Review: The Pirates! in an Adventure with Scientists (2012)

“Behind every captain, there’s a crew. Sure, some of you are as ugly as a sea cucumber, some of you are closer to being a chair or coat rack than a pirate, and some of you are fish I’ve just dressed up in a hat…”

In The Pirates! in an Adventure with Scientists, Hugh Grant stars in his first animated role as the luxuriantly bearded Pirate Captain – a boundlessly enthusiastic, if somewhat less-than-successful, terror of the High Seas. With a rag-tag crew at his side (Martin Freeman, Brendan Gleeson, Russell Tovey, and Ashley Jensen), and seemingly blind to the impossible odds stacked against him, the Captain has one dream: to beat his bitter rivals Black Bellamy (Jeremy Piven) and Cutlass Liz (Salma Hayek) to the much coveted Pirate Of The Year Award. It’s a quest that takes our heroes from the shores of exotic Blood Island to the foggy streets of Victorian London. Along the way they battle a diabolical queen (Imelda Staunton) and team up with a haplessly smitten young scientist (David Tennant), but never lose sight of what a pirate loves best: adventure! – ROTTEN TOMATOES

The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists is a great family film. The comedy is broad, the plot simple and uncomplicated with the visuals colourful and entertaining. In the space of just three features Aardman have created a unique place for their films in the landscape of both British and international cinema, and The Pirates! is a great addition to their body of work.

In The Pirates! Pirate Captain (voiced by Hugh Grant) bids to outdo his peers and win the Pirate of the Year competition; in the process Pirate Captain and his crew infiltrate the Royal Society in London, fight Queen Victoria and abduct Charles Darwin. If this all sounds like the craziest plot for a mainstream animated feature you have ever heard you would be right; But don’t worry, because the craziness only makes The Pirates! even better.

Mostly the voice cast fill their roles well, and I would even go as far to say that Hugh Grant is a revelation. Avoiding the stereotypical ‘Pirate voice’ for both Pirate Captain and his crew, director Peter Lord creates a unique identity for his lead characters and lets his voice cast shine. A couple of the voices didn’t really fit their characters well, such as Martin Freeman and Brian Blessed just felt like lazy casting. Along with Hugh Grant, Imelda Staunton stands out as the star of the film, in her second Aardman film.

Lord and his team of animators mix stop motion animation with CGI backgrounds and the effect works very well, giving the film a cinematic sense of scope that is needed for ships sailing the high seas. CGI sequences connecting scenes together also work well; first used as an opening credits sequence it was great to see the idea used throughout the film.

Gideon Defoe’s script, adapted from the first two of his books in the series, does take about 10 mins to get going at the start, but once the film finds it trajectory the jokes and laughs come thick and fast. Peter Lord litters the film with enough visual gags that it would take at least two viewings of the film to catch them all.

The title for The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists is already constructed for the addition of sequels, and Defoe has already published 3 further instalments including An Adventure with Communists and Napoleon! I have no doubt that this film will be every bit the success it deserves to be, and I can’t wait to see the next instalment.

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Comments
One Response to “Review: The Pirates! in an Adventure with Scientists (2012)”
  1. FrontRoomCinema says:

    Sounds like one I will need to take my girls to see! Nice one

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