(out of 5)
Alternate title: The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists!
The folks at Aardman have returned with another delightful feature-length animated film chock full of wondrous spectacle and insouciant humour. Hugh Grant does a top-flight job voicing the Pirate Captain (with the “luxuriant” beard) of a rather unimpressive band of men (one of whom is Suspiciously Curvaceous). They aren’t much as pirates go, but the Captain still hangs on to his big dream: to take top honours at the Pirate of the Year awards. Of course, to do so would mean outdoing his challengers at raking in booty and causing mayhem, so he sets about his task with utmost dedication, travelling the seas only to be disappointed that there are more ships on school trips than there are ones bearing treasure. His loyalties are tested when his pursuit of his dream is complicated by a lonely Charles Darwin, constantly looking to break new scientific ground in the hopes of impressing the ladies, and a villainous Queen Victoria, who desires to make dinner out of his dear pet parrot. The monarch hates pirates more than anything in the world, and also enjoys dining on rare species of animals; in the hilariously anachronistic world that this film takes place in, she’s also already chubby and older by 1837 and is the contemporary of both Jane Austen and the Elephant Man. The animation is terrific, the humour is consistently bone-tickling throughout and the entire voice cast is uniformly excellent.
Directed by Peter Lord
Screenplay by Gideon Defoe, based on his book
Cinematography by Frank Passingham
Music by Theodore Shapiro
Production Design by Norman Garwood
Film Editing by Justin Krish