Magazine article Screen International

The Pirates! in an Adventure with Scientists

Magazine article Screen International

The Pirates! in an Adventure with Scientists

Article excerpt

Dir: Peter Lord. UK-US. 2012. 88mins

Swashbuckling family adventure on the high seas is the name of the game in the latest stop-motion animated film from British company Aardman (the company that made the Wallace And Gromit films), and while unlikely to knock Captain Jack Sparrow off the piratical top spot the film delivers smart, funny and energetic entertainment for all the family and is likely to have a long life and possibly more than a few sequels.

Hugh Grant brings just the right amount of befuddled enthusiasm to the Pirate Captain.

The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists opens in the UK and a series of mainland European territories on March 28 prior to its bow in the US (where it is released as The Pirates! Band Of Misfits) on April 27. Produced in association with Sony Pictures Animation, the film is a swaggering feast of pirate clichés while also taking the storyline into new and unusual directions.

Based on Gideon Defoe's children's book The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists (he also wrote the screenplay), the film is peppered with international voice talent - with Salma Hayek and Jeremy Piven as rival pirate chiefs - but at heart is resolutely British in tone (in a similar fashion to Aardman's last animated film Arthur Christmas), with a recognisable cast including Hugh Grant, David Tennant, Martin Freeman, Imelda Staunton and Ashley Jensen taking on the key roles.

The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists is made in the stop-motion style that has become Aardman's signature (and won them four Oscars via the Wallace And Gromit films and Creature Comforts), though the film also utilises CG - for the sea footage - which helps it deliver a busy and glossy 3D experience. As is often the case, the 3D glasses darken the colour, but this may vary depending on projection and glasses used.

Pirate Captain (voiced enthusiastically by Hugh Grant) is blessed with a luxuriant beard and boundless enthusiasm and with his loyal rag-tag crew embraces the pirate ways, despite being a less-than-successful terror of the High Seas. He is determined to win the much-coveted Pirate of the Year award, but would have to beat off his bitter rivals Black Bellamy (Jeremy Piven) and Cutlass Liz (Salma Hayek).

After a series of inept attempts to ambush other ships (ranging from a plague vessel through to a ghost ship) he ends up boarding a British vessel, only to find it contains no treasures, simply a young explorer named Charles Darwin (David Tennant). Darwin manages to convince Pirate Captain that money is to be made displaying the captain's parrot in London. …

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