- Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
- Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4 (2D); MVC (3D)
- Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
- Audio Codec: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/16-bit), English Audio Descriptive Service Dolby Digital 2.0, French DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/16-bit), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
- Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish
- Subtitles Color: White
- Region: ABC (Region-Free)
- Rating: PG
- Run Time: 88 Mins.
- Discs: 3 (1 x Blu-ray 3D + 1 x Blu-ray + 1 x DVD + UltraViolet)
- Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
- Blu-ray Release Date: August 28, 2012
- List Price: $45.99
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Arrgh! Who said Johnny Depp had a monopoly on pirate adventure movies? Aardman Animations, the people who brought us Chicken Run, Wallace & Gromit, and Arthur Christmas, return the family fun and adventure to the pirate genre with this new stop-motion film, Pirates! Band of Misfits.
The Pirate Captain (Hugh Grant in his first animated appearance; Four Weddings and a Funeral) is a bit incompetent when it comes to the typical things that pirates do – pillaging, plundering, and gathering booty. His band of misfits aren’t much help either, so when he enters his name into the annual Pirate of the Year competition, he becomes a bit of a laughing stock. The Pirate Captain is determined to defeat his rivals Black Bellamy (Jeremy Piven; TV’s Entourage; Spy Kids: All the Time in the World; I Melt With You) and Cutlass Liz (Salma Hayek; Puss in Boots; Frida) this year, so he sets off with his crew to pillage and plunder, which naturally goes poorly. But the crew meets the scientist Charles Darwin (David Tennant; TV’s Doctor Who; TV’s Hamlet) who informs them that their beloved parrot Polly is in fact not a parrot, but a dodo. With ideas of riches and glory, Pirate Captain makes for London to enter into a science competition, but there he must deal with the pirate-hating Queen Victoria (Imelda Staunton). Once his true identity is revealed, Pirate Captain must strike a deal with the Queen in order to save his neck (and finally get the riches he desires), but it is a double-edged sword. The Queen has her own nefarious plans for Polly, and the pirates must band together to save their beloved pet from her clutches.
As is usual with all Aardman films, the exceptional attention to detail in the characters makes the film a stop-motion visual delight that perhaps only has an equal in the best of the CG films from Pixar. The film’s story is also equally enjoyable, without a sluggish moment to speak of, it eases by with a delightful mixture of action-filled gags and anachronistic jokes that will hook the parents while simultaneous keeping the kids entertained.
Unlike the majority of animated films these days, Pirates! Band of Misfits was not done using CGI, but, rather, it uses the stop-motion technique. The meticulous process of photographing every frame was done with the Canon EOS 5D Mark II camera at 5K resolution. In full motion, transferred here in an AVC/MPEG-4 1080p (2D) encodement, it looks rather breathtaking, almost like one can touch the figures. There aren’t many signs of digital artifacts to be found intruding on the image and colors are vivid.
The 3D presentation in the usual MVC, also at 1080p, is also rather impressive, offering a strong sense of natural depth. Pop-out isn’t very strong, though there are one or two moments where a pistol or sword is thrust out from the screen a bit. Detail and overall brightness maintains its integrity while issues with crosstalk are extremely slight.
It may only be 16-bit, but the English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/16-bit) soundtrack for Pirates! Band of Misfits is perfect, nonetheless. It is just the sort of dynamic and engulfing soundtrack you’d expect from an animated adventure film such as this and it fully utilizes every channel – a splash here, an explosion there – with hefty lows to support it all. Dialogue is clean and clear, never dropping below the onslaught of sound effects.
All the supplements are contained on the 2D Blu-ray and DVD disc, which both contain their own exclusive extras.
- Commentary with Director Peter Lord, Co-Director Jeff Newitt, and Editor Justin Krish
- So You Want to Be a Pirate! Short Film (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 18:07)
- Pirate Disguise Dress-Up Game – Look for the example disguise and try to match each wacky ensemble before time runs out.
- From Stop to Motion (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:20:52) – This “making of” explores the stop-motion techniques used in producing the animation in The Pirates! Band of Misfits.
- Creating the Bath Chase Sequence (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:08:22)
- Peter Lord Short Films:
- Wat’s Pig w/ optional commentary (1.85:1; 1080p/24; 00:11:25)
- War Story w/ optional commentary (1.33:1; 1080p/24; 00:05:27)
- DVD – Standard DVD of the film also contains exclusive feature, Mr. Bobo’s Flash Card Challenge and DVD-Rom link to more online content.
The Definitive Word
Gather ’round mateys, this here be the perfect bit of loot for plundering! Pirates! Band of Misfits is truly a rousing bit of family-oriented adventure that pleases all the senses, and offers something a little different with its wonderfully detailed stop-motion technique.
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Tags: Action, Adventure, Al Roker, Animation, Anton Yelchin, Ashley Jensen, David Tennant, Hugh Grant, Imelda Staunton, Jeremy Piven, Kids & Family, Salma Hayek, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Stop-Motion Animation, The Pirates! Band of Misfits