CAUTION: Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
The Pirates! In an Adventure With Scientists (3D)
(or :Band of Misfits if you're in the US.)
88 mins / Dir. Peter Lord
Desperate to win the Pirate of the Year Award, Pirate Captain faces humiliation at the hands of his peers until a chance encounter with Charles Darwin brings the Pirate Crew to Victorian London, and they cross paths with renowned pirate-hater, Queen Victoria herself…
The Good: A wonderfully sharp script and brisk pacing keeps The Pirates whizzing along more or less constantly. Thankfully free of the twee-ness that can often hold Aardman features back, there's arguably more here for the adults than there is for the kids. The broad sight-gags and slapstick will appeal to both, for sure, but there's a swathe of references and visual easter-eggs targeted at the older generation, which raise it above your standard 'kid-film' (I swear blind that was the postbox from Danger Mouse), and the soundtrack is a Brit-snapshot of the seventies and eighties. Marvellous stuff.
The voice-acting is everything you'd expect from a cast as reliable as this, with Hugh Grant, David Tennant and Imelda Staunton all leading strongly, and Russell Tovey, Martin Freeman, Ashley Jensen and Brendan Gleeson giving a lot of character without jostling for position.
What I enjoyed the most was the unabashed silliness of the whole thing. The pirates' obsession with ham, their misguided belief that they can disguise themselves at all, Charles Darwin's hyper-intelligent and totally deadpan manpanzee sidekick; all of these (and more) could have easily fallen flat or been overkill, but each works on its own and as part of an hour-and-a-half tapestry of absurdity.
Great, great fun. And I'm not even really into the pirate-thing.
The Bad: The pace seemed to slacken between acts 2 and 3 while the obligatory sentimentality was played out, but that's par for the course anyway, and was only noticeable because of the scenes surrounding it. Also, at several points I looked over my 3D glasses and what was on-screen was exactly the same. Not a bad conversion, but underused certainly, and all-the-darker for being in 3D.
The Ugly: Nothing to report. Seriously.
After the Credits: There's a bunch of callbacks and background-props to have a good look at during the end credits if you're interested, but once the screen goes black, that's the end. There's no content, if you know what I mean, so the kids may not appreciate waiting around.
All-in-All: Unashamedly a kids-film, but when it's done as brilliantly as this, who cares? Sequels and spin-offs look to be a certainty, but that's fine by me.
^^ A very, very strong six. Almost full marks, but I don't know if I'll get a lot out of seeing it again, even with the easter-eggs.
• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.