The Pirates! Band of Misfits – Movie Review
An entertaining, clever and gorgeously-animated return to stop-motion filmmaking.
When it comes to British humor and claymation (stop-motion animation done with clay puppets), usually nobody does it better than the great Aardman Animation studio. They got their start with their Oscar-winning Wallace and Gromit series (including the feature length film The Curse of the Were-Rabbit), and they’ve also charmed audiences worldwide with Chicken Run, Flushed Away, and their recent holiday hit, Arthur Christmas. Now, they are here to proudly present their fifth feature-length animated feature (the third one that is a claymation film), The Pirates! Band of Misfits. Is this silly parody of pirate lore a fresh take on the genre, or does Aardman deserve to walk the plank?
In 1837, Queen Victoria (Imelda Staunton) was in power inEngland. She was large, spiteful, self-indulgent, and above all, she hated pirates! After all, they were the main threat to her marine empire across the globe (at least according to this film’s version of Victoria). Alas, the same can’t be said about the Pirate Captain (Hugh Grant) and his loyal (notwithstanding pathetic) crew. Every year, he enters the competition for the Pirate of the Year Award at Blood Island in the Caribbean, but he humiliatingly loses each and every year due to his enormous lack of success out at sea. This year, he vows to prove himself, and he then enters the competition with a more confident mindset than ever before. Despite this, he has little early success, although at one point he happens to come across the ship of the very lonely, girlfriend-less Charles Darwin (David Tennant). He tells them that the Pirate Captain’s overweight (or in the Captain’s words, “big-boned”) parrot Polly is actually a dodo, which was a species of bird that was supposedly extinct for 200 years (at least, in the time period of the film). Polly then becomes the center of the Pirate Captain’s plan to finally earn the respect he wants…
To be honest, this is nowhere near an all-out lesson on how to assert oneself into high society or overcome self-indulgence. Sure, it can be interpreted as such since all stories should have a good message to back them up, but mostly The Pirates! is just a goofy, comedic adventure. Is that a bad thing, though? No! Anyone can see from the trailer that this is not a necessarily “deep” film. Nonetheless, I think that The Pirates! Band of Misfts is all the better because of that. Well, I believe that if the creative team at Aardman got lost in trying to teach kids a moral lesson, it wouldn’t have been as mindlessly entertaining. Thus, The Pirates! is absolutely hilarious. Truth be told, it’s not as funny as previous Aardman films since this film is perhaps too goofy for its own good (British comedies always require a specific taste, too), but nonetheless, I had a great time watching this film. The story itself is entertaining enough, but as I said earlier on, The Pirates! isn’t exactly a thought-provoking animated film.