The Pirates! Band of Misfits

The Nominations:

  • Best Animated Feature

The Black-and-White:

A review by spacedcowboy:

This category causes me heartburn. Year after year, some of the best movies of the year land in the category of Animated Feature. This year, although there are some terrific live-action movies for a change, it is no different. The animated films all incorporate the eternal elements of story, and serve as a reminder of how films should be. In this competitive category, Pirates more than belongs.

Until I started this review, I was torn between Pirates and Brave for my vote for the Academy Award, with Paranorman also swirling in the midst. To be honest, I thought I was leaning towards Pirates. However in sharing these words in this review, I found an element that discriminates these films and now, with some cautious steps, I give my vote to Brave.

Here’s a synopsis from

After years of humiliation and failed attempts to win the coveted Pirate of the Year Award, Pirate Captain and his oddball crew take on the cream of the pirating crop – Black Bellamy, Peg Leg Hastings and Cutlass Liz – in a race to pillage the most booty. They soon cross paths with lovelorn scientist Charles Darwin, who persuades the Captain that the crew’s prized ‘parrot’, Polly, could be the answer to the ‘untold riches’ they are searching for. Their adventure takes them to Victorian London where they meet Darwin’s sidekick ‘man-panzee’ Mister Bobo, and the notorious pirate-hating Queen Victoria herself. It soon unfolds that Darwin’s motives for helping the crew are not what they seem, and the Queen has an evil hidden agenda of her own. The Pirate Captain must choose between basking in the glory of being crowned Pirate of the Year, or staying faithful to his trusted crew. Written by Tom

This movie carries all the classical elements of a great film, and with a light-hearted touch. The Pirate Captain is lovable, and flawed, and we all want him to succeed. In a whimsical way, he explores his demons and is forced to choose between what he always thought he wanted and what he knows is right. It’s a story for the ages, but told in a refreshing and fun way.

His obstacles in his journey are believable, in the realm of an animated world, and all serve as needed tasks in his voyage.

His loyal crew have their doubts, but stand by their Captain. They are also heroes in the classical sense, coming to the rescue of their “dodo” and capture our hopes and support in their voyage as well.

It is a wonderful movie, with a wonderful, heart-warming story. It is a movie that well deserves its nomination. The animation is superb, as to be expected, and adds to the story.

Having said all this, what film deserves to win in this category?

What I think discriminates this film from Brave and even Paranorman is the voyage of the supporting cast. This movie recounts the wonderful voyage of the Pirate Captain and that more than carries the film. However the villains, and even the crew supporting our hero, have less of an arc. They are interesting and believable, but their stories are not as rich as in other films in this category. This story lives and dies – and it lives – on the voyage of the Pirate Captain. The antagonist, Queen Victoria, has a lesser arc than the antagonists in the other films in this category, and that small discriminant separates the films.

I recognize the arc that pseudo-antagonist Darwin has and he evolves (sorry) throughout this story. His story changes more due to circumstances  than choice. Nurture instead of nature, I suppose, and that is clever.

My review of Pirates is a surprise to me. It is the first time I have started a review expecting to anoint my choice for Oscar, and over the course of writing my imperfect thoughts, came to a different conclusion.

I ask, however, that you do not discount this movie. This is a great story, well-told, and one that will warm and challenge your heart. It did mine.

3 Responses to The Pirates! Band of Misfits

  1. […] are wonderful, and I have struggled to find my favorite. My first review in this category, for The Pirates! Band of Misfits, is submitted for your […]

  2. […] Animated Feature, my vote goes to Brave, but I admit I may be pre-biased, and see also my review of The Pirates. In the categories of animated films (feature or short) some wonder is happening this […]

  3. […] … divided … vote for Animated Feature, among a very competitive category. Paranorman or The Pirates would well deserve a win in this category as […]

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