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The Pirates, Band of Misfits is another in a long line of stop-motion (Claymation) titles from the wonderfully creative folks of Aardman Animation. You've probably seen previous works of theirs from the old Wallace & Gromit shorts right up to newer movies like Chicken Run and Curse of the Weir Rabbit. So if you've seen any of them, then you pretty much know what to expect here.

The stop-motion animation is superb as always though I found the overall storyline a bit lacking in depth. I can't quite put my finger on it, but somehow even though a lot of the individual scenes are quite funny and Hugh Grant did his usual high quality voice acting and there's the usual Aardman action; still the parts always seemed better than the whole some how. So I can't quite give it a ringing endorsement.

Still the kids should enjoy it as it's colourful and loud and waaaay over the top. But for parents, it may not have much long term rewatchability. At least that's how I find it personally. Your mileage may vary.

The bluray does look superb though and the audio track is a full 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio in both English and Quebecois French. There's also a DD 5.1 track in Spanish. As for extra's, there's a nice 20 min. short called "You want to be a Pirate" and a couple of smaller shorts as well. They're all very well done. Plus a very nice 20 min. documentary on how you make a stop motion movie (very labour intensive) and a shorter 8 min. piece on how they made the bathtub chase scene. Plus the usual assortment of trailers, etc.

5 stars for the superb animation, 4 for the DTS audio and 3 for the overall storyline.

J. A.
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THE PIRATES! IN AN ADVENTURE WITH SCIENTISTS! IN 3D [2012] [3D Blu-ray + 2D Blu-ray + ULTRAVIOLET] [UK Release] From the Creators of Chicken Run and Wallace & Gromit! Bursting With Fun and Packed Bursting With Gags! Let’s Go Plundering!

Set sail for a fun-filled voyage and 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 and Cutlass Liz, he sets his sights to win the coveted Pirate of the Year Award! With his trusted dodo, Polly and rag-tag crew at his side, the Pirate Captain will need to battle a diabolical queen, save a young scientist and never lose sight of what a pirate loves best: Adventure!

FILM FACT: Awards and Nominations: Nominated: Annie Awards for Best Animated Feature. Nominated: Character Animation in a Feature Production for Will Becher. Nominated: Production Design in an Animated Feature Production for Norman Garwood and Matt Berry. Nominated: Voice Acting in an Animated Feature Production for Imelda Staunton. Nominated: Screenplay in an Animated Feature Production for Gideon Defoe. European Film Awards: Nominated: Best Animated Feature Film. Visual Effects Society: Nominated: Outstanding Animated Character in an Animated Feature Motion Picture for Will Becher, Jay Grace and Loyd Price.

Voice Cast: Hugh Grant, Martin Freeman, Imelda Staunton, David Tennant, Jeremy Piven, Salma Hayek, Lenny Henry, Brian Blessed, Russell Tovey, Anton Yelchin, Brendan Gleeson, Ashley Jensen, Al Roker, Ben Whitehead, Mike Cooper, David Schneider, Tom Doggart, Sophie Jerrold, Sophie Laughton, Peter Lord, Kayvan Novak, David Schaal and Mitchell Mullen (Gameshow Host (voice) (uncredited)

Director: Peter Lord and Jeff Newitt (co-director)

Producers: David Sproxton, Julie Lockhart and Peter Lord

Screenplay: Gideon Defoe

Composer: Theodore Shapiro

Cinematography: Frank Passingham

Video Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Audio: English: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and English Audio Description Service

Subtitles: English, English SDH and Hindi

Running Time: 88 minutes

Region: All Regions

Number of discs: 1

Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment / Aardman Animations

Andrew's Blu-ray Review: Waiting for an Aardman Animations film requires patience and understanding. With the advent of computer-generated animation, the wait has been reduced which leaves cinema-goers in the enviable position of having had two released within 6 months of each other. ‘Arthur Christmas’ was a real treat for the wintery festive season, but now we have a fully-fledged “Claymation” film in the form of ‘The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists’ is based on the first of a series of books by Gideon Defoe, The Pirates! is the first clay-animated film from Aardman Animations since ‘Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit.’

The rowdy, boisterous buccaneers of ' The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists!' [2012] are the most civil and considerate bunch you'll ever meet. This cheerful crew of scallywags is an inexperienced ragtag group who really love Ham Night and don't quite possess the imagination for creating fearsome names for one another. The Albino Pirate [Anton Yelchin] and Pirate with Gout [Brendan Gleeson] are more like oddities than terrifying plunderers while Surprisingly Curvaceous Pirate [Ashley Jensen] works hard at remaining a mystery to others. The Pirate with a Scarf [Martin Freeman] is the loyal second in command with a very nice scarf indeed. About the most violent thing you'll ever see from them is a disagreement over the best part about pirating: the cutlasses or the looting.

They're a naïve but absolutely lovable lot who think the world of their captain, the conveniently named Pirate Captain [Hugh Grant], voiced with splendid charm by and always emotionally supportive when he's feeling low, which is apparently often. Rubbing his self-esteem the wrong way lately is the annual "Pirate of the Year" competition, which he's been coveting for probably over twenty years but always failed to win. His opponents are a frightful trio of outlaws, which includes, Black Bellamy [Jeremy Piven], Cutlass Liz [Salma Hayek] and Peg-Leg Hastings [Lenny Henry] who are far better in the fine arts of pirating than the poor Pirate Captain's entire crew. They even possess a flair for elaborate entrances with some of the most dramatic use of slow-motion we've in some time.

Our affable band of sea dogs may not be endowed with similar talents for theatricality, and even less for looting other ships roaming the Atlantic, but that's precisely what we like about them. Based on the first two books in The Pirates! adventure series by Gideon Defoe, who also adapted them for the big screen, these merry men of luxuriant beard admirers are a motley troop of outsiders amongst a multitude of outsiders. Their captain is the idealist, hopeful but generally misunderstood sort, a rather popular character type in many animated films of late, and dreams of being remembered as the greatest pirate that ever roamed the seas. To prove he has what it takes, his crew stumbles upon a chance meeting of Charles Darwin [David Tennant] and his amusingly clever "man-panzee." When Darwin explains the slightly-overweight, big-boned parrot Polly is in fact the last living dodo on the planet, the captain sees the opportunity for untold riches which would make him a shoe-in at the Pirate competition.

This is an underdog story of a different sort, a familiar tale told in another manner, seen it all before yet completely new and fresh. It's with pirates after all! We've never seen that now, have we? The ending is as clear as the edge of the horizon in sunset, but the voyage getting there is an absolute riot, pushed along with many misadventures involving a terrifically comical contest of scientists and a bathtub slide down several flights of stairs. There also the usual hard lessons learned for the little tykes, such as companionship, being part of a crew of pillages and plunderers, loving your inner pirate and realizing the sea-faring life is a joy all unto itself. Along the way, the Pirate Captain and his crew cross swords and exchange some very hurtful words with a scarily furious Queen Victoria [Imelda Staunton], who doesn't hide her discrimination of the pirates, at least.

‘The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists!' is set afloat by the fine “Claymation” artists at Aardman Animation, the same team best known for their stop-motion clay animation techniques, particularly those featuring Plasticine characters like Wallace and Gromit and the fantastic poultry adventure 'Chicken Run,' which as you know is now available on a on French Release Blu-ray disc. With this Aardman Animations and partnership with Sony Pictures Animation, the British studio brings their signature stop-motion clay animation style with remarkably striking detail, arresting the imagination with every character's fluid movement and a distinct uniqueness in each of their attire. Director and co-founder of Aardman Animations Peter Lord keeps the wit and humour high at all times, maintaining the frame as just the right distance for us see the emotional expressions on characters' face while also taking in the tiniest feature in the background. The animated screwball comedy is probably the best swashbuckling journey through science and history we've ever seen. To paraphrase one of the mates, this is the most educational pirating adventure yet.

Aardman Animations strikes gold again with ‘The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists.’ It perhaps lacks the overwhelming charm and fully explored character appeal of ‘Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit’ it is funnier and should have a far broader appeal. But with a great cast, a cracking soundtrack, including a cameo performance song by Flight of the Conchords, who are a New Zealand-based comedy band, composed of Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement no less, and so The Pirates! is fantastic good solid adventurous entertainment.

Blu-ray Video Quality – The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists,’ hoist the sails and set a course for 3D Blu-ray with a splendid 1080p encoded image that will mesmerise the eyes but not exactly enchant the imagination. The most impressive aspect of the image is a natural sense of depth throughout due largely to the style of the stop-motion animation. Several shots, generally those in daylight exteriors on the deck of the ship, display the foreground with clean separation, creating a believable three-dimensional space for the characters to move around in. Objects in the far distance penetrate deep into the background while several gimmick effects extend beyond the limits of the screen at the faces of viewers, especially the pirate flag with the springy eyes. Sadly, the 3D illusion isn't always consistent or that entirely immersive, not really adding much to the film's enjoyment. Several scenes are noticeably flatter than others, but for a majority of the time, dimensionality is impressively entertaining. Presented in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio, the picture displays flawless, spot-on contrast and clean, crisp whites, revealing remarkable razor-sharp clarity into the far distance. Black levels are inky rich and intense with precise gradational details throughout, from Black Bellamy's beard to the night skies with a full moon in the background. Low-lit interiors also show deep, dark shadows permeating the screen and adding a terrific three-dimensional feel to the video. The colour palette leans more towards the softer pastel hues, and they're rendered beautifully with bold warmth and a bright glow. Primaries also remain accurate and energetic from beginning to end. The talented blacksmiths at Aardman Animations have also supplied this animated vessel with striking details in every frame. Whether we're looking at the elaborate clothing of the pirates or the staring at each line in their glorious beards, the high-definition transfer exhibits stunning definition. The tiniest buildings on the tropical hills of Blood Island are as clear as those in those in the foreground. We can make out every individual brick, stone and store-sign amid the foggy streets of London. Inside Pirate Captain's quarters, each picture hanging on the filthy walls is visible while every stain, smudge and splotch smeared over the wooden planks making up the room as well as the ship is distinct and distinguishable. In the end, 'The Pirates!' is a bountiful feast for the eyes on this awesome Blu-ray 3D.

Blu-ray Audio Quality – For the audio aspect, the most civil pirates you'll ever meet dispense with the pleasantries and jump right into some brilliantly cheerful chanteys for the whole family to enjoy. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack is a mostly front-heavy affair but squeaky-clean with wide imaging and lots of amusingly subtle activity in the background. Dialogue is precise with clear intonation in the vocals, which quickly change from gleefully buoyant to frightful hysteria without missing a beat. Dynamic range is extensive and room-penetrating, providing distinct clarity to the swashbuckling action. Bass is mostly deep and impactful with excellent response, and a few scenes of explosions and rumbling exhibit great moments of powerful low-frequency effects. They're not dramatically intense, but fun nonetheless. The Rear speakers are for a majority of the movie's runtime silent, which is somewhat disappointing, but the occasional ambient effect keeps the lossless mix entertaining. However, the action sequences come with a few sounds which pan from the screen into the back of the room with fluid movement and appreciable directionality, nicely expanding the sound field and providing a couple bits of envelopment. The musical score of Theodore Shapiro and the several song selections make better use of the surrounds, spreading throughout the room and creating a more satisfyingly immersive experience. All in all, 'The Pirates!' pillage and plunder with agreeable rowdy mayhem on Blu-ray.

Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:

Audio Commentary: Commentary with Director Peter Lord, Co-director Jeff Newit and Editor Justin Krish: Director Peter Lord, Co-Director Jeff Newitt, and Editor Justin Krish deliver a rather dry commentary. It's informative and detailed, but not quite in tune with the light humour that dominates the movie. Discussions include characters and character design, technical details of the filmmaking process, the intricacies of the animation, and more.

Special Feature: Pirate Disguise Dress-Up Game [2012] [1080p] Players must "look for the example disguise and try to match each wacky ensemble before time runs out." Play is via the remote control's arrow buttons as users scroll through three options, head, torso and legs, to match the picture on the right.

Special Feature: From Stop to Motion [2012] [1080p] [20:52] A fascinating and detailed examination of the filmmaking process. The filmmakers discuss constructing the world around the characters, character design, penning the story, the animation process, crafting the puppets and building the miniature sets, the process of swapping mouths on puppets for accurate dialogue performances, voice acting sessions, live performance foundations, crafting the ship and placing it in a digital sea, assembling the sound effects, and crafting the music.

Special Feature: Creating the Bath Chase Sequence [2012] [1080p] [8:22] As the title suggests, it focuses on examination of the process of making one of the film's most complex action sequence, revealing the amount of time and work that goes into a single scene that only lasts about a minute. Best bits are seeing the animators at work.

3D Blu-ray Previews [1080p] Additional Sony Pictures Home Entertainment Titles that include ‘Hotel Transylvania,’ ‘Arthur Christmas,’ The Smurfs’ and ‘Cloudy with a Chance of Meat Balls.’

Finally, from Aardman Animations and the director Peter Lord of 'Chicken Run' comes the latest animated screwball comedy `The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists!' 3D Blu-ray from the brilliant and adventurous British Studio Aardman Animations about the most civil and considerate bunch of buccaneers you'll ever meet. With a terrific cast of voice talents behind each character, the film is a clever and witty swashbuckling adventure through science and history. The 3D Blu-ray of 'The Pirates!' arrives with an exceptional three-dimensional picture quality and an excellent audio presentation. With a healthy assortment of supplements that will entertain both young and old, the high-definition package is recommended for animation lovers everywhere and those hankering for more high-definition 3D goodness, you cannot go wrong with this comedy romp. Despite some critics have lambasted this brilliant funny animation, I personally love it and it gains my approval, especially the fantastic 3D eye popping animation, and if you are a massive fan of Aardman Animations like me, then you would miss out on something truly special and now it has been add to my ever increasing Aardman Animations Blu-ray Collection. Highly Recommended!

Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom
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on October 16, 2012
The Pirate Captain hopes to win the "Pirate of the Year" award this time around. His faithful crew--from the "Surprisingly Curvaceous Pirate" to the "Pirate with Gout"--think he has a decent chance. His competition is stiff, though, and he hasn't amassed nearly enough booty to be a serious contender for the prize. While boarding a vessel one day, he meets Charles Darwin, who tells him that his parrot mascot is actually a rare dodo that could bring him untold riches at the Royal Academy's yearly competition in London. The Pirate Captain decides to attend the meeting despite the risk of incurring Queen Victoria's retribution, whose hatred of pirates is renowned.

The rest of the movie unfolds, and it's a well-proportioned mix of comedy, danger, and sentimentality. The filmmakers have refrained from going over-the-top with any of the particular elements (such as madcap action/hackneyed slapstick/overly risqué innuendo), and the result is a satisfying balance of laughter and suspense. The Pirates! even manages to convey some important messages about loyalty, fair play, and--of all things--biodiversity!

All of the parts of this film, including plot, visuals, acting, and pacing, are superlative.

Some "family" films by design are tailored towards a particular demographic. The Pirates!, on the other hand, will please children AND adults of all ages. It is definitely worth the purchase, since it won't get stale with repeated viewings and is a safe bet as far as entertaining friends or family goes.
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on February 22, 2014
Aardman animation were a breath of fresh air when the surfaced with the Wallace and Grommit series of shorter animations, it has been great to see them continue and broaden their scope with wonderful movies like this one. My family and I will be watching and enjoying this movie for many years to come.
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on October 20, 2012
An enjoyable movie. A bit too old to keep our 5 year old's attention. I believe she would enjoy it in an atmosphere of a few slightly older children to share the experience.
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The Pirates! is a fun movie in the tradition of stop-motion claymation done by Aardman Animations. The movie revolves around the plot of the Pirate Captain (that's his name) trying to win the Pirate of the Year award. Recognizing that fewer pirates are alive to claim the prize, Pirate Captain thinks that this is finally the year that he has a chance to win it along with his misfit crew. Pirate Captain is played by Hugh Grant who lends a great voice to the figure, but it's really hard to peg him as Hugh Grant unless you already know that. Jeremy Piven and Salma Hayek are his main competitors, but they don't figure strongly in the movie. Charles Darwin does thanks to an unusual encounter that sparks a rare opportunity for the Pirate Captain. Darwin goes on the play a semi-villain in the movie, which I quite enjoyed given my admiration for the real Charles Darwin. It's done in a spoofy enough way that no one would consider that it was indicative of the real Charles Darwin.

From a more technical perspective, the visuals are crisp, clear, and fun while the action is lively and the comedy hits more often than it misses. The Blu-Ray version featured commentaries from the director and co-direct that was pretty interesting to listen to and does add to the overall value of the DVD as does a short feature on being a pirate and a PS3 code for a game called Little Big Planet 2. I don't own a PS3 so I don't know if it's any good.

Overall then, there's pretty good value for this DVD and it's a pretty fun watch. It's not the greatest family movie this animation studio has every done, but it's definitely a fun movie worth watching if you get the chance. There is humor aimed at adults inside of the film, which is always a nice bonus as it lets parents laugh at a different level than their kids who laugh at more of the slapstick comedy. So if you're looking for a fun ~90 minutes of relatively harmless comedy, The Pirates! is a good buy.
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on December 15, 2012
This is yet another excellent movie from the folks that brought to you Wallace and Gromit. I highly recommend buying it!
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on September 29, 2013
A family fun filled misadventure of pirates created in the same vein as other Aardman hand claymation movies. A giggle and a gusty laugh at every turn of the sea.
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on May 14, 2015
This movie was great! Huge laugh spree, roller coaster of fun. I never seen it before, and I'm a big fan of Wallace and gromit.
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on September 25, 2016
Splendid animation w. great attention to detail, funny plot & hilarious anachronism. Poor Vicky!
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