60 Second Movie Review: “The Pirates! Band of Misfits 3D” (2012)
May 11, 2012 5 Comments
Most of us know and love — or at least have a slight fondness for — the Wallace and Gromit guys, more officially known as Aardman Animations. They are the claymation creators behind The Pirates! Band of Misfits 3D, which I saw with a friend at the Westfield Mall in San Francisco.
I’ll say one thing — the start was disappointing. Not the start of the movie, but the way in which we were almost late because I prompted us to descend into the depths of the mall to get some luxury dark chocolate (the Cinemark selection was disappointing) and we had a difficult time getting back. “Oh, are you from out of town too?” asked a bespectacled gentleman who stepped straight out of central casting for a 1950s Gene Kelly picture. “No, but we’re from out of the mall…”
The film itself was lots of fun — did you know it has pirates? — although it runs out of steam about three quarters of the way through. The plot consists of a pirate captain called The Pirate Captain, a loveable loser (voiced by Hugh Grant) who wants to be Pirate of the Year but has stiff competition in the form of three winners (voiced by Salma Hayek, Jeremy Piven, and Lenny Henry).
Martin Freeman plays the moral center of the film, The Pirate Captain’s first mate, the Pirate with a Scarf. Essentially, he’s there to curb The Pirate Captain’s eccentricities and serve as a go-between between the Captain and the rest of the world. Which is pretty much what Freeman does as Doctor Watson on Sherlock, although Sherlock is a bit brighter than The Pirate Captain.
I’m constantly struck by how such an evil Empire as Britain also produced such a legacy of silly comedy. The film, based on the book by Gideon Defoe, is slightly subversive as it dares to make one British legend into a commanding villain (Queen Victoria, voiced by Imelda Staunton) and another British legend into an inept villain (Charles Darwin, voiced by David Tennant).
Many of the gags were good. There is the visual humor of Mr. Bobo the monkey. There are the celebrations of Ham Nite….
…and of course there is the depth that claymation provides a film, that computer-generated animation still cannot match, although they used enough of the latter with this film that it doesn’t have the same complete charm of previous Aardman enterprises, even as its whimsy and sincerity are reminiscent of those past productions.
Once The Pirate Captain makes his ill-fated decision regarding Polly, the inventiveness tapers off, but there’s still enough wind in the sails to make land. Enjoy the film with your mateys.