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.