Whenever a band splits up, especially if it's a particularly nasty break-up, usually the remaining members may try to soldier on without that one thorn in their side. There are some that are successful: Pink Floyd made two very good albums after Roger Waters left the band. There are times though that the end result is nothing short of an unmitigated disaster.
Van Halen - Van Halen III
After burning through two lead singers, the band went with former Extreme frontman Gary Cherone. It didn't help that the album's cover featured a man getting hit in the stomach with a cannonball - that was how fans probably felt after the group had reunited with David Lee Roth and then dropped him to the side like one of their groupies in the '80s. Worst of all, Cherone tried to make the band more political, which is something that Sammy Hagar OR David Lee Roth ever could have been accused of doing. Just a bad album all around.
Genesis - Calling All Stations
After Peter Gabriel left, people lamented that Genesis would never be the same. Phil Collins, who had already been an integral part of the band on the drum kit, came and led the band into a whole new direction, one that led to huge stadium tours. After Collins left, Michael Rutherford and Tony Banks hand-picked a new lead singer, Ray Wilson. The problem is. that while the music was decent in some parts, it never felt like a Genesis album, since Collins' drum sound was as important as his voice. It was one-and-done for Wilson.
Guns N' Roses - Chinese Democracy
This time it was the lead singer who stayed with the band and the other members left. Axl Rose pretty much kicked all the members of the band to the curb and brought in a new group. Gone was master guitar player Slash and in came Buckethead. The only similarity between those two was their predilection for wearing giant hatwear. Predictably, the album was rather poorly received.
Velvet Underground - Squeeze
Lou Reed was long gone from the band, having quit before Loaded came out, and Sterling Morrison and Maureen Tucker were also MIA. Since there were so many band changes, this shouldn't have even been called a Velvet Underground album. Bassist/guitarist Doug Yule (who himself had replaced John Cale, meaning that no original VU members were on the album) should have just put it out as a solo LP. Also, there's just something weird about a giant hand holding the Empire State Building like a tube of toothpaste. (Fun fact: the British band Squeeze, whose debut album was produced by Cale, named themselves after this album.)
INXS - Switch
This album came out after lead singer Michael Hutchence died of an apparent suicide in 1997. The band decided to soldier on and had a reality show where they auditioned for a new singer and they settled on J.D. Fortune. He was chosen partly because he sounded like Hutchence. That was both good and bad, since fans who had grown up listening to INXS had a cognitive disconnect and while it sold well, it just didn't feel like an INXS album. They released one more album that was more of a tribute album and have faded away.
More:Why We Love Having Keith Olbermann BackFantasy Casting J.K. Rowling's Detective NovelWhy Roky Erickson Is The Ultimate Rock N' Roll Survivor
From Our Partners:40 Most Revealing See-Through Red Carpet Looks (Vh1)15 Stars Share Secrets of their Sex Lives (Celebuzz)
Let's face it the world of Hollywood pirating — with its peglegs eyepatches shoulder parrots and bounty of other swashbuckling tropes — is pretty silly. Even a high seas adventure like Pirates of the Caribbean has the ridiculous Jack Sparrow to help it hobble along. Pushing the comedy can only work in pirate movie's favor and Aardman Animation's Pirates! A Band of Misfits goes all out seizing the absurdity with a flare only British sensibilities could conjure. The film is a treasure trove of design and technical wizardry but for those less interested in the intricacies of stop motion animation Pirates!'s simple story packs plenty of low-key laughs that viewers all ages can pick up.
The Pirate Captain (Hugh Grant) is at wit's end. While he's enjoyed his time leading a ragtag group of wannabe pirates including Albino Pirate (Anton Yelchin) Pirate with Gout (Brendan Gleeson) Surprisingly Curvaceous Pirate (Ashley Jensen) and his number two Pirate with a Scarf (Martin Freeman) a lifestyle of eating ham and barely making ends meet is losing its luster. When Pirate Captain shows up to the annual Pirate of the Year submission day he's once again outdone by Black Bellamy (Jeremy Piven) who rides in on a whale full of gold. Driven by competition Pirate Captain reassembles his crew hits the open waters and begins a new wave of pillaging. It's all for naught until the pirates cross paths with Charles Darwin (David Tennant) who identifies Pirate Captain's "parrot" as an extinct dodo bird. Suddenly the pirates have a new (and lucrative) calling: science.
There's an unexpected intelligence to Pirates!. The movie based on a children's book of the same name centers on Pirate Captain's mid-life crisis delves into the world of 18th century science and pegs Queen Victoria (Imelda Staunton) as the mastermind bad guy behind the elimination of the pirate occupation. That gives the accompanying adults plenty to chew (and laugh) on but director Peter Lord doesn't stray away from an ol' fashioned slapstick routine. There's a marvelous stray bathtub sequence halfway through the film a wild ride through Charles Darwin's old tudor house that's a true spectacle. But even a simple gag involving baking soda and vinegar exploding sud bubbles is expertly crafted and executed by Lord.
The stop motion technique never feels limited in Pirates! even with a great deal of walking and talking scenes. Gideon Defoe's script is elevated by the vocal performances; Grant is perfectly cast as the faux-burly Pirate Captain while Martin Freeman's perfected "timid skeptic" routine from The Office and Sherlock is once again on full display. The Aardman team continues to have a knack for gesturing their puppets uniquely natural and human. Even with all the enormous pirate ships detailed cityscapes and dazzling action Pirates! is at its best when it focuses on the sillier calmer moments.
The tangibility of Pirates! A Band of Misfits comes through in its physical stop-motion animation techniques but also its genuine heart. There's a rare reality to the storytelling even at its most fantastical. While the film doesn't hit the same emotional chords as some of Pixar or Dreamworks' best you would need an X-marked map to find a Hollywood cartoon as sweet and heartfelt. So don't walk the plank on this one — board with kids in tow immediately.