film that will take several viewings in order to see all of the jokes.
The animation is top notch, as it should be. Aardman are the masters of their art and having dabbled in stop-motion animation myself, I understand the time and effort that must go into making a stop-motion feature. Aardman has come a long way from the rough and ready clay models of The Wrong Trousers but the models still maintain their distinctive style and it is obvious that care has been taken during each of the millions of frames.
The voice cast is excellent. Most of the actors are instantly recognisable but David Tennant puts on a convincing accent for his interpretation of Charles Darwin. The actors help to make the scrip very funny and I'm pleased to see that the filmmakers have stuck with a mostly British cast and stayed away from an A-List star.
The soundtrack is enjoyable and uses songs which are not only great but fit the story perfectly. You can expect to hear the likes of The Clash, Flight of the Concords and Blur.
While my girlfriend, most of the adult audience and myself enjoyed the film, the young children in the audience seemed a little bored by it. I don't think there was enough in the film to keep the young children entertained and a lot of the humour was going over their head. It is almost like the film has been pitched at an adult audience, which is fine and worked, but with a U rating and an Easter release, lots of children will go and may be disappointed.
This is not Aardman's best work but it was an enjoyable 88 minutes that featured plenty of laughs and a fairly interesting but in the end throw away plot. I would definitely go back to watch the sequel and will watch it again when it is inevitably shown on TV during a future Christmas period.
Aardman Animations has probably been more consistent than Pixar,
especially of late, yet the stop-motion powerhouse doesn't get half the
attention. "The Pirates! Band of Misfits" didn't buck the box-office
trend, but it proves that even with the most generic of premises,
Aardman knows how to appeal to a diverse audience.
Intent on winning the prestigious Pirate of the Year award, the generically named Pirate Captain (Hugh Grant) scours the ocean in search of treasure with his deeply loyal crew of ham-loving pirates. When famed pirates Black Bellamy (Jeremy Piven) and Cutlass Liz (Salma Hayek) burst his bubble, however, he becomes desperate. After hijacking the boat of scientist Charles Darwin (David Tennant), he discovers his beloved parrot Polly isn't a parrot after all, and could win him the fortune he seeks to make his Pirate of the Year dream come true. But to do so, he'll have to travel to London, where the pirate-hating Queen Victoria (Imelda Staunton) awaits.
If you're looking for a film that epitomizes British humor, "The Pirates" is exactly that. The jokes are silly, clever and come in rapid-fire fashion, many under the radar. Few animated films balance pure slapstick and wit the way this film does, which is a Hallmark of the best family films. "Despicable Me" is the closest recent example. Most films that do both deliver them in segmented fashion, whereas certain scenes are more physical for the kiddies and others smaller moments are for the adults. "The Pirates" can get both demographics laughing at the same time.
That said, "The Pirates" doesn't deliver that many belly laughs for the adults. It prefers being quirky and totally silly and it commits to this style early and often. Characters such as The Albino Pirate (Anton Yelchin) spout the most absurd things out of their mouth, but because writer Gideon Defoe never yields, what could come off as bungling stupidity comes off as funny bungling stupidity.
The film moves at a brisk pace, perhaps because a lot of the traveling by boat happens in 2D animated sequences on a treasure map (though one of the pirate's jobs is to throw red discs out the back of the boat so that red dots show up on the map). The major sequences move quickly into one another, fitting some positive character and theme-building moments in between. The result is a well-structured little film with plenty of big, physical adventure and a decent enough amount of heart.
Nothing about the story is that emotionally moving, though Martin Freeman voicing Pirate Captain's No. 2 man gives it a good go as the only logical or thoughtful character in the entire film who often calls Pirate Captain out on his impulsive and ignorant behavior. Instead, "The Pirates" succeeds largely on its potent sense of danger, anchored by the terrifying Queen Victoria who couldn't have been equipped with a better voice than that of Staunton.
Grant does surprisingly strong and practically unrecognizable voice work as the Pirate Captain, a character both likable and one you can only shake your head at some times. He's the perfect lead for a silly family film such as this. He's heroic and embodies good leadership qualities (hence why his crew adores him), but in child-like fashion he often forgets what's most important, which allows for an easy way for the kids to access the thematic points of the story.
So much of "The Pirates," however, will go over kids' heads, though not in some inappropriate way. Rather, much of what makes the movie so funny is how it plays with pirate genre conventions and film conventions in general, which kids obviously have no concept of. Start to finish, it never ceases to find the clever thing to do or say.
Simply, "The Pirates" will have audiences of all ages grinning from ear to buccaneer.
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Actually easy to watch, if you forgive the pun. More to the point
though, it seems to be fairly difficult to convince an American
audience to watch animation movies that have that weird British humor
in it. Just take the omission of Arthur Christmas as one big example of
this. An omission at the Oscars that is, that is just out of my
understanding and reach. A wonderful family movie (far better than some
of the nominated animated pictures), it didn't get the credit it
Pirates will have a hard time too. Not only the misfits of the story (they'll have to overcome quite some obstacles), but also the movie itself. If you don't mind an animated movie that actually requires you to use your brain while you watch it, then this could be for you.
The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists is the latest film from Aardman animations. It mixes mostly stopmotion with some CGI backgrounds. The film sees The Pirate Captain looking to win Pirate of the Year Award, only problem is him and his band of misfits are the most useless pirates around. After bumping into Charles Darwin, he identifies their 'parrot' as a dodo and promises them riches back in London. Pirates has a very quaint sense of humour, with jokes that elicit gentle chuckles rather than full blown belly laughs. The jokes range from plays on words, to daft sight gags. The animation is typical Aardman and lends itself surprisingly well to the action genre. The vocal work is wonderful with Gleeson and Tovey being particular standouts. I wasn't really impressed by the use of modern songs, as they often seemed very obvious (London Calling) or just out of place (Flight of the Conchords). The story seems a bit mixed in terms of both pacing and plotting, which makes sense as it was based on two books. I would suggest watching the original British version as some actors have had their lines dubbed over, and some of the 'ruder' jokes have been changed.
We haven't seen a full length clay animated Aardman film in a while.
Their recent full length films are CGI. They are not bad though but we
kind of miss seeing their stop-motion animation in the big screen with
characters showing off their teeth and some visible fingerprints on the
models. After six years, their traditional animation returns to cinema
by this movie, The Pirates! Band of Misfits. There isn't much of a
change. It's not as brilliant as their other films but the delight and
excitement are still there.
Happily, the studio still has its greatness. Sadly, there are no "Easter Eggs" from their other films as they usually do. It doesn't quite matter though. At least they recaptured the fun and it has a big heart. The story is just simple but it's quite a ride. The connections with the history is silly but also kind of hilarious. Its ludicrousness already makes a good joke. The voice acting is predictably good. Hugh Grant gives The Pirate Captain a delightful personality. Martin Freeman is just wonderful as his backup. Russell Tovey and David Tennant also lightens the adventure. Imelda Staunton makes a threatening villain in this movie.
Their stop motion animation is always magnificent. They can give these clay models a wonderful personality by their looks and facial expressions. It also has the trademark character design with them showing off their teeth. We know that these are just clay and some other stuff, but even if they are small, it still can make a big and marvelous adventure. Everything is crazy and fun. The jokes are clever. There's hardly anything new about the film but it's still good.
It's just great to see another stop-motion clay animated film from Aardman in the big screen, but this time it's in 3D. The 3D is pretty good, but even in 2D the film is still wonderful to watch. These kinds of family films are rare these days. While kids these days like movies with talking animals and some other mediocre stuff, this one uses the ludicrous elements in a smart way. Like I said, it's not new but it's still an exciting and enjoyable film.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The Pirate Captain is a pirate. But he never actually kills, steals or
Despite how many times they mention sea shanties in the film, they never actually sing one! It feels like they cut out a lot from this, but at an hour and 30 minutes it already drags quite a bit. The third act you see coming a mile away and i just wished it had ended when he first wins the pirate award.
Unfortunately the film was made for 3d. Which means gone are the amazing camera and visuals we've seen in 'the wrong trousers' and 'close shave'. Replaced instead with ... pies to the face and swords pointed to the camera, and even some googley eyes for good measure. The henchmonkey chase is pretty great however.
The pop soundtrack is so uninspired , yes they are going to London, no, you don't need to play 'london calling'. Why do movies feel the need to use songs as exposition.
The other captains looked more interesting. None of the secondary characters had much to do. Cookie-cutter by the numbers plot. Absolutely zero danger or suspense in the whole film until the ending. Some of the dialog was just exposition, very strange, for example "i'm being smashed by barrels of vinegar!".
On the pro side, the animation is fantastic. Some sight gags to chuckle at. Actors and actresses are all great, including the female pirate dressed up as a man. The non-speaking chimp stole the show as soon as he was introduced.
I love pirate films and Aardman Animation, but this just bored me. Maybe it works for young kids?
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This intriguingly titled film comes from Aardman Animation, creators of
Wallace and Gromit. It tells of a Pirate Captain (who goes under the
name of "Pirate Captain") whose ambition has, for years, been to win
the "Pirate Of The Year" title.
I really don't want to say any more than that, for anything else I might say about how the plot unfolds, or events which occur on the way, characters who get involved etc., is likely to spoil some of the very good jokes which unroll throughout the length of this pleasingly daft film (suffice it to say that the exodus at the end was halted on the theatre's stairs as they stood and watched the end credits all the way through - the gags are constant).
Let me say that the animation (which looks to be a combination of claymation and CGI) is good, character and set design is excellent, voice talent is stellar, and - Oh, it's a joy. Go and see it. And the 3D suits it very well, by the way.
Ardman Animations and Sony Pictures Animation have done a absolutely
fantastic job on Pirates.
First off lets talk about this films unique visual style (combining delightfully old school stop motion clay animation with modern CGI) It looks absolutely gorgeous, very similar to chicken run but with a lot more variation in terms of scenery and characters.
I had the pleasure of seeing it in 2D so while i cant comment on the additional effects that 3D would have brought it still looked fantastic, the colors, brightness and cinematography where perfect, no weird HD noise here, absolutely flawless camera work, this is not your average 2D film ,especially if your cinema has Digital 2-4K Projectors, mine did and it looked awesome.
As for the story, well suffice to say it doesn't stray far from the average Aardman stock but there is absolutely nothing wrong with it, the characters stand out much more than they have done in the past and the writing, comedy and bombastic style are very much still intact.
If you want a funny, pretty and interesting movie to keep your kids and you very much entertained for the 2Hours~ it takes to watch this wonderful movie nothing in this would should stop you
5/5 Visuals 5/5 Sound 5/5 Story
= 5/5 Stars overall
SEE THIS MOVIE
What I liked about The Pirates! was how it was whimsical. What I didn't
like what the fact that whimsical was pretty much all this film was.
It's a good film to take the family to, but it doesn't prove to be all
that memorable. It offers merely a few good laughs and a little genre
As a pirate film, it certainly could've used a bit more daring do, to accompany the self mockery and also to compensate for the problem of having surprisingly one dimensional characters. Take a film like last years Rango, which demonstrated an ability to riff on its genre while generating an honest and robust sense of adventure which would categorize a serious Western. This film, lacks that bit of robustness; it's all whim.
For an hour, I thought The Pirates did a good job of appealing to all ages in its humour, but the climactic act takes things sailing in the wrong direction. Suddenly the movie becomes surprising juvenile and childish. In addition to ending somewhat abruptly, The Pirates leaves a few plot elements without a payoff.
The finished product ends up feeling surprisingly shorter than it was, and it all seemed a little light hearted to elevate it beyond the level of weekend entertainment. I love pirates, and I always have, so I felt a little let down, but there's probably enough for a young audience.
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