An enjoyable, if occassionally laboured, family animation from Aardman
Aardman's Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists is the most ambitious undertaking yet from the Bristol-based clay-mation specialists but while often enjoyable it's not all plain sailing.
The madcap story of a pirate captain, who attempts to win an annual Pirate of the Year competition with the help of a dodo and a young Charles Darwin (David Tennant), certainly looks like the five-year labour of love that it is. Hugh Grant delivers a pleasingly inept pirate captain and there's much mirth to be found in the one-liners and mis-adventures of his similarly hapless crew, especially Imelda Staunton's villainous Queen Victoria who’s a riot of monstrous energy.
However, sometimes The Pirates! feels like it's trying a little too hard to please. The humour is occasionally laboured and steadfastly British, often in a way that makes it feel dated. While some of the larger-than-life characters (such as Brian Blessed's pirate king or Jeremy Piven's competitor) just don't get the screen time they warrant.
That said The Pirates! no doubt will play well to the whole family and with such enchanting visuals and astonishing attention to detail there’s still much to treasure here.
General release from Weds 28 March.