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THE PIRATES! BAND OF MISFITS

Released overseas as THE PIRATES! IN AN ADVENTURE WITH SCIENTISTS, THE PIRATES! BAND OF MISFITS ($46) has a decidedly droll British sense of humor, but proves itself to be one of the more clever and thoroughly entertaining stop motion animated films out there. Loosely based upon the first book from Gideon Defoe's The Pirates! series, THE PIRATES! BAND OF MISFITS tells the story of a fairly unorthodox group of ragtag pirates, who are highly dedicated to their good natured, but slightly inept leader who goes by the moniker- The Pirate Captain. Having been "overlooked" time and again, The Pirate Captain makes a concerted effort to win the Pirate Of The Year Competition, although he does face stiff competition from pirates, who are actually good at their profession.

Setting out to plunder the most booty, The Pirate Captain always manages to come across ships with nothing of value to plunder, with the last vessel the board turning out to be a scientific ship carrying one Charles Darwin. While Darwin offers no treasure himself, he does come to recognize that the crew's pet parrot Polly, is no parrot at all, but instead the last living dodo bird. Darwin then makes a pitch to The Pirate Captain, advising him of a considerable prize offered at the Scientist of the Year competition at the Royal Academy in London, which can be won if they present the last living dodo to the scientific community. What follows is an adventure of Royal proportions as our merry band of misfits' attempts to plunder the scientific prize, only to be revealed to a Pirate hating Queen Victoria, who has a strange appetite for exotic animals- with the last living dodo topping the menu. The vocal talent behind THE PIRATES! BAND OF MISFITS features Hugh Grant, David Tennant, Imelda Staunton, Martin Freeman, Jeremy Piven, Salma Hayek, Lenny Henry, Brian Blessed, Anton Yelchin, Brendan Gleeson, Ashley Jensen, Al Roker, Mike Cooper, David Schneider and Mitchell Mullen.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has made THE PIRATES! BAND OF MISFITS available on Blu-ray Disc in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. I have to say THE PIRATES! BAND OF MISFITS looks truly wonderful in high definition. Shot with digital still cameras, every frame of THE PIRATES! BAND OF MISFITS has been perfectly captured, so that the film’s miniature stop-motion world renders out perfectly to Blu-ray. Sharpness and image detail bring to life every bit of goofy goodness contained in the character and production designs, even if there is a decided smoothness to many of the characters and objects. Colors have a good level of saturation, but it is never taken to an extreme. Additionally, there are muted tones throughout the production and lighting designs that help establish mood, which can make the saturation seem lessened. Blacks are pitch perfect and the whites are totally crisp. Contrast and shadow detail are excellent for this type of animation. Fully digital, THE PIRATES! BAND OF MISFITS does not display any film-based imperfections. Noise/grain remains out of sight.

THE PIRATES! BAND OF MISFITS is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. Overall, this is a very solid soundtrack, even if the surround channels aren't as prominent as they are in live action fare. There is a very nice spread across the front channels, which are nicely implemented act active. The rear channels are a bit more subdued where active effects are concerned, but are utilized well for ambient sounds and musical fill. Thanks to the lossless encode, fidelity is quite strong; the musical component is full-bodied, plus all of the sound effects come across in a convincing manner. The bass channel adds depth to the effects, but isn't over the top. Voices have a warm, natural quality, plus the film’s dialogue is always completely understandable. A French 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack, plus a Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 channel is also encoded onto the disc, as is an English Descriptive track. Subtitles are available in English, French and Spanish.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the disc's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as some supplements. Starting things off is a running Audio Commentary with director Peter Lord, co-director Jeff Newitt, and editor Justin Krish. Next up is an eighteen minute short film entitled So You Want To Be A Pirate! There is also an interactive Pirate Disguise Dress-Up Game. Featurettes and other programs include the following: From Stop To Motion (twenty one minutes); Creating The Bath Chase Sequence (eight minutes): A focused examination of the process of making one of the film's most complex scenes; Peter Lord Short Films: Wat's Pig (eleven minutes- with optional director's commentary) and War Story (5 minutes- with optional director's commentary).  Disc two offers a DVD copy of the program for those who are on the fence about making the upgrade to Blu-ray. An authorization code is provided for an UltraViolet Digital Copy of the program, which is just a stream away.

I found THE PIRATES! BAND OF MISFITS to be a genuine animated delight. The Blu-ray presentation is excellent. THE PIRATES! BAND OF MISFITS comes very highly recommended.

 
THE PIRATES! BAND OF MISFITS 


The Pirates! Band of Misfits (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo) (2012)

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DVD & Blu-ray Disc reviews are Copyright 2012 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.


 

 

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