Film Review – The Pirates! Band of Misfits

The Pirates! Band of Misfits (G)

Directed by: Peter Lord, Jeff Newitt

Starring: Hugh Grant, David Tennant, Jeremy Piven, Salma Hayek

Three and a half stars

Review by: Julian Wright

There is nothing like a bit of claymation to inject some freshness back into the tired old pirate theme. Pirates of the Caribbean (2003) brought the forgotten swashbuckling genre back with a vengeance but ultimately killed it off again with its overblown sequels. A little more low-key with more focus on script coherency, The Pirates! Band of Misfits is the kind of pirate film the whole family can enjoy.

Having struggled for 20 years to be recognised as the pirate of the year, Pirate Captain (Hugh Grant) enters the competition once again, sure that this will be his year. He hasn’t scored much gold lately, and his crew are a bunch of misfits (did you guess?) but still he is hopeful. That is, until his peers Black Bellamy (Jeremy Piven) and Cutlass Liz (Salma Hayek) begin to seriously outshine him with their treasures and their showmanship.

Pirate Captain heads out to pick up his game but instead of finding gold, he meets Charles Darwin (David Tennant) a lonely, down on his luck scientist who needs some cash. Darwin realises Pirate Captain’s fat parrot is really a Dodo and so the everyone heads to London for Science conference that is sure to bring Darwin plenty of kudos in his fields and Pirate Captain plenty of money. Unfortunately, Queen Victoria hates pirates and will have them killed.

Aardman Animations’ other films – which include Chicken Run and Wallace and Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit – have somehow slipped past this reviewer, but if they are anything like this charming piece of cinema then they are onto a good thing. While Pirates never strikes as particularly memorable or outstanding, the script and animation is imaginative and the film is consistently amusing. The whole family will be able to get a decent amount of laughs out of this one.

What is impressive, as those who are familiar with Aardman Animations’ work would know, is the detail that goes into the animation. There is something about this technique that wins you over, but you can tell just as much thought has been put into the story, unlike most soulless, cash cow animated films we tend to get stuck with.

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