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MOVIE INFO

Director:
Peter Lord, Jeff Newitt
Cast:
Hugh Grant, Jeremy Piven, Salma Hayek, Martin Freeman, Imelda Staunton, David Tennant, Lenny Henry, Brian Blessed, Anton Yelchin, Brendan Gleeson
Writing Credits:
Gideon Defoe

Tagline:
Laugh your booty off.

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!

Box Office:
Budget
$55 million.
Opening Weekend
$11.137 million on 3358 screens.
Domestic Gross
$31.051 million.

MPAA:
Rated PG

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English Descriptive Audio Service
French DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English
Spanish

Runtime: 88 min.
Price: $39.99
Release Date: 8/28/2012

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Director Peter Lord, Co-Director Jeff Newitt and Editor Justin Krish
• “So You Want to Be a Pirate!” Short Film
• “Pirate Disguise” Dress-Up Game
• “From Stop to Motion” Featurette
• “Creating the Bath Chase Sequence” Featurette
• Peter Lord Short Films
• Previews
• DVD Copy


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


The Pirates! Band Of Misfits [Blu-Ray] (2012)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 22, 2012)

Before its release, I thought 2012’s The Pirates! Band of Misfits looked like a probable hit. After all, it mixed animation and pirates, two concepts that seem to sell pretty well. It also received gobs of promotion; I felt like I saw the film’s trailer roughly 203 times before the movie finally made it to screens in April.

Maybe everyone else saw that promo so much that it killed off interest, or maybe kids don’t like Aardman’s bug-eyed style of stop-motion animation. Whatever the reason, Misfits fizzled at the US box office, where it made a weak $31 million.

Even though I did get sick of that trailer, I still thought the movie looked like it could be fun, so I decided to give the Blu-ray a spin. Set in 1837, we meet the otherwise unnamed Pirate Captain (voiced by Hugh Grant). With fun events like “Ham Nite”, the Captain inspires loyalty from his crew, but he doesn’t get much respect from his peers.

As such, he desires to win the “Pirate of the Year” award, a prize that’s eluded him for more than 20 years. However, he faces ample competition from showier rivals like Peg Leg Hastings (Lenny Henry), Black Bellamy (Jeremy Piven) and Cutlass Liz (Salma Hayek).

In the meantime, the various pirates encounter increased pressure from the British Navy. They enjoy supremacy pretty much everywhere, but pirates still control the seas around the Indies. Queen Victoria (Imelda Staunton) hates pirates and orders her forces to redouble their efforts against the brigands.

All that – and Charles Darwin (David Tennant), too!

Now that I’ve seen Misfits, I wonder if it flopped in the US because it’s simply too British. Apparently American audiences don’t much warm to English animated flicks – at least not on a mass scale. After all, 2011’s Arthur Christmas - a flick that combined the “can’t miss” domains of animation and Christmas – barely made a dent at the US box office.

Perhaps that theory doesn’t really hold water, but I otherwise can’t find much reason for the American financial failure of Misfits, as I think it offers a tremendously fun animated experience. It manages to keep things moving at a borderline relentless pace but somehow avoids the sense that it’s busy or manic.

And that’s a pretty neat trick, one it achieves due to the subtlety of so much of its humor. Not that Misfits completely avoids broad humor, but it more fully embraces that particularly British style of dry comedy. That means a lot of small, borderline obscure jokes and gags mixed into the proceedings.

If you don’t enjoy the Monty Python sensibility, you’ll likely get little out of Misfits, but for those with a taste for that kind of humor, you should enjoy the material on display. Misfits comes jam-packed with little bits and pieces to produce mirth. There’s more comedy per square minute here than in most other flicks, and it all integrates surprisingly smoothly.

As mentioned, the project never seems busy or forced; it doesn’t break a sweat as it goes. Instead, it remains lively and amusing without any sense that it’s begging us for love. The gags feel natural and blend seamlessly.

It helps that Misfits comes with an excellent cast. Grant sounds like he’s having a blast as the semi-incompetent Captain, and all his cohorts display equal levels of delight. In particular, Staunton shows a great combination of stiffness, cruelty and humor as the Queen.

Maybe American audiences didn’t go for Misfits, but I did. The movie delivers a consistently delightful experience, with more laughs than probably any other comedy you’ll see this year. This is a fun, inventive and creative film.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture A/ Audio A-/ Bonus B

The Pirates! Band of Misfits appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. No problems marred this excellent presentation.

Sharpness seemed positive, as at all times, the movie remained detailed and concise. No examples of softness or ill-defined images appeared in this tight and firm presentation. Jagged edges and moiré effects appeared absent, and I noticed no signs of edge enhancement. In regard to print flaws, I witnessed none, as the movie looked clean and fresh from start to finish.

To fit its period setting, the movie came with a somewhat amber-influenced palette. That wasn’t an issue, as the tones seemed attractive and the colors consistently looked solid. Black levels looked solid, with appropriately dark and rich material. Low-light images were concisely displayed and tight, with no excessive opacity. Overall, Misfits gave us a stellar presentation.

The DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Misfits also seemed strong. As one might anticipate, scenes at sea offered the most involving soundscape. These created a nice sense of location, as elements of the setting formed around us. Action scenes offered solid pep and made positive use of the various speakers. General ambience was also fine in the quieter sequences.

Audio quality worked well. Speech was natural and distinctive, and effects sounded clear and accurate. Bass response provided good punch to louder scenes, and music was always vivid and lively. This was a solid “A-” soundtrack.

We get a good variety of extras. These begin with an audio commentary from director Peter Lord, co-director Jeff Newitt and editor Justin Krish. All three sit together for this running, screen-specific look at cast and performances, animation, story and characters, visual design, editing, animation, and some other areas.

Expect a fairly dry chat. The participants tend to stick with basics and don’t do a lot to make this an involving discussion. They also tell us what they love about the film too much of the time. While we get some decent insights, the commentary doesn’t relate enough to be above average.

For more animated fun, we get a new short film called So You Want to Be a Pirate! It lasts 18 minutes, seven seconds as it presents a “talk show” hosted by the Pirate Captain and his crew as they cover the basics of pirate behavior. I’m happy that the original actors reprise their roles, but the short doesn’t compare favorably with the feature film. While it throws out a few laughs, it’s not nearly as clever and delightful as the movie.

A “dress-up game” called Pirate Disguise offers a simple memory contest. It shows you a pirate done up in a certain outfit; you then need to jump around various options to make a match. It leaves the demo image up for quite a while and proves to be quite easy, but little kids might like it.

Two featurettes follow. From Stop to Motion runs 20 minutes, 52 seconds and we hear from Lord, Newitt, producer Julie Lockhart, writer Gideon Defoe, production designer Norman Garwood, character designer Jonny Duddle, head of story Rejean Bourdages, design sculptor Debbie Smith, puppet designers Kate Anderson and Andrew Bloxham, supervising art director Matt Perry, art director Phil Lewis, construction manager Mike Applebee, set dresser Kitty Clay, miniature glass maker Kim George, senior prop maker Damian Neary, head of props Jane Kite, graphic design supevisor Gavin Lines, lip sync animator Michael Green, animation supervisor Loyd Price, animation director Jay Grace, character lead animator Will Becher, animator Julia Peguet, director of photography Frank Passingham, visual FX supervisor Andy Morley, CG supervisors Chris King and Benjamin Toohood, FX supervisor Rod McFall, supervising sound editor Adrian Rhodes, dialogue editor Tim Hands, foley artist Sue Harding, composer Theodore Shapiro, and actors Hugh Grant, Martin Freeman and David Tennant.

The piece looks at the project’s development, production and character design, storyboards, making puppets, sets, and props, voice recording, aspects of animation, visual effects, audio and music. It offers a tight little encapsulation of all the technical areas and throws in plenty of behidn the scenes footage. These allow “Stop” to become a strong featurette.

Creating the Bath Chase Sequence goes for eight minutes, 22 seconds and features notes from Lord, Bourdages, Newitt, Shapiro, senior lighting camera Dave Alex Riddett, animators Todor Iliev, Richard Haynes and Jo Fenton, and motion control operator Willy Marshall. As expected, they let us know the details of how the “bath chase sequence” was brought to the screen. It’s a good view of the subject, and I continue to like the shots of the animation in progress.

Under Peter Lord Short Films, we get two pieces: 1996’s Wat’s Pig (11:25) and 1989’s War Story (5:27). Pig tells an essentially dialogue-free tale of two brothers separated in infancy, while Story takes an interview with Bill Perry about his World War II experiences and illustrates them with animation. Both are interesting, though Pig - a surprisingly dark piece – works better.

We can view both shorts with or without commentary from Lord. He tells us a little about the origins and creation of the films. Lord gives us a few good details, but don’t expect him to fill out the shorts; he chats for roughly the first three minutes of both and then vanishes. Still, a little commentary beats none.

The disc opens with ads for Swan Princess Christmas, Hotel Transylvania, and Arthur Christmas. These also pop up under Previews along with clips for The Smurfs and 12 Dogs of Christmas: Great Puppy Rescue. No trailer for Misfits shows up here.

A second disc provides a DVD Copy of Misfits. This delivers a regular retail version of the DVD.

Is it possible to dislike a movie in which we’re told that “in a straight fight, a shark would probably beat a Dracula” – and follows it with participation from Jane Austen and the Elephant Man? No, I don’t think it is. Subversive but not forced, the flick comes jampacked with one funny moment after another. The Blu-ray delivers excellent visuals and audio as well as a reasonable set of supplements. Misfits will probably go down as the most delightful and amusing animated flick of 2012, and this Blu-ray brings it home in fine fashion.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.4 Stars Number of Votes: 5
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main