Sunday Short Reviews

Every Sunday, Gill delves into his archive of over 800 movie reviews and randomly selects three for your enjoyment! Here are this week’s…

The Pirates! – Band of Misfits
Sadly, I found The Pirates – Band of Misfits to be one of Aardman Animation’s weaker efforts, as the film seems much more irreverent and child-oriented than their previously brilliant films like Chicken Run and Wallace & Gromit (both of which manage to be funny, sweet and entertaining without feeling like they were pandering). The Pirates – Band of Misfits is gorgeously animated in the trademark Aardman style, and on its visual and technical levels, the movie is terrific. The main character of Pirate Captain is also a lot of fun, and the crew (none of whom have names, but all of whom have great actors behind them) are enjoyable enough. I felt many of the jokes fell flat, however, and a lot of plot points were left unaddressed or unresolved. One rather glaring example is the fact that one of the pirate crew is obviously a woman in drag, but nothing is made of it and the joke is essentially a set up without a pay off. The Pirates – Band of Misfits is not a bad film by any stretch of the imagination. It’s fun, occasionally funny, and beautifully animated. But this is much closer to Flushed Away than it is to Chicken Run, and if I had to compare it to an animated film from a company other than Aardman, I’d say The Pirates is probably closest in tone and style to something like Shrek 2.
3.25 out of 5

Midnight Run
Midnight Run is a fun little buddy comedy that just goes to show how a clever script and a pair of good leading actors can help a film transcend its meagre budget. This is definitely one of my favourite Robert De Niro films, and he and Charles Grodin play off each other very well in terms of being comedic foils for one another. The premise is simple but effective, and there are a number of satisfying moments that will make you grin at the cleverness of the characters. Midnight Run is a good time, and it really makes you wonder what went wrong in Martin Brest’s career that would lead to him attempting the same plot, but failing horribly, with Gigli twenty years later.
3.5 out of 5

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
You can’t have it both ways. If you’re going to give your movie a campy title like Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, then you have to make a campy movie…otherwise you wind up with something as tonally confused as this film. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter tries to play its premise straight, with vampirism being an allegory for slavery and the war between the vampires and humans being an allegory for the American Civil War. All of this would be fine if the movie was being played for laughs, but the filmmakers are clearly taking themselves way too seriously. What’s more, we get very little of Abe Lincoln fighting vampires in the garb that he became famous for – namely the stovepipe hat and the chinstrap beard. I will concede that Rufus Sewell was born to play a vampire, and small moments of goofy camp like the axe-gun that Abe wields are a bit of fun, so the movie isn’t a complete loss. But in the end, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter views like a joke that the filmmakers didn’t get. Strange, considering it was written by the same guy who wrote the novel upon which it’s based, and helmed by masters of camp and silly action Tim Burton and Timur Bekmambetov.
3 out of 5

See you next Sunday for three more thrilling short reviews!

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