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The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists - Review

The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

AARDMAN Animation look set to gleefully plunder a box office treasure trove now that their most ambitious undertaking to date, The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists finally sets sail in cinemas.

Yet as enjoyable as the film is, it’s not all plain sailing as there are flaws that prevent it from becoming truly great or mentioned with quite the same affection as their more famous Wallace & Gromit creations.

On the plus side, Aardman’s clay-mation style of animation results in some beautifully realised sets and set pieces, while the talented voice cast deliver their lines with an energy and enthusiasm that’s infectious.

Hugh Grant makes an endearingly inept Pirate Captain, Imelda Staunton is a feverishly evil Queen Victoria and David Tennant a suitably scheming Charles Darwin. And there’s notable support from the likes of Martin Freeman, Brendan Gleeson and Jeremy Piven (not to mention a typically enthusiastic Brian Blessed!).

But therein lies one of the film’s niggles, for having created such an interesting set of supporting characters, not everyone gets the chance they deserve to shine (with Piven, Gleeson and Blessed particularly under-used).

Another problem is the humour, which for the most part is steadfastly and proudly British… yet sometimes overly so. A lot of the jokes have a dated feel (worthy of the sit-coms of old) and some jokes are overdone.

That’s not to say there isn’t mirth to be found, rather they don’t take the form of the belly laughs you may have been expecting.

The plot, too, has a certain inevitability to it as The Pirate Captain and his crew attempt to win the Pirate of the Year competition with the help of Charles Darwin, while avoiding the wrath of Queen Victoria. And if anything, the resolution slightly underwhelms.

But in spite of all this The Pirates! remains a thoroughly British crowdpleaser that succeeds in spite of its flaws and does enough to suggest that a franchise could be in the making.

It’s consistently amusing, visually inventive and both safe enough for the whole family to enjoy as well as suitably out there with some of its sillier ideas, all plundered – of course – from the book by Gideon Defoe (which has already been turned into a franchise).

Hats off, then, to director Peter Lord and company for sticking to their principals and delivering another winner, albeit a flawed one.

Take a look behind-the-scenes

Certificate: U
Running time: 88mins
UK Release Date: March 28, 2012