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The Pirates! Band of Misfits

311 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Set sail for a fun-filled voyage and hilarious pirate antics with the biggest Band of Misfits on the seven seas! When the infamous Pirate Captain (Hugh Grant) is shunned once again by his rivals Black Bellamy and Cutlass Liz, he sets his sights to win the coveted Pirate of the Year Award! With his trusted dodo, Polly and rag-tag crew at his side, the Pirate Captain will need to battle a diabolical queen, save a young scientist and never lose sight of what a pirate loves best: Adventure!

The wizards of stop-motion mirth at Britain's Aardman Animations have significantly stepped up their art, craft, and storytelling style in The Pirates! Band of Misfits. Commonly known as Claymation (though the elaborately rendered miniature sets and figures are constructed with high-tech Plasticine), the process involves painstaking manipulation of physical forms to create the smooth movements and clever nuance of character that made Aardman famous with their iconic Wallace & Gromit shorts and the features Chicken Run and Flushed Away. The source material is a series of books by Gideon Defoe that are of the for-kids-and-grownups-alike variety, which means The Pirates! is perfect family fare that has plenty of intelligent asides to counterbalance the wacky and slapstick shenanigans. The story is set on the tropical high seas and in the heart of Victorian London, where Queen Victoria herself (voiced by Imelda Staunton) has a starring role. The movie takes giddy pleasure in making her out to be a nefarious no-goodnik who has plenty of secrets, though none of the lacy unmentionable variety. The real star is the Pirate Captain (a husky-sounding Hugh Grant) who's more interested in procuring cured pork for his ship's regular "Ham Nite" feasts than plundering for valuable booty. This becomes kind of a problem when he enters the Pirate of the Year contest and finds himself up against the stiff competition of Black Bellamy (Jeremy Piven), Cutlass Liz (Salma Hayek), and Peg Leg Hastings (Lenny Henry), all of whom have oodles of jewels and doubloons to back up their bids. But the Pirate Captain has a bird in the hand that may win him the prize yet. His ship's mascot Polly is not a parrot as he and the crew believe, but rather the world's only surviving dodo, so identified by Charles Darwin (David Tennant) when his famous ship the Beagle is attacked by the pirates. Darwin assures the captain that Polly is worthy of winning him Scientist of the Year and untold riches. So it's off to London and into the malevolent schemes of both Darwin and Victoria. A madcap series of events leads to an air-sea showdown of breathtaking proportions that blends meticulous stop-motion technique with top-flight CG effects. Throughout the movie the attention to detail is sensational, even in the most throwaway gags. An underlying cleverness is woven into every precisely composed scene, adding to the overall sense of comic timing and the meticulous elements of story that imbue every movement. The laughs come fast and furious, especially in several elaborate set pieces that include a wild bathtub ride down a seemingly endless staircase, and the bravura finale that swoops and soars through, over, and around Victoria's behemoth of a steampunk sea vessel. The speed of the jokes and the sophisticated action never overshadow the wildly amusing story and dotingly-thought-out character details. Among the lovable and eloquently voiced ensemble pirate crew are the Pirate with a Scarf (Martin Freeman), the Albino Pirate (Anton Yelchin), the Pirate with Gout (Brendan Gleeson), the Surprisingly Curvaceous Pirate (Ashley Jensen), and the Pirate Who Likes Sunsets and Kittens (Al Roker). But more than anyone it's codirectors Peter Lord and Jeff Newitt who are primarily responsible for deftly keeping The Pirates! afloat in what could easily become another memorable Aardman franchise. --Ted Fry

Special Features


Product Details

  • Directors: Peter Lord
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures
  • DVD Release Date: August 28, 2012
  • Digital Copy Expiration Date: December 31, 2017 (Click here for more information)
  • Run Time: 88 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (311 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0034G4P1W
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,408 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Pirates! Band of Misfits" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Jessica Thomas on March 22, 2012
Format: DVD
The book is great. The movie is great. That doesn't usually happen. I guess it is because Gideon Defoe, the author of the book, also wrote the screenplay for the movie, intending one not to be a "spoiler" for the other. The movie was definitely more of a kids' movie, where the pirates were the ragtag underdogs struggling to keep up in the increasingly competitive pirate world (you are judged for your "booty"--double entendre?). The book has different characters and a completely different villain! That is how much the stories differed. The book also contains more grown-up humour - more people being run-through by swords, more blood, more walking the plank, more steely pirate bad-assedness. Queen Victoria is one crazy woman in this movie, enough to get PETA up-in-arms for ages. The other pirates the Pirate Captain competes against for the Pirate of the Year Award (Salma Hayek, Jeremy Piven) are swashbuckling good fun, even if they are more than a little rude toward the beloved Hugh Grant's character. Also, Hugh Grant gives a surprisingly different performance than the one he's known for in his rom-coms; his pitch is deep and fierce and his performance is touchingly funny without any over-saturated fluff. Gideon Defoe is spot on for creating a movie that is appropriate for the kiddies and a book that has humour for the older kids. See the movie because Aardman's stuff is always funny, but definitely read the book to get the original story.
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40 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Aidan J. McQuade on April 8, 2012
Format: Blu-ray
After years of disappointment the Pirate Captain (Hugh Grant) resolves to finally win the Pirate of the Year competition and so embarks on a series of raids on passing ships in the hope of earning sufficient booty to compete with the his rivals Cutlass Liz (Salma Hayek) and Black Belamy (Jeremy Piven). However he is still plagued by bad luck with the best produced by a succession of raids being the capture of Charles Darwin (David Tennant). Still at least Darwin is able to identify that Pirate Captain's beloved parrot Polly is in fact a dodo, supposedly extinct for over a hundred years. This gives them both an idea...!

Pirates! is a gloriously hilarious, exquisitely produced movie. Its very much a children's movie but with plenty of sly asides to keep adults on their toes as well. The sets are stupendous and almost beg a second viewing in themselves to allow the viewer to try to aborb all the teeming detail. Both the voice performances of the cast, and the painstaking detail of the stop-motion animation are flawless.

I thought it as close to perfect a piece of film-making as I have seen in many years and I hope for more adventures of the Pirate Captain and his crew in the not to distant future.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By S. Sherwin on October 21, 2012
Format: Amazon Instant Video Verified Purchase
I'm really picky about kids' movies. If my daughter enjoys it, fine, but she isn't what you might call discerning. This is one of the few that I actually enjoyed watching with her. Sharp humor, clever writing and fantastic to look at. It even has David Tennant! What else could you want?
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15 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Mark Turner on August 28, 2012
Format: Blu-ray
Pirates have become cool again with the trilogy of films made by Johnny Depp but those films might be just a tad too intense for the youngest of children. With that in mind the folks at Aardman studios, the stop motion group responsible for Wallace and Gromitt among other things, have come up with some pirates of their own. They've just been unleashed with this film.

The story follows a group of pirates that aren't quite up to snuff in the pirate hierarchy. Sure they have the peg legs and eye patches, but this ragtag group just doesn't seem to pillage near as much as most. They're led by the Pirate Captain who does his best to keep his crew happy and content (hey, don't forget ham night!). But Pirate Captain has dreams of his own, of becoming the Pirate of the Year.

The only problem is the amount of pirating he and his crew does. With Cutlass Liz and Black Bellamy always bringing in more booty they win the competition every year. Rather than allow him the chance to do better, the group always ridicules him as well.

That could all change when Captain Pirate and his crew board a boat stocked with all sorts of stuffed animals and body parts. The boat belongs to Charles Darwin who's been seeking a special scientific discovery so that he can become the Scientist of the Year award back in London. He too has had a tuff time but when he sees Captain Pirate's parrot he recognizes it is not a parrot at all but the extinct dodo bird. Darwin convinces Captain Pirate to take him to London along with the bird where they will win all sorts of treasures for their discovery.

Even though the queen has placed a bounty on the heads of every pirate to sail the seven seas the group heads for London.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By wiredweird HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on May 7, 2012
Format: DVD
I've come to expect good things from Aardman Animations, and this lives up to my high expectations. The story itself is kid-friendly and amusing, but with plenty for the grownups to enjoy. The generally gentle tone avoids aggression and darker themes, so will probably work well for all but the most skittish of kids. Best of all, production values are of the best quality. The stop-animation figure have just the right goofiness, beautifully animated. The sets are spectacular, too - each one is actually constructed and decorated as you see it on screen, and there are dozens. And, in a few places, it seems that modern technology enhances this most classic of animation styles. Clouds, flame, and water effects work well, adding a touch of realism to the whimsical figures and props. Like the Wallace and Gromit tradition before it, Pirates is a hoot!

-- wiredweird
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