The Pirates! Band of Misfits (2012) Poster

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British humor for the whole family
Movie_Muse_Reviews4 December 2012
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.

~Steven C

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Far from Aardman's best, but still a very funny film.
tgooderson29 March 2012
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.
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A rousing triumph from Aardman
TheLittleSongbird28 March 2012
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
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The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists (2012)
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.
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Aardman to watch
kosmasp31 May 2012
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 deserved.

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.
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Traditional Aardman Returns
billygoat107120 May 2012
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.
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A Delightful Aardman departure from Wallace and Gromit
miruleyall23 April 2012
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

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Not perfect but it at least made me laugh.
Boba_Fett113827 April 2012
The main reason why lots of people will still end up feeling disappointed with this movie is because it's not up to par with Aardman's other work, such as the Wallace & Gromit series and "Chicken Run". But really, the movie in itself is far from a terrible one, though it still definitely has its weaknesses.

Good news is that the movie still features some of the very typical Peter Lord and Nick Park humor in it (though Nick Park wasn't involved with this particular movie). It features lots of very quick and clever visual jokes and some often great and funny dialog, all done in a very British style. And that's also a joke this entire movie relies heavily one; the fact that the pirates in this movie are all being very British, with their mannerisms and accents. This was something that I appreciated but I still did wish that the movie would had done some more stuff with it all.

For a pirates movie, that besides is also made for a younger audience, the story doesn't really ever feel adventurous enough. It doesn't take you to far off or exotic places and the action, which is something I normally really love in Aardman's movies, is mostly missing in this movie. Not that the movie is boring or anything, it's too short and fast paced for that but it still is all a bit lacking and prevents this movie from ever truly becoming a great one.

There just isn't really anything that stands out about this movie at all. Also its characters are being somewhat shallow and you just don't ever feel involved enough with them, or the overall movie. Some of the characters besides get terribly underused and the movie also really could had used a good, fun, strong villain in it.

But oh well, most important thing is that I at least was entertained by it, for almost its entire duration and the movie genuinely made me laugh. In that regard you simply just can't call this movie a bad one, even though it's being sort of disappointing still, in some departments.

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Aardman at its finest,
lesleyharris304 April 2012
The Pirates! Band of Misfits is a terrific movie with a very well developed storyline and a stellar voice cast. It's a very enjoyable film for the whole family, the animation is stunning, seeing Aardman with their first claymation movie since Wallace & Gromit, they've had great success with work such as Arthur Christmas and Flushed Away, but the computer animation takes away from the magic of these movies, thankfully the characters are entirely made from clay here, with an outstanding voice cast to match, including Hugh Grant in one of my favourite roles he's ever had. One thing I think the movie is really lacking is depth, there isn't enough of a relationship evident between The Pirate Captain and his crew, particularly Number 2, I felt a friendship between these characters should have been shown, it would have added an extra layer to the pirates that I think definitely could have worked. It's a very funny movie, it had me in stitches many times, whether it be some of the ridiculous jokes about Charles Darwin, the female pirate, or a joke about leprosy, it has enough humour that will please both kids and adults, more so than any other Aardman movie I feel, particularly the main character will probably speak to an older audience more so than children. Beautifully animated, a fantastic voice cast and very likable characters, I would recommend The Pirates! Band of Misfits to anyone looking for a good family film.

The Pirate Captain sets out to defeat his rivals for the Pirate of the Year award.
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Boring, dull, dull, dull, lacking humor. Not like Wallace and Gromit at all!
secrective1 May 2012
Warning: Spoilers
The Pirate Captain is a pirate. But he never actually kills, steals or plunders.

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?
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It was okay, I expected more
Samiam327 April 2012
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 satire.

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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An absolute hoot from start to finish
neil-47630 March 2012
Warning: 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.
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The Pirates! Band of Misfits is a pretty funny British animated movie to me
tavm5 May 2012
Just watched this movie for free with my movie theatre-working friend at the place where he works. I liked the dry British humor throughout while it took a while for my friend to laugh at certain places. He did recognize the theme used for 2001: A Space Odyssey as also that for wrestling events as he's a big wrestling fan so that was one part he enjoyed. Like I said, the British humor was pretty dry and since we watched on a morning with few people in the audience, I only heard myself laughing most of the time. But I'm sure if the seats were full, the last sequence would have probably gotten a big laugh, I'm sure. So on that note, I highly recommend the stop-motion movie The Pirates! Band of Misfits especially in 3-D which is how we saw it.
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Better as a story book with pictures
PipAndSqueak30 March 2012
There is nothing to beat the Aardmans' animation and this outing for a cast of colourful characters is no different. Musical choices are oddly tied to the play-on-words that dogs the story arc however. The story does not work as a film. It might work as a read-to-child picture story book as a lot of the humour is actually of a word-play type. You need to be a competent reader to see the signs, and if you're a child the film will have moved on before you've caught up with the background clues. 3D is applied very unevenly and adds nothing visually - in fact, just showing the lack of engagement with the characters that occurs. Its a shame that the choice of actor voices means that this feels like a derivative film - Martin Freeman reprising his The Office role but on a pirate ship, for example. I wanted to like this film far more than I actually did and this is all down to the story arc failing to create and work up any tension. It would have been far better not to have allowed the Pirate Captain to know that he was grossly incompetent right from the start, and surely something funnier could have been done with the 'strangely shapely' pirate? Loved the docile-cat-like Dodo though!
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The Pirates! is a top notch slapstick adventure that anyone can enjoy
PopcornDave3 April 2012
With the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise seemingly drifting rudderless (ho ho) for at least the last two films, it's about time someone came along to remind us why we all fell in love with pirates in the first place. It seems that "someone" is Aardman Animations of all people, whose awkwardly-titled new film The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists! has just hit cinemas across the UK. While it's not quite on the level of Chicken Run (Aardman's best theatrical work) you'll be happy to hear that this is an energetic, fast-paced comedy that almost everyone will enjoy. The film tells the wonderfully silly story about a bunch of lovably incompetent pirates teaming up with a young Charles Darwin (yes, you read that right) to make a ton of gold and win the Pirate of the Year Awards and become the most feared buccaneers in all seven seas.

Hugh Grant is just fantastic as the Pirate Captain (yes, that's his character's name). Some audience members might be worried about him playing "H-H-Hugh G-G-errr-G-Grant, the charming, uh, nervous upper middle class p-p-pirate" but worry not. Grant throws himself into the role with gusto, and free of the constraints of his rom-com persona, he's just as enthusiastic and fun as you'd expect (and want) a pirate captain to be. His showmanship and overconfidence make the character a riot the whole way through (my favourite bit is at the scientists' convention). Martin Freeman (as "Number Two") and David Tennant (as Charles Darwin) put in great supporting performances, both providing a great balance to the Pirate Captain's arrogance and bravado, and the rest of the crew are all great fun even if they have less screen time. Finally Imelda Staunton is clearly having a great time as none other than Queen Victoria, and I won't even say who plays the Pirate King because it's just too damn perfect.

None of these characters are especially deep or interesting, but they're likable and funny and in this kind of film, that's all you need. Like the first Shrek film or the golden age of The Simpsons, The Pirates! is just packed with laughs, getting more good gags into 85 minutes than most sitcoms manage in a year. If you're a fan of Aardman's very-British-yet-utterly-accessible style of humour you'll barely have time to breathe between laughs. The pacing is lightning fast without ever feeling rushed, which is typical of Aardman's work, and its constant forward momentum is will keep most viewers hooked throughout its short running time.

Stop motion animation has never looked better either, with character movements being every bit as lively and fluid as they are in any Pixar film. In particular, Charles Darwin's nervousness is brilliantly conveyed with facial expressions and mannerisms that are more detailed and convincing than you'd even think possible for an animated character. Of course, being an Aardman film, there are a few slapstick action scenes thrown in, and a chase through Darwin's house is a work of such beautifully choreographed chaos that it might be straight out of classic Tom & Jerry, and is probably the best bit of action the studio has done since The Wrong Trousers's legendary model train scene. I'm not sure the 3D really adds very much, but either way it's a spectacular film to look at and even though it's "just" a comedy it's well worth seeing on the biggest screen you can.

If I have to criticise the film at all, I would say it lacks the emotional resonance of Chicken Run, and while Pirate Captain is certainly fun to watch and you do feel sorry for him for being so hopeless, audiences won't really connect with him as protagonist the same way they did with the hens in that film. In Chicken Run you really want Ginger and her gang to escape, and that gave the film the added emotional weight that marks a truly great family film.In addition, while Queen Victoria is a great villainness she's nowhere near as terrifying as Mrs Tweedy. Compared to the latter, The Pirates! is just a rip-roaring slapstick adventure. And that's fine, really, because the fast pace and great jokes are enough to carry the day.

I can heartily (har har) recommend The Pirates! if you want a damn funny time at the cinema. I expect that it will stand up well to repeat viewings, as there are so many clever background jokes that you'll never catch them all the first time through (take a look at the entry form for the "Pirate of the Year Awards" in the brief few seconds it's on screen). It's not quite the studio's best film, but it's still the work of a bunch of talented people at the top of their game, and is almost certainly one of the funniest films you'll see all year.
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Aardman you've done it again
gordon-duncansby28 March 2012
I've been looking forward to this movie for ages and I was not let down by them. The animation was great and the script was really funny. Had a great cast Hugh Grant (good that he's doing something again), David Tennant was great playing Charles Darwin, Brain Blessed, Martin Freeman the list goes on and on. I loved the soundtrack it had songs by The Clash and Flight of the Conchords. At some bits you just thought of Chicken Run and Wallace and Gromit if you watch it you'll see what I mean. I was reading a lot of reviews and they were saying the 3d wasn't very good and made it a lot darker. Which it didn't I say the 3d helped it to be honest. To sum up this film it's really funny got great cast and a few bits that are a little sad but overall fantastic. I will not be happy if this movie flopped! Go and see it now!
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Not as Funny as Promised
NRGDude8 May 2012
Warning: Spoilers
(Location spoilers)

Sadly, it was very boring watching this movie. Unlike Chicken Run, the humor was not very broad, the jokes were not very funny (or even that original), and the characters very two-dimensional. Even Hugh Grant didn't have his usual dry take on humor resulting in a captain with no charisma. Toward the end, you didn't care if he won Pirate of the Year or not. And some of the other characters seemed one-note and got very tiring after 30 or 40 minutes. I noticed a few laughs in the first half, even by me, but the theater was totally quiet during the second half even though it contained about 50 people including kids!

The oddest thing was that this "pirate" movie spent most of its time onshore rather than offshore. And a great deal of that time was in London, not the Caribbean. While the 3D effects were very good, they were not enough to hold the movie together.

It was not at all as good as the (so-called) movie critics described. I guess they were in a different theater.
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A bit disappointing
rebecca-ry14 September 2012
I've always loved Aardman films especially Wallace & Gromit but this has let the reputation of Aardman down.

The film is more average than good. The story is standard but can be a bit funny sometimes. The characters are all interesting enough but it still doesn't work as well as expected. For children I think this film will be received well; it's a decent enough film for kids but the thing that makes Aardman films really excellent is that it can make both children and their parents laugh, this does not do that.

The animation is, as always, fantastic. A lot of work has clearly went into this but I wonder if they have used different animators from other films because at some points the characters looked more like something out of a Tim Burton picture or from the makers of 'Coraline'.

It's difficult to comment on the performances in this because it's voice performances. However, all of them do very well and have sometimes adapted their voices to suit the characters perfectly especially Hugh Grant and David Tennant.

Overall, kids will love this film but it's disappointed me slightly simply because my expectations were based on previous Aardman productions. Hopefully their next will improve from this.
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Makes other aardman movies look like complete pants!
jcs_stanley6 April 2012
In my eyes even the mighty "Wallace and Gromit" and all those Gothic stop-moes from Burton and what have you are just a single inch away from what "The Pirates" has been able to accomplish.

It's just an imaginative comic thrill-ride from start to finish. Obviously it won't be as thrilling as let say umm... a Marvel or Transformer film but still thrilling on a family level. What amazes me is the kind of boundaries that have been pushed since "Curse of the Were-Rabbit" not just in visuals but also in tone. The overall film contains mild swearing, a little more risqué elements than what W+G Would normally allow and a several wacky Historic Anachronisms which help the daft and buffoonish tone of the film move smoothly along the seven seas out to go try a plunder the box-office if it can get passed the healthy competition e.g. The deadly, all money consuming "Hunger Games" sea monster for example (I enjoyed that too).

Of course underneath all that tomfoolery and cut-throatiness a warm and eager heart beats underneath the beard providing us with the same care and emotional connection with the characters who by the way are one of the most well put together and recognisable of animated casts I've ever witnessed since "Kung fu Panda". Hugh Gant makes a terrific, bumbling Pirate Captain whose performance is held up high by the Portrayers of his crew (Particularly that of Martain Freeman and the rest of them) Even supporter Charles Darwin (David Tennet) gets his fair share of scenes. And I'll salute anyone who sneaks the Elephant man into an animated movie. Who says it's just for kids?! Not me!
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Claymation is fine, but story is hampered by unnecessary 3D technology
gregeichelberger21 April 2012
Warning: Spoilers
There is certainly something to be said for the wonderful claymation and quirky British comedy of "The Pirates! Band Of Misfits," the by-product of such other animated films as "Flushed Away," "Chicken Run" and the "Wallace and Gromit" series (and even going back to the days of "Gumby" and "Davy and Goliath").

I have always appreciated this technique because it shows that the old-style way of making this type of movie is still popular, and everything has not been swamped by green screens and computer-enhancement.

However, despite my love of this craft, I would have liked the misadventures of this incompetent band of scalawags to have been trimmed about 20 minutes and the completely unnecessary 3D effects eliminated.

Directed by Peter Lord ("Chicken Run") and Jeff Newitt, and written by Gideon Defoe, the film offers up a group of bumbling simpleton buccaneers (an effeminate first officer, an albino, a girl in disguise and a gentle giant — voiced by Al Roker) led by the single worst raider of all-time, the blandly-named Pirate Captain (voice of Hugh Grant, "Did You Hear About the Morgans?", "Music and Lyrics"). Captain has sought to become the Pirate of the Year for several decades, but always seems to come up short of that goal.

And that's because he basically has no idea how to rob and plunder ships or harbors. It's not for a lack of trying, though — he and his misfits enthusiastically (and mistakenly) board plague, ghost and medical ships, and even a boat which is taking children on a field trip.

All he gets for these efforts is humiliation and degradation. Even his "wanted" poster (a reward of "12 cents and a free pen" are offered) mocks his amazing ineptness.

Meanwhile, other, better pirates — with more substantial bounties — such as Black Bellemy (voice of Jeremy Piven, "The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard," "Entourage" TV series), Cutless Liz (voice of Salma Hayek, "Puss in Boots," "Grown Ups") and Peg Leg Hastings (voice of Lenny Henry, "French and Saunders" British TV series), are bringing in the booty (gold and other treasure) which is likely to win one of them the Pirate of the Year honors yet again.

But after taking over the HMS Beagle and capturing a dopey, lovesick and conniving Charles Darwin (voice of David Tennant, "How to Train Your Dragon," the remake of "Fright Night"), Captain is informed that his bird, Polly, which he had always assumed was a parrot, is actually a thought-to-be-extinct Dodo.

Darwin persuades him to present the rare animal to the Royal Science Society in London, a sure thing to claim the big prize. A win is a win, so Captain agrees, despite the suspicion of his first officer (voice of Martin Freeman, "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy").

Nothing, however, is as simple as it seems or should be. Darwin, with his "man-panzee" butler, Mr. Bobo (who uses title cards to express his often-hilarious dialogue), has other plans for the Dodo.

So does the pirate-hating, blubberous, evil despot Queen Victoria (voice of Imelda Staunton, "Arthur Christmas," "Vera Drake"). Both, infinitely more cunning than Captain, manage to get him to break the raiders' code and lose the respect of his crew as well as the entire pirate community.

Will Captain ever get back into the good graces of his peers? Will the the crew ever live up to their potential? Can the queen go on a diet? Will Charles Darwin ever discover the principal of evolution, write "The Origin of Species" or get a girlfriend?

The answers to these and other inquiries are delivered in offbeat ways. And while the film is made for children, the quips during the adventure — many of the British upper-class twit variety — come fast and furious and will mostly fly way over their heads.

Parents, however, should appreciate the writing and nuances — look for some clever scenes featuring characters like Jane Austin, Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell and John Merrick, as well as some humorous road and shop signs in and around London and the various ports of call, including the pirate haven of Blood Island — but may become bored when the movie slows to a crawl near the middle.

This ultimately leads to a middle-of-the-road feature. For the most part "The Pirates! Band Of Misfits" is visually appealing (although the 3D version adds nothing to the adventure other than an inflated admission price) and the adventure is rife with laughs.

It's unfortunate, however, that one has to be as quick as a cannon shot to appreciate the puns (and more unfortunate that kids — even if they could process the quick-shot humor — will not fully understand what their parents might be chuckling about).

"Pirates" doen't walk the plank, here, but neither does it sail high on the Seven Seas. It basically floats along - competently - during its 90-minute running time until it completes it rather tepid journey.
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Young Children Will Enjoy
FFman-847-4601262 May 2012
I'm still confused about why stop action films are being made. With the advancements of the past two decades in animation, stop action films are utterly outdated. Still, mostly due to foreign movie-goers, this movie will make a good profit. I guess that is all that matters. When it comes down to it, this type of films gives filmmakers another type of medium to present their work. For a movie that is quite difficult and time-consuming to make, I wish the script had been better. The Pirates wasn't bad. It was simply lackluster.

Children's films of the past two decades have stumbled across a key to being fantastic. With movies like Shrek and Wall-E, filmmakers have come to realize you need to make the movie enjoyable for adults and children. It is obvious that the makers of The Pirates tried to do this…and even more obvious that they had no idea how to do it. They added in dialogue about sexuality and alcohol with words that no child would understand. That is pretty much the only way that the filmmakers try to entertain the adult audience.

Luckily, this movie will be entertaining for most children. The pirates' genre has been dried up in recent years. Many parts of this storyline are not unique simple because they are working with the same genre as so many other films. On several other levels, The Pirates is quite unique. The whole premise of "Pirate of the Year" as well as the entire conclusion was enjoyable and unlike anything I have seen. Still, I am disappointed that more wasn't provided for the adult audience.

The Pirates contains the character of Charles Darwin. The more I think about it, the more I wonder if this was the movie's attempt at intriguing the older viewers. As the movie progresses, however, it becomes apparent that the character was added simply because they wanted to add a historical character. The movie presents him as a loner scientist who can't get a girlfriend. It doesn't work. In the end, all the effort of this movie was made for the younger viewers.

This movie is worth seeing for viewers who are 9-10 or younger. Any older and the preteen will think it is a lame kid's movie (which it is). However, if you have a kid in that range, I bet they will like it. The action is entertaining enough and the movie is short enough to hold their attention throughout. Unfortunately, the creator's lack of caring about the older audience means this will be a long 90 minutes for most parents. If you want to enjoy yourself while giving your kid a good time, go see Chimpanzee instead.
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mrphillips5706 May 2012
After reading a few of the critic and user reviews I decided to take my 9 year old daughter and 4 year old son to see this film. The reviews were favorable so I assumed it would be good. WRONG!!! This film is terrible! The theater was 75% full of kids and adults alike. The only laughter I could hear was during the trailer for "Dispecable Me 2". If I had to guess no more than 10 people enjoyed it. All the reviews I read enjoyed this movie but I had to speak up for the normal parent. Do not go see this movie in the theater. Wait for Blu-Ray or even for it to come out on basic cable. I usually enjoy seeing movies with my kids and enjoy going to the movies in general. But this was not entertaining, clever, or funny in anyway.
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Utter Drivel
jsf-159 April 2012
There was a time when Aardman could do no wrong. Sadly this film marks the end of those glory days. The story was awful and the jokes were hackneyed. Not even the animation was up to its usual mark.

Usually they say that a film has 'something for everyone to enjoy' this film had something to insult everyone. It depicted many major historical figures that people revere today as either evil ogres or incompetent buffoons. It insulted the British Royal Family, it insulted the American presidency, it insulted the French republic and its depiction of Darwin started to make me think the whole show had been funded by fundamentalist Christians.

The chimpanzee was just a poor copy of the sign-language chimps from Madagascar, hardly original and far from funny.

It was no surprise that people walked out of the cinema I was at, it was a waste of money and time.

Don't bother watching the movie, the only moderately humorous parts are all in the trailer, just watch that and save yourself the money.
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Pirates in an adventure they alone will really enjoy.
anches-725-9763064 April 2012
I took three grandchildren, ages 4, 8 and 10 to see this film and I must say that none of us were that impressed. The youngest got very fidgety and the other two thought it was just O.K. The trouble is, that if you don't have the right level of awareness, a lot of the subtleties of the plot will just pass you by: there is word play which will not work with little kids, there are anachronisms which they will not understand and in the case of two of my lads, the joke about the "surprisingly curvaceous pirate" didn't work because they saw what was going on and couldn't figure why everyone in the film didn't (well, there's kids for you!) Anyway, I wouldn't recommend this as a film to take the weans to: mine were well-behaved compared to some, but it can be enjoyed by anyone with sufficient perspicacity, especially those who have been exposed to the delights of Molesworth and his pals. Don't go to see it if you are basing your decision on Aardman's previous output. It is too self aware and lacks the wise innocence of that.
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Aaardan now hates everything Aardman stands for...?
Loxlie-21 February 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Such a very very weird movie for Aardman to make. So here's the plot: Hugh Grant plays a desperately, dangerously insecure mass-murdering moron who violently assaults and thieves from anyone he stumbles upon.

One of the victims is Charles Darwin who, of course, is a nerd, who cares only for seeing a woman's boobs.

(Coz - you know - he's a nerd! What an absolute loser!! He's into science and stuff! Like Wallace from off of Wallace and Gromit, and EVERYONE hates Wallace! Especially Aardman, apparently now...)

And at that point it should all invert, and Darwin becomes the hero, but no. Grant's awful character carries on being the hero, by continuing being the absolute moron that he is.

Obviously it's animated impeccably, and there's a few excellent jokes (though plenty is lifted wholesale from Muppet Treasure Island) and it was made in my home city, and I'm friends with one of the animators, so I don't say this lightly, but it's quite horrid compared with what Aardman usually is, and absolutely should be.

And Darwin would *never ever* call a chimpanzee a "monkey"... I mean, what...??!!
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