Brilliant British humour and claymation in The Pirates! Bands of Misfits trailer

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These days, CGI-animated films are a dime a dozen. Pretty much every major studio has their own animation division or production/distribution agreement with animation companies scattered around the globe. Stop-motion animation, however, remains the territory of a select few, with the last notable movies released in this style being 2009’s Coraline and Fantastic Mr Fox.

There’s something special about stop-motion though. It may not be as slick looking as computer-generated imagery, but much like a hand-written letter, you notice and appreciate the human touch (literally) involved in its creation. It’s been made with love… and a helluva lot of patience.

Well, 2012 sees the latest stop-motion release (with CGI enhancements, admittedly) from Aardman Animations, arguably the most famous claymation studio in the world thanks to their Oscar-winning Wallace and Gromit shorts and feature film. They also of course gave the world Chicken Run and, most recently, Arthur Christmas, which was done in a CGI-simulation of their Plasticine character style.

Arthur Christmas was my hands-down favourite animated film of 2011 (criminally overlooked at this year’s Oscars!), so I naturally have high expectations for Aardman’s next: The Pirates! Band of Misfits.

Based on the first 2 of Gideon Defoe’s The Pirates! series of comical novels, The Pirates! Band of Misfits centres on the hopelessly incompetent Pirate Captain (voiced by Hugh Grant) and his equally reject, but loyal, crew – saddled with names like The Albino Pirate, The Pirate with a Scarf and The Surprisingly Curvaceous Pirate). A laughing stock amongst his peers, the Pirate Captain nonetheless has his sights set on the coveted Pirate of the Year award. This will pit him against his arch-nemeses, Black Bellamy (Jeremy Piven), and Cutlass Liz (Salma Hayek)… but also bring him into contact with a young Charles Darwin (David Tennant). Meanwhile, Queen Victoria (Imelda Staunton) is on a mission to exterminate piracy once and for all.

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Some other top British names supplying voices for The Pirates! include Martin Freeman, Brendan Gleeson, Lenny Henry, booming Brian Blessed and Ashley Jensen.

What’s also of particular interest is the Wikipedia description of the first Pirates! book:

The book is not aimed at children, and much of the humour relies on an adult appreciation of cliché and irony, though children may well enjoy it.

If you’ve watched any of the deliciously witty and distinctly British Aardman films, you’ll know this description sounds like the perfect match for the studio’s sensibilities (also, check out The Pirates! international trailer for further proof of this fact). I’m sure I’m not alone when I admit I’ll take dialogue-driven humour and frames stuffed with clever sight gags any day over laughs reliant on body functions, snarky comments and slapstick clumsiness (The Lorax trailer anyone?)

My expectations are high then for The Pirates! Band of Misfits, screening in 3D. The film opens in Britain on 28 March and in North America on 27 April. The film releases in South Africa halfway between both dates, on 13 April.

Last Updated: February 29, 2012

Noelle Adams

Sometime Tomb Raider. Full-time Pop Culture fanatic and Geekaissance Woman. Most often spotted outputting Pop Culture opinion pieces, writing fanfic and original genre fare, cosplaying and bringing the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu smackdown. Editor of the Comics and Toys section.

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