The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists!

Posted on April 16, 2012. Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , |


Told you I wasn’t dead.
I’m still in the deep dark hole of revision for exams, but I escaped for just long enough to make it to a cinema and thought it was about time I actually wrote something on here that wasn’t an apology about not posting.  So what did I go and see with my precious few hours off? The Pirates! of course!

I’ve wanted to see this film ever since I heard it’s utterly brilliant title. (In full, it’s actually: The Pirates: band of misfits, in an adventure with Scientists!) I just love the brazen way they’ve gone, this is slightly silly film about pirates and scientists. Let’s just call it that.  When I then realised this was an Aardman film and had voice talent from pretty much every British actor who happened to walk past the microphone I knew that this was probably going to be something worth venturing to the cinema for.

As we’ve come to expect from Aardman, Pirates! captures a brand of British humour that is kind of hard to define. It’s the attention to detail that makes it work so well, such as the Blue Peter badge in the hat of one of the pirates, and leaves you wanting to see it again to pick up all the other little in jokes. The humour is deadpan and silly, which is a winning combination in a film like this, and manages to tap in to that elusive level that works for both kids and slightly bigger kids.  I particularly liked the generic character names, including  Pirate with Scarf and my personal favourite; Surprisingly Curvaceous Pirate, a little nod to the fact that in these big ensemble movies, no one ever remembers the names anyway! (How many POTC crew members can you name?)

The voice cast reads like a who’s who. Hugh Grant is well placed as the slightly too nice for his own good Pirate Captain and Martin Freeman (who can basically do no wrong at the moment) is perfect as the second in command who’s clearly the brains of the outfit.  Imelda Staunton does what she does best, and David Tennant makes a surprisingly good Darwin. Throw in Brendan Gleeson, AshelyJensen, Lenny Henry and even Salma Hayak and you’ve got one of the most eclectic cast lists I’ve ever read, but one that somehow comes together (and lets you play a fun game of name the voice while you’re watching).

Seeing as this is essentially a kids film, you can be forgiven for thinking the plot will be a bit thin, but it actually didn’t feel predictable or generic.  I decided I wanted to see it knowing fairly little about it, and was genuinely surprised by some of the turns the plot took.  I never thought I’d see a British film with a slightly psychotic Queen Victoria  and a snivelly Charles Darwin as it’s villains, and a Pirate Captain (albeit with a luxuriant beard) as the hero you’re rooting for, but there you go. It works!

I shouldn’t really need to convince you to go and see this film. It’s a great bit of fun if, like me, you need to escape for a couple of hours.

And in case you’re worried I’m going to tease you with a post and then disappear again, The Avengers comes out on the 26th April. Guess where I’m going on the 29th… 😉

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Top 5 Movie Fight Scenes

Posted on October 18, 2009. Filed under: Ramblings, Top 5 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Catching the final showdown of a soon to be named action movie on TV a little while ago got me thinking about the best fight choreography to hit the big screen.  The following debate with my sister made me realise that a blog post was in order, so here are my favourite movie punch ups.

Just so you know, I’m not counting full on battles here, more one on ones (or one on manys).  Coming up with a top 5 was really tricky, and there are lots of great films that aren’t on the list (Die Hard, Fight Club, Spiderman, Star Wars…) so try not to get too angry if you’re favourite isn’t there. And please, remind me of the awesome punch ups I’m bound to have forgotten.

5. Daredevil

Maybe a controversial one here, since I seem to be pretty alone in liking this film, but I reckon that the first meeting between Matt and Elektra in the playground is a great movie moment.  It’s a tie between that playground fight, and the showdown in the bar with some cocky criminals for best fight in the movie.  What makes the latter so great is the point of view stuff, showing what Daredevil “sees” and making the fight a lot more interesting.

4. Bridget Jones’ Diary

It’s the ultimate anti-fight.  Two posh public school boys try to knock the stuffing out of each other without getting their expensive suits dirty.  Outcome? Definitely one of the best on screen fights ever.  I think what makes it so good is the fact that it seems perfectly likely that if Hugh Grant and Colin Firth ever do get into a fight, this is exactly what it would look like.  The best part is when they sing happy birthday.

How not to fight

3. X2: Wolverine’s Revenge

When I’ve watched Origins again, this may well get replaced by one of the Wolverine/Sabre fights, but when I first saw X2 and the set up starts for the battle between Wolverine and his female counterpart Lady Deathstrike I knew it was gonna be good.  It’s a dual of the immortals and the fact that the pair are so evenly matched is what makes the fight so awesome.  And the way he wins, you’ve gotta admit, is pretty inventive.

2. Equilibrium

Gun Kata. All hail the guy who came up with that one.  It’s not quite Martial Arts, it’s not exactly a shoot out, it sure is awesome to watch!  The whole film is filled with wicked fight moments, but I think for obvious reasons the ultimate fight sequence of the movie has got to be Preston’s final show down with “Father”. Damn that was good.

1. And the winner is….The Marix Trilogy

The film I was watching when this idea came to me was Matrix Revolutions, and despite the flaws in that film, I still think the so called “super-burly brawl” at the end is the best bit of fight choreography yet to be committed to celluloid. I mean, their punches stop the rain for god’s sake!  The effort that went into the visuals of that scene is just staggering, the row upon row of Agent Smiths that appear even in the windows of the skyscrapers for example must have taken hours of post production.  Of course, the focus on visuals rather than plot is probably what killed the two sequels, but you’ve got to hand it to the Wachowski brothers, they know how to stage a punch up.  In Reloaded we have the (not quite as super) burly brawl where Neo and a metal pole take on the legions in yet another stunning combination of wire work, kung fu and bullet time.  If you’re not into the sequels, the sequence which follows: “What do you need?” “Guns. Lots of guns,” in the original is just epic.  And since it’s pretty clear that fights liked this spawned our number two spot, it gets extra credit.

I could go on about Matrix fight scenes for a long time.  The thing about The Matrix is, the films changed our expectations of movie fights; with the invention of bullet time one of the major landmarks in visual effects history.  Thanks to them, fight choreography isn’t just about one guy swinging at another, it’s an art form in itself.  Which keeps action junkies like me very happy. 🙂

He's beginning to believe

Honorable Mention:

“Come back and I’ll bite your legs off!” The Black Knight always triumphs.

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