Director: Peter Lord, Jeff Newitt
Nominated:Best Animated Feature Film
The latest film to come out of Aardman Animations retains the iconic style of his most famous characters, Wallace and Gromit. It’s packed full of incredible British acting talent with Hugh Grant, Martin Freeman, Imelda Staunton, David Tennant, Lenny Henry, Brian Blessed and Russell Tovey all lending their voices to the motley crew of misfit pirates and surrounding characters. Hugh Grant still somehow manages to be the charming bumbling Englishman as the Pirate Captain.
I love the little elements that Aardman throw in like the pet parrot being a dodo unbeknownst to the crew, cockney baiting being a sport and the Pirate with Gout having a Blue Peter badge pinned to his hat. I love stop-motion animation so I’m glad that there isn’t one but three stop-motion films nominated in the Best Animated Feature Film category at this years Oscars. There’s just something about stop-motion that allows you to create a really unique visual style, more so than computer animation.
The humor comes from just how inept the Pirates are – numerous failed attempts to plunder ships finally results in them encountering Charles Darwin (David Tennant). They are all stereotypes – an albino pirate, a woman masquerading as a pirate, pirate more wooden than human, the big burly black pirate and of course the irish pirate – and are known by their descriptions rather than anything resembling actual names. Martin Freeman is again relegated to the unappreciated sidekick position of Number 2, although here he is by far the more capable Pirate and the only vaguely sensible one in the whole crew.
The map work is wonderful, full of amusing vignettes … I especially like the duty-free run in Calais … all set to The Clash’s ‘London Calling’. An encounter with a kitchen volcano (baking powder and vinegar) leads to seeing Darwin with his iconic beard.
The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists! is faintly ridiculous and yet at the same time that’s entirely where it gets its charm from; it doesn’t take itself too seriously. While I enjoyed this film in some ways I find it more enjoyable watching Aardman films for the little elements they throw in than for the actual story.