Apr 062012


‘Pirate of the Year’ is the one treasure that the hapless Pirate Captain (Hugh Grant) wants more than all the rest. See what we think of his quest to claim the title in our review of The Pirates! Band of Misfits after the jump.

The Pirate Captain is not exactly a scary, swash-buckling  sort of pirate. He and his merry crew are more like a family, and they sail the seas in search of adventure and treasure. What the slightly vain Pirate Captain wants more than anything else is to win the ‘Pirate of the Year’ award – it’s awarded annually at a “glamorous” ceremony to the pirate with the most treasure, and consequently the biggest bounty on his head. He’s not exactly good at the plundering and thieving stuff though, so he needs to find another way to get the loot needed to come out on top.


Enter Mr Charles Darwin. Darwin is on the seas in his research ship when the pirate crew try to rob him. It turns out he has nothing of value for them, but they have something of great value to him – a very rare bird. Darwin convinces the pirates to come to London to a science show, where he assures them that they will win an unimaginably large prize. With that the pirates follow him to London and from there the adventures really kick off.

The Pirates! is the latest film from animation company Aardman, who have bought us such fantastic films as Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit and Arthur Christmas. While this film is indeed a lot of fun and easily the best family film out this Easter, it lacks some of the magic that earlier Aardman films have. It’s hard to pin-point exactly why, but our theory is there is simply too much going on. Sure it’s a simple enough film, but for a kids movie there is a lot going on, and consequently there are quite a few loose-ends that need to be tied up at the end of the film. There are several scenes where the characters simply sit around talking and planning their next move. This gets a little bit boring at times, and it probably won’t hold the attention of the wee ones. It’s also a shame this film is in 3D – clay stop-motion animation is already so beautiful and rich, and it gains absolutely nothing by being in 3D.


Ultimately there are far more positives than negatives, and this film is worth a look. The animation is simply beautiful and the detailing that has gone into the characters and sets is quite incredible. The characters are a lot of fun and they all have unique and interesting personalities. Hugh Grant does a great job as The Pirate Captain, while the extremely scary and seething Queen Victoria is played wonderfully by Imelda Staunton. There is some great humour in this film, and best of all it is assessable for the little and big kids alike. Make sure to look out for Darwin’s monkey servant – his amusing antics get the biggest laughs throughout the movie. The music in this film is very British (with the exception of an oddly placed Flight of the Conchords song), and adds a sense of fun and adventure to the action set-pieces.


While The Pirates! falls a little flat in places, it is still an enjoyable film overall. It is one of those rare films [these-days] that the whole family can easily enjoy. It is by far the best family movie out this Easter.


The Facts

Director(s): Peter Lord & Jeff Newitt
Writer(s): Gideon Defoe (book)
Starring: Hugh Grant, Martin Freeman, Salma Hayek, Jeremy Piven
Runtime: 88 minutes
Release dates: Australia & New Zealand: April 5th 2012; USA: April 27th 2012


Images via Collider