May 05, 2012

MOVIES: The Pirates! Band of Misfits (Peter Lord & Jeff Newitt, 2012)

This is not among the very best animation from Aardman, certainly nowhere near the level of the Wallace and Gromit movies, but it's a mildly amusing movie that'll keep the kids entertained.

Hugh Grant provides the voice of the Pirate Captain, who wants desperately to win the 1837 Pirate of the Year award. But he's been trying for twenty years, and is always outclassed by the truly great pirates; all he's ever won is a ribbon for Best Anecdote About a Squid.

This year, though, an unexpected encounter with Charles Darwin (David Tennant) just might provide the Captain with the booty he needs to win the award, if only he can outsmart the nemesis of all pirates: Queen Victoria (Imelda Staunton). The key is the Captain's beloved Polly, who is wanted by both Darwin and Victoria, and who is most definitely not your ordinary parrot.

The stop-motion animation is charming, though occasionally rather busy; there's a lot going on in the backgrounds (I liked the pub sign that advertises Urchin Tossing and Cockney Baiting every Sunday). Some of the action sequences are quite spectacular, and must have been extraordinarily time-consuming to do in stop-motion. The plot is a bit thin, and the humor comes more often from sight gags and puns than from character.

Probably not something you need to rush to the theater for unless you're a particular fan of Aardman, but it'll be a pleasant enough way to pass 90 minutes when it gets to cable.

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