UK Release date: 28th March 2012
Watched on Sky+ Saturday 26th January 2013.
PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE UNINTENTIONAL SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.
I admit to being a fan of stop-motion animation and in particular the Aardman films; over the years I reckon I’ve seen just about all of their output. And so we come to ‘The Pirates!’; it did play at my local cinema but only for a very brief time and work commitments kept me from seeing it. So I was very pleased when it appeared in the TV listings this week. Here’s a very brief summary before I give you my thoughts.
The Pirate Captain (Hugh Grant) has always wanted to win the ‘Pirate of the Year’ award. He’s entered for the last twenty years and always lost. This year though, he feels he’s in with a chance! His crew fully back him, in particular his number two, The Pirate with a Scarf (Martin Freeman). There is some pretty stiff competition; Black Bellamy (Jeremy Piven), Cutlass Liz (Salma Hayek) and Peg Leg Hastings (Lenny Henry) are all in with a good shout and consider The Pirate Captain as a bit of a joke. They set off to make their mark but are soon disheartened when all they can find are Plague Ships, Ghost Ships and School outings. He’s about to give up when they come across a ship carrying Charles Darwin (David Tennant), who is more than interested in the ship’s parrot, Polly. It turns out that Polly is in fact a Dodo; a species thought to be extinct. Darwin persuades the captain that a great prize might be had by the man that brings this rarity to the Royal Society in London. The trouble is, Queen Victoria (Imelda Staunton) is there and she really hates Pirates.
Exceptionally well animated, as ever, with some really great sight-gags all over the place. I think I’ll have to see it a few times to catch them all! As to the plot, well maybe a little over-complicated for its target audience, but there’s enough excitement on screen to keep the little ones occupied. For me, the only downside was portraying Queen Victoria as the main baddy; I can’t recall her ever being played in this way before, but I’m sure I’ll be corrected on that. This aside, I found it quite charming with many comic moments that even made me laugh out loud! (This is rare). All the voice artists were excellent, I particularly liked Hugh Grant; I think he got it just right. Over all, an entertaining film with plenty of laughs and there’s even a great soundtrack!
SteelMonster’s verdict: RECOMMENDED
My score: 7.8/10.
IMDb Score: 6.7/10 (based on 18,582 votes when this review was written).
MetaScore: 73/100: (Based on 31 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com at the time of going to press).
Rotten Tomatoes ‘Audience’ Score: 60/100 (based on 81,582 user ratings counted at the time of going to press).
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Pirate Captain: 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...
Pirate Captain: What pirates? Nobody here but us girl scouts!
[the crew is disguised in scout uniforms]
Bobo: Yeah. Right.
Pirate Captain: Now listen Charles, we've all done something unforgivable. I've betrayed my pirate honour, you've betrayed science, and Mr. Bobo's betrayed the animal kingdom.