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Pep Anton Muñoz
After years of humiliation and failed attempts to win the coveted Pirate of the Year Award, Pirate Captain and his oddball crew take on the cream of the pirating crop - Black Bellamy, Peg Leg Hastings and Cutlass Liz - in a race to pillage the most booty. They soon cross paths with lovelorn scientist Charles Darwin, who persuades the Captain that the crew's prized 'parrot', Polly, could be the answer to the 'untold riches' they are searching for. Their adventure takes them to Victorian London where they meet Darwin's sidekick 'man-panzee' Mister Bobo, and the notorious pirate-hating Queen Victoria herself. It soon unfolds that Darwin's motives for helping the crew are not what they seem, and the Queen has an evil hidden agenda of her own. The Pirate Captain must choose between basking in the glory of being crowned Pirate of the Year, or staying faithful to his trusted crew. Written by
"The Pirates! Band of Misfits" was just named as nominee for Best Animated Feature. And, after seeing it, I can understand why--though I doubt if it will end up taking the award. We'll see and I'll have to update my review if the unexpected occurs and it takes home the golden statue. Frankly, despite the gorgeous animation, I am pretty surprised it was nominated as it was a rather significant flop here in the States.
When the film begins, you can immediately see why it was nominated--the film is absolutely gorgeous. Now that's saying a lot considering the wonderful films that have come out of Aardman Studio in the past. Not only the Wallace and Grommit films but films like "Chicken Run" have wowed audiences. Think about it---just about everything you see in this film is done using traditional stop-motion. And this is not stop-motion like King Kong, but amazing 3-D worlds which seem real and the sets must have been incredible to build. You can't help marveling as you watch the film.
As far as the story goes, it's a mixed bag. While I enjoyed it quite a bit, much in the film will go right over the head of kids--kids who have no idea what leprosy, the elephant man, Charles Darwin, naturists (nudists), dodos and many other inside jokes are. For this reason, many kids might be rather bored with the film. Reasonably well-read adults, however, should have a good laugh provided they are the types who like animation--and that certainly does make the film's audience a bit small.
Overall, it's a simply gorgeous film and the man-hours it took to make it are absolutely staggering. It's really nice to see a non-CGI film get recognized (yes, the film has a tiny bit of CGI--but most of what you see what hand-animated). But, the story, though quite funny and clever, is a bit strange and likely to leave some a bit flat. I liked it, however, and as usual, I can't wait to see more from this wonderful studio. And, although I have not seen "Frankenweenie", I do think it's the best of the nominees. And, it is conveivable that "The Pirates!" could win simply because the other films are all CGI (and perhaps taking votes from each other).
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