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Feature FilmTalkback

“The Pirates! Band of Misfits” Talkback

Man, I can’t wait to see this film (I’ll be seeing it at an ASIFA-Hollywood screening tomorrow). It opened today to great reviews: Manohla Dargis of The New York Times calls it “a curiosity cabinet of visual pleasures”, while Kenneth Turan of The Los Angeles Times says its “a clever piece of business that is a complete pleasure to experience”.

How about you? This talkback thread is open only to those who have actually seen the film (your comment will be deleted if we detect you haven’t seen it – and we can tell). Tell the world what you think in the comments section below.

  • Jay

    Loved this film! I saw it a few weeks back in the UK and thought it was very interesting and entertaining. I had really high expectations going in and they were most certainly met. I can’t say that they were exceeded, but I’m not even sure if that was possible given how excited I was going in.

    The overall scale of the sets and film in general was very impressive and yet it kept the very personal and hand-made feel of stop-motion. The animation was top-notch, with clever acting choices and believable characters all around.

    My only complaint was that it left me wanting more and I know that I will have to wait a while for Aardman to release there next film!

    • Jay


      I’m correcting myself on that typo.

  • ehi

    I’ve seen it in Italy, where is already in theatres.
    I was a little bit disappointed. Aesthetically beautiful, excellent animations, but fairly predictable humor and plot. I’ve always been a fan of Aardman but it lacks some of their magic touch. I’m curious to hear other opinions.

  • Mike

    I thought it was terrific! The humor and feel was Aardman doing what it does best, and the detail in the sets and characters and the animation were all hugely impressive.

    I’d say it doesn’t quite reach the lofty bar of Wallace and Gromit or Chicken Run in terms of entertainment, but considering the latter is up there with Fantastic Mr. Fox as one of my favorite stop-motion films of all time, I think I can forgive that. This movie is well worth seeing for anyone who cares for claymation or any of Aardman’s past work.

  • Dan Leon

    Aardman has delivered again with The Pirates! Band Of Misfits, and it really drives home the point for me that it’s the only studio out there that can truly rival Pixar.

  • Bud

    Amazing. I had such a great time at the movies! MORE!

  • Sarah J

    I saw the movie, it was hilarious and I really enjoyed it. I do have a growing appreciation for stop-motion animation, and this movie looked particularly good. Had so many sets with LOTS of detail. I highly recommend the movie for both kids and adults.

  • Jessie

    Charming and fun! Beautiful animation .. the story wasn’t necessarily super special, but they approached it in such a fun and light hearted way, you don’t really mind. It definitely left me wanting more.
    And I know it wasn’t PC, but I’m annoyed they had to change the leper joke! It was my biggest laugh in the trailer!
    Kind of a Monty Python/Hitchhiker’s Guide sensibility .. love it! :)

  • Anthony D.

    Had a blast! Absolutely loved this movie! Then again, I’m not surprised; it’s from the company that brought us Wallace and Gromit. :P

    I plan (and hope) to see this movie again with my uncle.

  • Kevin

    I thought it was a great deal of fun – loved the gags and the Aardman humor. Animation was absolutely fantastic and they did a really good job of marrying the stop-mo with the CG elements. I could see people complaining about the pace and easiness of the story, but it was enjoyably simple and made way for lots of humor.

  • 4er

    i saw pirates last year at a test screening at sony, and they actually changed the end of the movie to an idea i pitched!! this film is absolutely gorgeous, fun, witty and fresh. i think it has a good running for an oscar this year. everyone needs to see it, spread the word!

    • Rufus

      What was last year’s idea I wonder?

  • Andrew Kiesweter

    I thought it was hilarious! Btw,what’s the next Aardman movie? I’d love to see a second Wallace & Gromit feature.

    • Nick Park is working on a feature thats NOT a Wallace and Gromit film. Apparently there is a Shaun the Sheep film in the works and W&G will return in some new footage for the BBC proms. We interviewed Peter Lord for our podcast and he said it was down to box office takings if there was a second Pirates movie, the story has been done.

    • Funkybat

      I love Wallace and Gromit, but I can’t blame Aardman for giving them a break for a while. They are the flagship franchise for Aardman, but the downside of that is that, for a lot of people stateside at least, they are the main/only thing Aardman is known for.

      Chicken Run was a decent hit, but that was over 10 years ago. Flushed Away really didn’t do it for most people, and Arthur Christmas was viewed by most Americans (if at all) as either a Sony Film, or just wasn’t recognized as belonging to any prominent animation studio. I’m hoping Pirates is a hit, and gets recognized as belonging to Aardman. They could use more “known properties” besides Wallace & Gromit.

  • Mike Caracappa

    Well, I had some problems with it which I’ll talk about in spoiler mode, but for an Aardman film it was an enjoyable ride, and it’s definitely worth checking out for the wonderful visuals and animation.


    My problems with the film primarily were that I didn’t feel a lot of the gags quite hit the mark. Some of it’s cute, but it’s not as sharp or hilarious as Curse of the Wererabbit or Chicken Run. I liked the supporting cast, but a part of me felt they weren’t really utilized to their fullest potential. Especially the girl in drag pirate, who comes off more as a one note gag than a fully developed character. A few of the other pirates I felt the same way about. The climax of the film also peters out a bit and feels a little uneventful.

    And while they managed to keep most of the standard animated film cliches to a minimum, they couldn’t seem to avoid the obligatory “main character hits rock bottom and loses all his friends and his dignity” scene. I suppose it’s deemed necessary for the story, but it’s a tired cliche and a story point that seems to be used in practically every animated film. I’m sorry, but the writers of these films really need to come up with more innovative material than this.

    Lastly, and this is my biggest complaint…why the hell did they give away the sea monster gag in the trailer?? It’s the last gag in the film! I already knew it was coming because it was in the trailer. It was kind of frustrating to end the film on such a predictable note.


    While I thought the film could have been better, I did enjoy it and had a good time with it. And I think anyone who decides to see it will overall enjoy it too.

    • Zabbot

      I agree with most of your points. The story was limper than flimsy and the humor was tired and uninspired. The movie is a solid 3.5 out of 5 in my opinion. It could easily have been 4.5 if only Aardman had spent more time crafting story. The film is really just a series of tired gags sewn half-heartedly together. I didn’t hear much laughter from the audience the entire movie. The film’s humor didn’t seem to resonate with young or old.

      That said, the movie was still worth seeing in the theater for the visuals alone. The movie is absolutely beautiful. Which reminds me of one final gripe, Aardman should go back to using clay. The movie looks less hand crafted and as such loses a fair amount of the charm I’ve come to love and expect from the studio.

      Not disappointed (I delivered what the trailer promised) but also not pleasantly surprised.

  • Nic Orizaga

    I really enjoyed it…So did my kids…why aren’t there action figures??

  • Mac

    Saw it a few weeks ago here in the UK and loved it. I was a bit disappointed that one of the gags hit the cutting room floor like an arm in a leper colony, but luckily there are tons of other hilarious gags including many in the same jolly, though not strictly PC, spirit. In fact I’m surprised to see some comments saying that some of the jokes missed the mark – me and the large group of friends I saw it with were laughing throughout and they were still talking about how funny it was next time I saw them. We were surprised to see it get away with U rating and not a PG.

    My only criticism of the film of the film, and in agreement of Mike Caracappa’s comment above was the “main character hits rock bottom and loses all his friends and his dignity” scene. When that bit rolled out I couldn’t help buy think “Oh, so they’re going here”. Luckily the rest of the film more than made up for it, including all the stuff the Pirate Captain had to do to reclaim his friends and dignity.

    Other than that I thought the film was great and if anything seemed a bit too short. I’d have liked to have spent a bit more time with the Pirates. Hopefully, it there’s a sequel, it will build on the first and we’ll get to see a bit more of some of the Pirate Crew who seemed like really fun characters, but only had minor roles in this one.

    • Zabbot

      It’s interesting that you guys found it so funny. The audience I saw it with didn’t really laugh once the entire movie. There was some occasional sporadic laughter from some members of the crowd but the movie never got the whole crowd laughing. I believe I laughed one time.

      Still let me reiterate, the story and humor were weak, but the movie’s visuals more than justify the cost of admission and a large popcorn!

      • Mac

        I guess it’s just a case of of different people finding different things funny. Many animated movies have a lot of entertaining scenes I enjoy, but only a few moments that really make me laugh out loud. Pirates! had a whole lot of gags and funny stuff (both visual and verbal which I won’t spoil here) and had the cinema laughing along throughout. In terms of good, proper belly laughs, it’s easily one of the funniest animated films out there – to me at least.

  • Richard Gadd

    I loved it – though as others say some of the characters were decidedly under utilised. The Pirate Captain himself though was such a great character. Definately a keeper

  • Mike Adair

    I thoroughly enjoyed this film! Usually, when I’m appreciating detail or special effects it means the movie isn’t quite delivering but not in this case. I was able to geek out over the sets and animation without coming out leaving the story.

    I’m actually glad the secondary characters were more of a unit and not fleshed out too much. There’s already so much to take in – it didn’t get muddled in too many side stories. I really liked Martin Freeman for #2.

    And I know it could be overused but bringing the hero down works here.

  • CVG

    I really enjoyed it! In a moment where feature animations are starving for something that’s NOT a sequel or retread of something we are already familiar with, this movie was a refreshing piece! A solid original film with humor that doesn’t get dumbed down to slow-mo gags and fast zoom-ins. It’s a humor that flows into the piece subtly and into the details! Haha in fact the more you watch the story the funnier it becomes because you “find” the jokes and start to laugh at what you saw and it may not be blatantly in your face about it. Also the pirate captain was such a great character…you feel for him, you root for him, and when things get tight you cringe with him, truly good character acting. And MAN I absolutely loved that dodo bird :) it was so cute and charming haha such a scene stealer whenever it showed up imo. Great film and I want to see it again because I KNOW I missed a lot in all the details and sets, you can tell there was so much dedication put into that.

  • JM Walter

    I saw it on Tuesday, did it open in Colombia before than in the US?.

    Well I thought the sets and environments were beyond charming, the lighting and the mood, but then again the humor and the story tend to get to cliché and predictable.

  • It’s great fun and fantastic animation!!!! Don’t miss it!!

  • michael

    i understand that the animation style and the studio are relevant/exciting etc., but i’m shocked not to see a single comment on the source material. have none of you read any of the pirates! books? in the uk release this film’s name is pirates! in an adventure with scientists, named for the book by gideon defoe that it’s based on.

    if the gags don’t come off completely in the film, i’m not too surprised. i imagine it’s a difficult task to adapt a book that makes you laugh out loud to another medium. anyone who even remotely enjoyed the film should definitely check out the books. they’re absolutely hilarious.

    • anonymous

      They changed the title of this film for that exact reason, audiences in other parts of the world aren’t familiar with the books.

    • Mr. James

      I was about to ask if anyone had read the series that saw the film and how it translated to the big screen. I was also disappointed that they changed the name and was confused when the trailers started showing the revised title. I have read all of the series and they ARE hilarious. Highly predictable but when the author wrote the first one on a bet it’s highly unlikely that he was taking very seriously and it remains highly fun because of that fact.

  • what_in_the_cel

    I could stare at the Aardman sets and details forever and this one definitely didn’t fall short. In fact I’d say this may be their most decorated film yet. I liked the jokes, very Aardman…safe for kids and enough for adults to not get bored. But I will say ever since the chase sequence in the Wrong Trousers, I have yet to be “wowed” by the action scenes. Don’t get me wrong, it still lives up to hi standards, but I don’t feel like they are pushing the medium anymore, maybe just coasting on a nicely elevated plateau. I’d like to see the humor pushed a bit more and the sight gags less kiddie and predictable. That’s actually a very good word for this film, predictable. Nothing in there to outdo themselves with, but they still maintain the level of awesome detail they are known for. The story was meh and I really wanted more character development. I think in the end as good as it was it felt very monotone and lacking an edge. Shows have gotten progressively better at being able to entertain adults while not talking down to kids at the same time. Something I think out-of-touch writers and execs tend to sour and kill the industry with.

    • I feel like the Wrong Trousers is still the highpoint for Aardman animation as well, though I’m always hopeful that they’ll top it. I saw Pirates a few weeks ago and was a bit disappointed to have enjoyed it less than the Chicken Run. It looks amazing, and was well animated but I felt like the “pirate of the year award” was a bit of a lame concept to hang the whole story on (I’d be curious to know if that was something from the book it was based on or something that they added to try and give the story a bit more structure?). I guess another factor is that both Wallace & Gromit and Chicken Run animation was a really obvious choice, where as Pirate films can be (and have been) done in live action a lot. I did enjoy the film but it wasn’t the new best thing ever by Aardman that I was hoping for.

      • Haven’t watched Pirates! It doesn’t open in Spain until next month, but I agree about The Wrong Trousers. Not even Curse Of The Wererabbit topped it. Even Wallace and Gromit got a little more conventional as time goes by, including villains that are less specific than the penguin and love interests for both protagonists. Whether this is lack of fresh ideas or an attempt to get bigger audiences I’d really like to see them including surreal aspects and crazy plots even more often. I did like all of their films, except Chicken Run which was quite dull IMO. Whithout watching “Pirates!”, I think Curse Of The Wererabbit and Arthur Christmas are probably the stronger ones so far, followed by Flushed Away.

  • SpongeBorg

    Just saw it this morning at the ASIFA screening. Although I thought the animation and set detail were top notch overall it left me not so enthused. My problem was that for some reason I didn’t particularly care about the characters.


    The pirate captain seemed actually pretty adept at his pillaging and pirate related activities so the concept that he was this big inept loser didn’t really work for me. I agree with the comment above regarding under utilizing the lady pirate.

    I did get a couple of chuckles and overall the film looked great. I wish Aardman nothing but success but for me there were a few moments that felt inconsistent (like where one pirate gets stabbed in the back but then re-appears good as new later). For some reason it felt a bit like a Dreamworks film to me but perhaps that was due to the insertion of the Clash song and instances using pop music.

  • Tom

    I enjoyed it. Not Aardman’s strongest film, but well done all the same.

    One thing that really annoyed me was some of the American casting for the film. The albino pirate is voiced by Anthon Yelchin in the American version, but in the British rendition, he’s voiced by Russell Tovey. They should have stuck with Tovey for the American version; Yelchin’s delivery was terrible and ruined the jokes. Russel’s voice sounds way goofier and funnier, and definitely fits the character more.

    • Funkybat

      I’m annoyed to hear they recast some of the voice actors for the stateside release. It’s frustrating that some people think Americans won’t accept Brits or other foreigners for voice acting roles, unless the role demands the character be “English.” Besides, even in the U.S., people expect pirate characters to sound vaguely British!

  • Glowworm

    Overall, not a bad movie–definately enjoyable–but not perfect.
    I felt that some of the pirates needed their personalities fleshed out a bit more–aside from Number 2 and the Pirate Captain, most of his crew seemed to be little more than clever jokes–and I was hoping for the obviously disguised female pirate to reveal herself at some point in the movie–which sadly never happened.

    In fact, a lot of my boyfriend and my laughs came from our own nerdy outside information. David Tennant voices Charles Darwin–he’s best known as the 10th Doctor in Doctor Who–and in one episode he actually met Queen Victoria. (So naturally we were chuckling when Darwin mentioned that he really wanted to meet the Queen)
    Also, I laughed at Darwin’s disgust of the Queen’s love for eating rare animals–since the real Darwin was actually guilty of doing the same exact thing.

    Anyhow–the best character besides the adorable Polly, was the equally adorable Mr.Bobo, Darwin’s chimp butler who “spoke” through speech cards.

  • Brittany

    Definitely worth the watch!

    I went to the Q and A session with Peter Lord in Chicago and it was wonderful. He seemed really excited about it and his trade.

    The details are amazing, and I highly enjoyed the visual humor throughout the film. It had a bit of a odd plot line, but I still highly enjoy and recommend this film. I can’t wait to add it to my DVD collection!

  • Tom Burkert

    I loved the film…definitely the best animated film of the year so far. I’m curious to find out how Al Roker, a local NYC weatherman got one of the voice roles. The animation was rich and inventive. I loved seeing Darwin and other historical figures played for laughs. I personally liked it more than the Wallace and Gromit shorts.

  • Just saw the film tonight and it was great as expected. The story was maybe a bit weak and there weren’t as many laugh out loud moments as I would like but it was genius, especially visually. In fact the best jokes were all visual based and served to show off how clever the studio is.

  • joe

    This is Aardman’s 2nd best feature length film, after Chicken Run. Unlike Chicken Run, there’s no real drama here, and the story is just an excuse for us to laugh at the Pirate Captain and the rest. It’s a funny story but has a very dry, British sense of humor. At times I wasn’t sure if the jokes were just going over everyone else’s heads, or if they just weren’t funny to anyone else. I recommend the movie but don’t expect any great story, just sit back and enjoy the jokes.

    • …what? Aren’t you forgetting “Wallace and Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit” here? That was Aardman’s best animated feature by far… and I think its story was more unique than both Chicken Run and Pirates.

  • James E.Parten

    Chuckles and I saw this film at a regular 4:45 showing, to an unfortunately small house.

    Laughs are there, and are plentiful for those with a good deal of cultural literacy. If a person is into the drier type of British with (no, we’re not talking about Benny Hill here!), he or she will get most of the jokes in this picture–those that don’t just go whizzing on by (to be caught when the film comes out on DVD a few months from now).

    The one “Downer” point in the plot has already been touched upon by Mike C. above. Otherwise, great fun was had with many of the tropes of pirate pictures, old and new.

    Casting was good, with Chuckles wondering if it was John Cleese as the Pirate Captain. (Hugh Grant, actually!) And Imelda Staunton had a high old time as Queen Victoria, leaving dental impressions all over the elaborate scenery.

    A few shots even struck legally-blind me as jerky, but this is the nature of the stop-motion beast.

    A worthy way to go to a theater, exercise one’s funny bone, and spend an enjoyable eighty-eight minutes.

  • chris

    I thought this was a wonderful film to echo many sentiments above. I work in CG animation and even that seems old hat to the true creativity of stop-motion. Film 101 can ruin film enjoyment for some people like me but I will NEVER tire of watching a stop-motion epic and Aardman once again proved they are top of the heap. I guess because I don’t know how it’s really done gives me that sense of magic on screen. A friend was on this film for 3.5 years and told of no final ending til the end of production, CG previs, live action film reference, hybrid compositing, 40 sets going non-stop and coming in under their $60MM budget. Bravo!

  • chris

    I do wish America got the Original Title: The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists! Much more Bravado.

  • Nancy Beiman

    I loved the visuals and the animation, but found the story much too slight for a feature.
    This would have been better as a series of short films.

    • Brian Oakley

      I completely agree Nancy! Glad to see your post here.

  • I saw it with my 5 year old daughter and we both loved it. I’m a long-time Aardman fan – their films have an inimitable style and character, a welcome exception when most big-budget animated productions look and sound largely interchangeable. I liked how little they compromised their essential style (and Britishness) for international audiences.

    As with all Aardman films, the story is inconsequential, and doesn’t pretend to be anything but. It’s just scaffolding for non-stop gags, in both dialogue and visuals. It wasn’t quite in the league of the best Wallace & Gromit (Were-rabbit, Wrong Trousers), but I’m pleased at how well they did with new material and characters.

    Again, with Aardman characters being “under-developed” is kind of missing the point — often the fun is reading more into what has been left out, such as Gromit’s infinitely expressive eyebrows, echoed in the relationship between the Dodo and the Captain in this film. I’d go as far as saying the fact that the “surprisingly curvaceous pirate” is not developed further in the story (probably with some trite equal-opportunity message) is clever humour-by-omission. Some of the best gags in film have this anti-climactic quality, such as “Blood Island — so called because it’s in the shape of some blood.”

    I know I’m going to enjoy re-watching it on DVD to catch all the little details I missed. (I still occasionally discover new things in Were-rabbit.)

  • Zac

    Got a chance to see this movie over the weekend and I really liked it. I’m usually a big fan of British humor, but previous Aardman films always fell kind of flat for me. I thought the story here just chugged along and never got slow. Fun characters, amazing sets. I liked it a lot.

  • Overall fantastic film: great characters, great story, very funny, gorgeous animation and that trademark Aardman wit that makes me proud to be British.

    I just hope this one gets some attention in the US…

  • This was easily the best animated film I have seen in a while. Each frame was so packed with detail; the designs were amazing. I would love to see some of the concept sketches. Going to check around to see if there is an art book.

    The Flight of the Concords guys having a song in the score was a nice touch.

    The only disturbing thing is that they changed the title for the US distribution…

  • TK

    Brilliant craftsmanship from Aardman as always, but I personally found it hard to watch especially that I grew up in the culture that it’s still a taboo to ridicule monarchy. Also, film’s title is simply too vague and generic, and it didn’t raise any excitement or enthusiasm to see the film. I really want to like this film but I think Aardman could’ve done better if they found that room for improvement and went for it.

    • Ergo

      Well, the real title was “The Pirates! in an Adventure with Scientists”

      It was foolish of Sony to change it to something so generic.

      • I’m afraid “The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists” still sounds generic—and far clunkier.

        The original book series’ conceit is that it’s set up like a spoof of generic food labels, where the characters are simply “The Pirates” featuring “The Pirate Captain,” “The Albino Pirate,” etc. instead of giving anyone a real name. I think the books succeed in spite of this, not because of it.
        I don’t think there was any way a US release could have gone big unless marketing either disguised this point, or relentlessly made fun of it. It did neither, and unfortunately for Aardman, I think we’re seeing the results now.

  • Galen

    My 11-year-old son and I thought the film was hilarious. Wonderful character designs, and interesting how they managed to feel like “Aardman” without looking like “Nick Park”.

    It did occur to me about halfway through how slight the story was, but that was almost a relief, truly. No heartstring-tugging, no big lessons learned, just fun and funny.

    I did wonder though if they had any trouble with the Darwin estate…Darwin’s behavior in the film was a bit shady in places!

    • Sarah J

      Considering some people like to portray Darwin as some god-hating, Satan-loving, baby-eating monster, I don’t think his estate would be too concerned with a movie painting him as a guy who desperately wants to get laid.

  • Sarah J

    I shouldn’t be TOO surprised the movie hasn’t done well, but when I went to see it, there was a good-sized crowd and judging by their laughter, they too seemed to think the movie was hysterical. I wonder if this movie can be saved in the US by word-of-mouth?

    • Galen

      Well, let’s give it a try!

  • Finally saw it today. I had wanted to see Aardman return to claymation (Plasticimation?) features. I really liked the Golden-Age-“SpongeBob” humor (and when I say Golden-Age, I mean before Season 4 and the movie) and Popeye shout-out. Bottom line: I kinda miss the charm of the old Wallace and Gromit shorts, especially “The Wrong Trousers”.

  • Richard

    Especially loved Mr. Bobo.

  • “I say huzzah to this film! She may not be perfect, or be as memorable as her older stop-motion siblings, but this little misfit is still good enough to see with your family for a round of hardy laughs.”

    Read my full review at: http://moo-cartoon.blogspot.ca/2012/05/pirates-band-of-misfits-review.html

  • Pat

    There were some great gags throughout, of the sort that only work in animation. Also, the constant chasing of medals and awards is a perfect plot for today’s audience.

    The thing that bugged me, though, was the entirely naturalistic sea and sky. I can understand why Aardman would choose to do water in CG instead of in polymer, but why didn’t they make it match the look and feel of the sets? Every time a carefully rendered wave, with each attendant bubble, would break, it took me out of the otherwise coherent stop motion world.