The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientist: "You're The Best Crew A Captain Could Wish For"

Director: Peter Lord
               Jeff Newitt
Writer:    Gideon Defoe
Starring: Hugh Grant
               Martin Freeman
               David Tennant
               Salma Hayek
               Jeremy Piven
               Imelda Staunton
               Lenny Henry
               Ashley Jensen
               Brian Blessed
               Russell Tovey
Rating:    ****

Release Date: Out Now 

Here we have another Aardman classic, but this time with Plasticine pirates wreaking the havoc and providing many a laugh.. Hugh Grant, in an extremely different role for him, really sets the tone as the voice of the merry yet bumbling Pirate Captain who couldn't find a box of treasure if one swung down and smacked him in the face. Because of this foolishness he is forced to look at different ways to be a better pirate.

The Pirate Crew
This, of course, is where the scientists come in, to be more precise, Charles Darwin in particular (Tennant). This inclusion of the famous scientist is very much in keeping with the tongue-in-cheek view view of history (written by Gideon Dafoe adapting his own children's books). The character of Darwin has been turned into a a creepy little man who likes pickling animals and he soon finds himself fixating his beady little eyes on the giant parrot perched on the Captain's shoulder. It turns out that this "parrot" is in fact dodo, and it is this that will make the Captain a better pirate, and Darwin will receive plenty of glory.

With this in mind, Darwin invites the Captain and his crew to a science contest where there's a big prize up for grabs. Of course Darwin's plan is to steal the dodo leave the pirates behind feeling dumber than ever, but the Captain has other ideas; mainly to win the prize (booty) and show off the winnings to his rival pirates (seadogs) (including a saucy Salma Hayek) and claim the title of Pirate of the Year.

There are many quirks and cheeky winks in Dafoe's story, and the most outrageously funny one is the character of Queen Victoria (Staunton) being portrayed as a matronly villainess in an iron skirt. She quite literally wants that dodo's head on a platter, she plans to serve the poor little bird at a royal banquet where the worlds royalty want to dine on the rarest delicacy's. It's, let's be honest, a bizarre tale, but one that feels extremely British...almost like the popular sitcom, Blackadder, but for children (and adults too, let's be honest)

As for the animation and film-making, it has a much sleeker Hollywood feel to it, and with the creator of Wallace & Gromit, Nick Park, not being involved, it does lack some of that Aardman sparkle. Things like attention to detail not being as obsessed over; the cheeky nods and in-jokes with the audience not being as  sophisticated. I will say that due to its design and conception, the film is clearly aimed more towards  children, though grownups will surely enjoy the witty banter and subtler grown up jokes.

Queen Victoria
The Captain's crew was one of the huge highlights of the film for me. Featuring the voice talents of features Martin Freeman, Ashley Jensen, Lenny Henry, Russell Tovey and Brian Blessed, who each deliver their lines with the sort of dry humour you'd expect a typically British comedy. Plus, with Grant leading the gang of pirates, it is basically a perfect mix. Grant is much more engaging in this role than ever before, simply because he plays against type; with an over-the-top bravado and lacking many a brain cell.

Not only are there plenty of wacky characters to keep you engaged, but also the world they move in is like  its own separate entity. The action moves at a brilliant speed between exotic islands and a vividly thought out 19th century London. It feels familiar, yet alien all at once because the filmmakers haven't become swept up by realism (as CGI toonists often are). In fact, it's that colourfully over the top and zany vision of the world that gives The Pirates so much charm. You'll find yourself fully taken in by the wondrous world that has been created, with 3D glasses or not.

 The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists - Trailer