SYNOPSIS: Set sail for a fun-filled voyage of 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 (Jeremy Piven) and Liz Cutlass (Salma Hayek), he sets his sights to win the coveted Pirate of the Year Award! With his trusted "parrot" Polly and rag-tag crew at his side, Pirate Captain will need to battle a diabolical queen, save a young scientist and never lose sight of what a pirate loves best: Adventure!


For their sophomore effort with Sony Pictures Animation, the good folks at Aardman Animation turn to the works of British author Gideon Defoe for another beautifully staged claymation comedy, “The Pirates! Band of Misfits”.  

While personally not a big fan of their fully CG titles such as “Flushed Away” and “Arthur Christmas” which to me is taking the magic out of  their artistry, the famous animation outfit has came out with a delicate balance of CG elements and painstakingly stop-motion techniques on this production. The models and characters continue to dazzle and the details are wondrous. A simple panning of the camera on the streets of London or the notorious Blood Island is enough to drive geeks like us into frenzy.

Written by Defoe himself and based on the first two books of his Pirates series, “The Pirates! Band of Misfits” tells the story of a goofy pirate named Pirate Captain and his desire to win the coveted Pirate of the Year Award. And how to qualify for the top award? The one that plunder the biggest loot wins it. Pirate Captain incidentally encountered the renowned Scientist, Charles Darwin while on a pillage and being misled by Darwin, Pirate Captain, his crew and his beloved dodo, Polly travel to London (where Pirates are wanted by the Queen by the way) to enter the Scientist of the Year competition assuming there will be a valuable prize awaiting. However, what Pirate Captain isn’t expecting is the Queen herself, a crew of disappointed pirates and a missing prized dodo.

“The Pirates! Band of Misfits” doesn’t disappoint if you are a fan of Aardman’s big screen productions such as “Wallace And Gromit: The Curse of the Were Rabbit” and “Chicken Run”. Slightly cleverer than the average American animations, it’s filled to the brim with trademark Brit humour, laugh off your socks one-liners yet maintain itself as a swashbuckling comedy suitable for the whole family. Not satisfied being rich in the visual sense, there are plenty of other side gags liked the Elephant Man for instance and other ingenious fights and chases concocted by the talented crew to keep things going relentlessly for 88 minutes. The pirates as Masters of disguise are a repetitive amusing act.    

Hugh Grant who has shunned the limelight for a while brought his brand of self-deprecating humour to the role of Pirate Captain. Grant should be applauded for his performance and he makes a strong contender for the Pirate award besides Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow. Other notable voice performers include Martin Freeman (The Hobbit) as Pirate Captain’s second-in-command and Salma Hayek (Grown Ups) and Jeremy Piven (Entourage) as fellow competitive pirates. Of course, in addition a man-panzee who communicates mainly by cue cards is plain silly.

While not historically accurate especially the dig at Queen Victoria and Charles Darwin, “The Pirates! Band of Misfits” is a whole booty of fun that one can enjoyed over and over again.

Let’s go plundering!


The directors contribute an informative track that includes pointing out which characters onscreen are CG and tiny detailed gags, jokes which you might have missed in Filmmakers Commentary.

Mr Bobo’s Flash Card Challenge
is an interactive game for kids.  

From Stop to Motion is a brief but comprehensive making of segment that covers the story arc, design of the characters, storyboarding, cinematography, sound and music of the movie. You just can’t get enough of Aardman stuff.

The Aardman crew takes audience behind-the-scenes in shooting one of the movie’s exhilarating chases in Creating The Bath Chase.


“The Pirates! Band of Misfits” DVD has no image problems and the pirates’ world is wonderfully presented with the clay-made characters blended seamlessly with CG ones. The Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound effects are strong and vigorous especially during the action sequences. Dialogue and accompanied song tracks are clear and boisterous.



Review by Linus Tee