"Behind every captain, there's a crew. Sure, some of you are as ugly as a sea cucumber, some of you are closer to being a chair or coat rack than a pirate, and some of you are fish I've just dressed up in a hat..." This is what Aardman nrings to the big screen with The Pirates! Band of Misfits. This stop-motion animated film produced by Aardman Animations, in partnership with Sony Pictures Animation, and directed by Peter Lord. The film is based on the first two books from Gideon Defoe's The Pirates! series, The Pirates! in an Adventure with Scientists and The Pirates! in an Adventure with Whaling. The film centers on the Pirate Captain who sets out on a mission to defeat his rivals Black Bellamy and Cutlass Liz for the Pirate of the year Award. The quest takes Captain and his crew from the shores of Blood Island to the foggy streets of Victorian London.
Despite being a stop-motion film, Aardman extensively used computer graphics to complement and enrich the film with visual elements such as sea and scenery. Peter Lord commented, "With Pirates!, I must say that the new technology has made Pirates! really liberating to make, easy to make because the fact that you can shoot a lot of green screen stuff, the fact that you can easily extend the sets with CG, the fact that you can put the sea in there and a beautiful wooden boat that, frankly, would never sail in a million years, you can take that and put it into a beautiful CG scene and believe it."
The Pirates! features the voices of Hugh Grant as The Pirate Captain, Salma Hayek as Cutlass Liz, Jeremy Piven as Black Bellamy, Imelda Staunton as Queen Victoria, David Tennant as Charles Darwin, Martin Freeman as The Pirate with a Scarf, Brendan Gleeson as The Pirate with Gout and Brian Blessed as The Pirate King. Hugh Grant gives great voice to the mild-mannered pirate captain. I also enjoyed Salma Hayek's Cutlass Liz, and Jeremy Piven's scenery-chewing Black Bellamy, even though they were small roles. I also loved how historical figures like Charles Darwin, Queen Victoria, and even The Elephant Man have all made their way across the screen and were gleefully portrayed. It has been a while since I heard talents such as David Tennant, playing the ill confident scientist Charles Darwin, since the Dr. Who series, and Brian Blessed, as the Pirate King, since The Blackadder series and Flash Gordon (1980).
The Pirates! Band of Misfits has all the charm of Peter Lord’s Chicken Run (2000), and something for everybody. The voice acting is fabulous, the slapstick is brilliant, and the action sequences are spectacular. Apart from looking like Aardman’s other films, the film stands alone in its unwavering determination not to play down to the kiddies. To conclude, indeed, it's one of the best movie comedy to come out of England since Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005).
Simon says The Pirates! Band of Misfits receives: