8 out of 10
Release Date: 28th March 2012
Directors: Peter Lord & Jeff Newitt: (Shaun The Sheep Movie / Chicken Run / Wallace & Gromit In The Case Of The Were-Rabbit / Flushed Away)
Voice Cast: Hugh Grant, David Tennant, Jeremy Piven, Martin Freeman, Imelda Staunton, Brendan Gleeson, Ashley Jensen, Lenny Henry, Russell Tovey, David Schneider with Brian Blessed and Salma Hayek
Writer: Gideon Defoe
Fans of Ardman Studios will not feel short changed by this wonderful family film. Choosing early on to expand their repertoire beyond the ever amazing Wallace & Gromit brand with Chicken Run, they continue their unpredictable work cycle with a lively expansion of cinema’s fleeting obsession with all things pirate-y. Great flair and originality along with a broad yet clever sense of humour set Ardman‘s films out from the pack. There’s something very British about them. The eccentricities seem all to comfortable and familiar. The voice casts are always spot on, ranging from the heights of Hollywood with the likes of Salma Hayek (FROM DUSK TILL DAWN) or Mel Gibson (MAD MAX) to the perochial TV favourite with Peter Sallis (THE LAST OF THE SUMMER WINE – TV) as the voice of Wallace. In The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists, we have an adventurous Hugh Grant (NINE MONTHS), having a crack at a role way outside his boring comfort zone. I’m more than pleased to report that he is perfect and funny as the generously bearded Captain Pirate.
The plot is a riotous bolt around Victorian England and the high seas as a wandering Charles Darwin (DAVID TENNANT – THE DECOY BRIDE) discovers that the Captain’s parrot is actually the last living dodo. A villainous Queen Victoria (IMELDA STAUNTON – VERA DRAKE) and a quest to become the world’s most renowned pirate of the year also get swirled into the eddying mix. Even Brian Blessed (MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING) lends his vocal chords as the Pirate King as though to endorse the whole shebang.
Great gags both visual and spoken are at a high rate and the stop motion animation is as brilliant as we’ve come to expect. Some of the drawn animation is also very eye catching, with very witty usage of a world sea map. A largely surprising soundtrack punctuates the fun. Each year I go to see one animation so I choose carefully. In 2o12, this was a no brainer and it also stands as one of the best family films of the year regardless of nationality. But you don’t need telling that do you? Ardman are a national treasure and on the basis of this I think they always will be.
8 out of 10: One of the best family action comedies for many a year. I can’t think of anyone who would dislike this. Well maybe my friend Lord Dan Wallis who only likes Sudanese Docu-dramas about the migratory habits of Salt Squids…
WHERE DO I RECOGNISE THAT VOICE FROM?
- Hugh Grant: The Man from UNCLE, The Rewrite, Cloud Atlas, Did You Hear About The Morgans?, Music and Lyrics, American Dreamz, Bridget Jones 2, Love Actually, Two Days Notice, About a Boy, Bridget Jones, Small Time Crooks, Mickey Blue Eyes, Notting Hill, Extreme Measures, Restoration, Sense and Sensibility, Nine Months, The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain, An Awfully Big Adventure, Sirens, Four Weddings and a Funeral, The Remains Of The Day, Bitter Moon, Impromptu, The Big Man, The Lair Of The White Worm, Maurice, White Mischief
- David Tennant: Jessica Jones (TV), Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles (voice) (TV), W1A (TV), Broadchurch (TV), What We Did On Our Holiday, Postman Pat (voice), Doctor Who – Day of the Doctor, Nativity 2, The Decoy Bride, Fright Night (2011), St Trinians 2, Glorious 39, Dr Who (TV), Harry Potter & The Goblet Of Fire, LA Without a Map
- Jeremy Piven: Entourage, Sin City 2, Mr Selfridge (TV), So Undercover, Entourage (TV), Spy Kids 4, Rock-N-Rolla, The Kingdom, Smokin’ Aces, Cars (voice), Two For The Money, Scary Movie 3, Runaway Jury, Black Hawk Down, Old School, Serendipity, Rush Hour 2, Family Man, Very Bad Things, Kiss The Girls, Grosse Point Blank, Larger Than Life, Heat (1995), Dr Jekyll & Ms Hyde, Miami Rhapsody, Judgment Night, Singles, Say Anything, Lucas
- Martin Freeman: Captain America 3, The Hobbit – Battle of the Five Armies, Fargo (TV), Svengali, The Hobbit – The Desolation of Smaug, Sherlock Holmes (TV), Saving Santa (voice), The World’s End, The Hobbit – An Unexpected Journey, Wild Target (2010), The Good Night, The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy (2006), Breaking and Entering, Hot Fuzz, Love Actually, Swinging With The Finkels, Nativity, Nightwatching, Confetti, The Low Down, Ali G In Da House, The Office (TV)
- Imelda Staunton: Paddington (voice), Pride (2014), Maleficent, Arthur Christmas (voice), The Awakening, Another Year, Psychoville (TV), Harry Potter- part 7, Alice In Wonderland (voice), Three and Out, Taking Woodstock, A Bunch Of Amateurs, Harry Potter- part 4, Freedom Writers, Shadow Man, Little Britain (TV), Nanny McPhee, Vera Drake, Blackball, Bright Young Things, Crush, Another Life, Chicken Run (voice), Shakespeare In Love, Remember Me? (1997), Twelfth Night (1996), Sense and Sensibility, Much Ado About Nothing (1993), Peter’s Friends
- Brendan Gleeson: Assassin’s Creed, In The Heart of the Sea, Trespass Against Us, Suffragette, Song of the Sea (voice), Stonehearst Asylum, The Grand Seduction, Calvary, The Smurfs 2 (voice), The Raven, Safe House, Albert Nobbs, The Guard, Harry Potter- part 7, Green Zone, In Bruges, Beouwulf (mo-cap), Harry Potter- part 4 & 5, Breakfast On Pluto, Kingdom Of Heaven, The Village, Troy, Cold Mountain, Dark Blue, Gangs Of New York, 28 Days Later, AI- Artificial Intelligence, The Tailor Of Panama, Mission Impossible 2, Lake Placid, This Is My Father, The General (1998), I Went Down, A Further Gesture, The Butcher Boy, Turbulence, Trojan Eddie, Michael Collins, Braveheart, Into The West
- Ashley Jensen: The Lobster, The Legend of Barney Thomson, All Stars, Hysteria, Gnomeo & Juliet (voice), Ugly Betty (TV), How To Train Your Dragon (voice), Nativity, A Cock & Bull Story, Extras (TV)
- Lenny Henry: Penelope, Harry Potter & The Prisoner of Azkhaban (voice), Mirrormask (voice), Chef (TV), True Identity, The Lenny Henry Show (TV),
- Russell Tovey: The Lady In The Van, Banished (TV), Moomins On The Riviera (voice), Blackwood, Effie Gray, Pride (2014), Muppets Most Wanted, Grabbers, Tower Block, Huge, The History Boys
- David Schneider: Plebs (TV), Arthur Christmas (voice), Horrid Henry, The Infidel, Churchill- The Hollywood Years, Fat Slags, Blackball, 28 Days Later, You’re Dead, The Trial (1993)
- Brian Blessed: As You Like It (2006), Alexander, Star Wars- Phantom Menace (Voice), Hamlet (1996), Chasing The Deer, Much Ado About Nothing (1993),Robin Hood- Prince Of Thieves, Henry V (1989), Blackadder (TV), Flash Gordon (1980), Z-Cars (TV)
- Salma Hayek: Everly, Grown Ups 2, 30 Rock (TV), Here Comes The Boom, Savages (2012), Puss In The Boots (TV), Grown Ups, Cirque Du Freak- The Vampire’s Assistant, Across The Universe, Ugly Betty (TV), Ask The Dust, Bandidas, After The Sunset, Once Upon a Time In Mexico, Spy Kids 3, Frida, Hotel, Traffic, Timecode 2000, Wild Wild West, Dogma, The Faculty, 54, Fools Rush In, Breaking Up, Fled, From Dusk Till Dawn, Fair Game (1994), Desperado, Mi Vida Loca