Dodo Want A Cracker? The Critic Reviews Pirates! (Blogger Duo!)

So today has a special treat for you. My brother (and the rest) are visiting and being a writer himself we decided to do two reviews on the same film. Maybe they’ll have the same view, maybe not. First will be mine, but continue down to find my brother’s opinion and a link to his own blog, check it out. He’s a more cynical (and male) version of me. Enjoy!

Aardman have had a soft place in my heart for a number of years. Being fascinated with the skill and patience (mainly amazed at the patience) I have watched the many Wallace and Gromit episodes over the years, and their repeats at Christmases, as well as Chicken Run which was an awesomely creative and funny film. This reputation has left me with a rather high expectation of the Aardman employees. Wallace & Gromit and the Were-Rabbit as a second big hit of a motion picture was equally funny, very self-aware, and a movie that was just as funny for adults as it was kids. For example, “Kiss my Arrrrrrrrrrtichoke”!

My reason for going to see The Pirates! An Adventure with Scientists was actually for my 57-year-old growing-up-disgracefully father. He adores Wallace and Gromit, loved Pirates of the Caribbean, and in general likes kids comedy, so it made sense to go as a family. I was looking forward to the innocent comedy and self-awareness of Aardman, which the trailer at least alluded too, plus to be able to release my own childish nature within the dark anonymity of a cinema.

Would I see it again? Mmmmmm maybe not. This came as a sad surprise to me and I wasn’t even sure why when the lights came up. Below are a few of my thoughts about the movie as a whole. Hopefully it is somewhat useful to those who haven’t seen it.

Pros

  1. Cute and pretty original. Aardman still have the innocent quality and despite remaking a very common story theme it added nice little pieces which made it different from other ferocious (or not) pirates. The nice band of slightly pathetic pirates made them easily likeable, and the woman dressed up as a man made it a bit more relatable to the tomboy within me.
  2. Detail of every scene. As with everything Aardman every piece of every scene is full of witticisms and amusing images. From wanted posters claiming “a free pen” to “Don’t feed the paupers” to “I love Ham” to the motto of the Royal Society of Science “Playing God since 1464”. Those little bits just made it all so much cleverer and more skilled.
  3. The little things that I haven’t known to be made into jokes. My favourite of these was a conversation about a sea monster being in the way of their route on their way to London. It is pointed out this might just be for decoration, which comes as a surprise to Pirate Captain, and turns out to be wrong as the entire ship is swallowed and then spat out.

Cons

  1. Funny but not laugh out loud. As I’ve said there were funny parts and clever skills shown, but through all of it there wasn’t a burst of laughter through the cinema, there was nothing that made your stomach hurt from gasping for breathe through your giggles, and actually nothing I now remember as a really memorable joke that I would repeat to my friends.
  2. The general feeling that you could tell where it was going. Now don’t get me wrong, there is often this problem with a lot of movie’s and I tend to enjoy predicting where it’s going, or “who dun it?” However, when the idea is pretty clear to everyone it kind of takes the fun out of it.. maybe I’m just someone who likes the chase a bit more than the answer.
  3. The fact that even the kids in the cinema weren’t giggling all that much. When a children’s film is so targeted at it’s audience that the parent’s don’t laugh, it’s forgiveable, even if the parents are somewhat annoyed and bored by the end. What is sad is when you don’t hear children laughing in a children’s film. There were a few titters but nothing substantial. This might say the most about the film as a whole. It’s shame but a truthful one.

So all in all, not an awful film, just not as great as my expectations wanted it. Maybe next time Aardman? I’ll be there waiting.

Rating: 2/5

~*~

Featherweight Puncher: Reviewing Pirates! Band Of Misfits

So we saw Pirates today. A while ago I heard that Pirates Of The Caribbean, a more convoluted and serious cousin to Pirates! Band Of Misfits, would revive the pirate genre – evidently then, the preluding films to the first of Jack Sparrows adventures killed that particular fantasy. Or maybe there is only so much you can say about pirates beside ‘arrgh’ – although ironically, watching this latest Pirate film, with Hugh Grantas the protagonist, gave me a few, piratey ideas.

But anyway, Pirates! Band Of Misfits is about a certain Pirate Captain named Captain Pirate, and his crew of oddities, including oddly curvacious pirate, diseased albino pirate and polly, the ship ‘parrot’, or more specifically, about Captain Pirate’s epic quest… to win the Pirate Of The Year award. The problem is, in terms of glory and booty, he’s a crap pirate. His selection of ships to attack is terrible, his map understanding flawed, and his brains, as with many protagonists, are also on the wrong side of miswired. But then, he stumbles across a remarkable man, who in turn makes a remarkable discovery that could reverse the fortunes of Pirate Captain’s crew.
Seeing as I just saw the thing about the pen, the film is definitely one of those
worth seeing twice for the posters alone.
First of all, Pirates is a very pretty movie, as is the long and proud tradition for movies of the plasticene type. It is a vision of a Victorian world realized to it’s prettiest extent, in the personal manner that even Pixar, kings of the animation, struggle to match even at their best, and the feel is no different here. From dreary London to piratey Blood Island there is not a moment of attention to detail spared to the personality of the place. Make no mistake, plasticene films are the prettiest, and the likes of 2012 can just shove it.
Sadly, it’s at the humour where the film falls down, which is disappointing. Call me insane (and my ‘comedic’ scrips are nothing but), but the films humour punches like a featherweight, thus explaining the title of this review. It is earnest about it’s jokes, it tries hard, and it is a funny film, which brings a smile to the face. But the laugh out loud moments are a little too rare, for all the smile worthy moments.
If you were to compare to something like Flushed Away for example, another plasticene film but about sewer rats, Flushed Away genuinely hits home with jokes where Pirates! Band Of Misfits doesn’t. Perhaps this is where the backing crew makes a difference. Flushed Away has the most hilarious of various types of slug that inhabit the sewers, wheras plenty of the characters in Pirates seem to be there simply for Hugh Grant as Pirate Captain to bounce off. Hugh Grant does a fine job, almost unrecognizable from the start as this timid pirate captain, but there needed to be more from the other characters who also had potential. His second in command (forgotten the name, of course) is a bystander, while diseased albino is just another pirate. Cuvacious pirate, while used sometimes, is another relative bystander. Most of the humor in the film is elsewhere, in the events you could say. You could also say that this is a critical mistake.
In the end it was a disappointment. But that said, it is still a heartfelt film, one to make you smile. For lighthearted humor it is decent, for just light heartedness outright, it’s a good film. It’s just doesn’t win out when compared to other plasticenes – Flushed Away, Mary and Max, Chicken Run perhaps – all better for the laughs. So this has to earn a fairly average 6.5 out of 10. It’s all about Captain Pirate – but beyond him there isn’t a whole lot happening.
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