The Pirates! Band of Misfits
Pirates are difficult protagonists for a kids’ film, tending to be amoral villains who steal, pillage and avoid basic hygiene. So how can they be the stars of a charming stop-motion animated film? Make them complete dorks.
Hugh Grant has always been a funnier actor when he’s not the coolest guy in the room, so he gets a field day as the Pirate Captain. This is a captain who desperately wants to win the Pirate of the Year award. Other pirates have stolen the largest diamond or been the fiercest on the seven seas. The Pirate Captain’s big plan is to win a big science prize and then steal the winnings.
The Pirate Captain’s band of misfits includes a bunch of nameless characters that include his right-hand man (“Sherlock’s” Martin Freeman), an upbeat albino (Anton Yelchin) and a pirate that totally isn’t a woman with a giant fake beard (Ashley Jensen of “Extras”). They run into Charles Darwin (“Doctor Who’s” David Tennant), who starts them on their adventure with scientists.
Like all Aardvark Animation movies, this is filled with tons of silly thrills and wonderful little touches — the slight monkey shape of Darwin’s head being one of my favorites. All of the convoluted chase sequences and action roller coasters are a complete blast. Having Queen Victoria (Imelda Staunton) as a sinister pirate-hating villain showed that the filmmakers could have a lot of fun but not stick close to history.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t a big box office hit, but I’m really hoping this is able to have a sequel. All of the characters are so much fun and the film looks gorgeous — especially the sequences with animated water. There are plenty more books in this series, so let’s have another film.
The DVD/Blu-ray is filled with some great extras. There is a new 20-minute short film involving the cast that starts off as a typical parody of talk shows but then escalates to farcical mayhem. There are also some games and some really cool featurettes about how the movie was made.
Film: 4 Yaps
Extras: 4.5 Yaps