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THE PIRATES! BAND OF MISFITS

THE PIRATES: BAND OF MISFITSPG2012

"Avast! I'm a pirate captain, and I'm here for your gold!"

-- Pirate Captain
The Pirates! Band of Misfits is a 2012 stop-motion animation film directed by Jeff Newitt & Peter Lord. The film tells the story of the bumbling Pirate Captain (voiced by Hugh Grant) who has led his crew on many adventures but has somehow managed to steal absolutely no booty. As the annual "Pirate of the Year" awards descend upon the seas, the Pirate Captain desperately attempts to find a way to win the award for the first time. He has quite a bit of competition from some of the best captains on the seven seas, but his crew is determined to help him bring home the trophy. After a string of unsuccessful attempts at plundering, the crew meets a scientist named Charles Darwin (voiced by David Tennant) who identifies the crew's parrot Polly as actually being a dodo, which the world thought to be extinct. He informs the crew that a scientists' convention might pay handsomely for such a find, so the Pirate Captain makes sail for London, knowing full well that the pirate-hating Queen Victoria (voiced by Imelda Staunton) may lay in wait.

Those of you who have been reading my reviews for quite a while will know that I'm a bit of a fan of Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, and those films got me interested in the idea of pirate movies altogether. So, when I heard about an upcoming animated film featuring a ragtag group of pirates sailing for adventure, you can be sure that I was terribly excited to see it. The Pirates! Band of Misfits even managed to pull the number five spot on my ten most anticipated films of 2012. That's saying quite a bit. And so, I impatiently awaited my opportunity to see the film, which has finally come.

I have to say that I feel a little letdown by the film, which didn't necessarily prove to be as funny as I thought it could be. Although there are plenty of moments where the film offers a smile or a chuckle, I was honestly hoping for something a little bit stronger. The film has been well-received by most critics, and it currently holds an eighty-six percent approval rating on Rottentomatoes.com. That's strong, I suppose. I mean, I did find the film utterly entertaining, and it definitely kept my interest from start to finish. Some of the jokes and gags were incredibly inventive and intelligent. They help keep the story moving along nicely, and for that, the screenplay should be commended. There just isn't a ton of depth to the storyline and the dialogue, and that itself is a bit of a knock against the screenplay. It's entertaining, but there was definitely room for improvement.

Luckily, we as the audience are getting a rather strong vocal cast for the film. Grant plays the Pirate Captain fantastically, bringing quite a bit of emotion to the character that could have easily fallen into typical caricature. I also thought that Tennant and Staunton did well. We're also getting a number of smaller vocal performances from some big-time actors. Be on the listen for the likes of Martin Freeman, Salma Hayek, Anton Yelchin, Brendan Gleeson and a slightly misplaced Jeremy Piven. But this is definitely Grant's effort, and it's a very strong effort and worth enjoying.

I do have to commend the animation crew for crafting some of the best stop-motion animation I've ever seen in a film. We're starting to see a resurgence in the stop-motion field, and I think each subsequent film will provide a little more of a piece to the puzzle, and it starts here with The Pirates! Band of Misfits. It's a visually beautiful film, and for that reason alone, it's worth watching.

At the end of the day, The Pirates! Band of Misfits is a fun film that's good for a chuckle and a few laughs, and the animation itself is astoundingly beautiful. Still, the film as a whole feels just a little bit flat, and although you'll be smiling at film's end, I'd challenge any viewer to try to remember the film a week from now. It just doesn't have that retaining factor to bring it into the upper echelon of animated films.

Movie Review SummaryGrade: BShould You Watch It? Yes