Yes it is puppets and animation but it is Aardman Studios, the home of Wallace and Gromit, the pedigree for this movie means that without even knowing the plot, many people (like myself) will attend in the hope that the usual wry humour will be present. It was. Peter Lord & Jeff Newitt (both Chicken Run, 2000) have continued to “push the boat out” no pun intended with this movie. Technically it is of the standard defining level expected of Aardman. It took 5 years to make this movie, and looking at the detail it is easy to see why.
The plot is straight forward, Captain Pirate (Hugh Grant, Love Actually 2003) wants to win Pirate of the year, and as a result he falls in with some scientists, namely Charles Darwin (David Tennant, Doctor Who 2005+) who sees Captain’s parrot for what it really is – a Dodo. In London to win a prize, he crosses paths with Queen Victoria who hates Pirates with a vengeance, she also wants the Dodo! The intra-pirate japes are first class, the visual jokes are as usual great.
Some movie franchises have a signature element such as Taxi (from the Luc Besson stable) where we have the rush to the airport/hospital etc. at the start; with Aardman it is the chase scene. Ever since Wallace and Gromit started laying train tracks in that famous chase sequence out of The Wrong Trousers (1993), we have come to expect something special from them, thankfully they delivered. I mentioned earlier in a privious discussion regarding Wrath of the Titans (2012) that I feel there is not enough time given to characterisation, yet in this relatively short movie we see Number two, “Scarf” (Martin Freeman, Sherlock 2010+) proving to be the loyal side-kick always looking out for his boss, then there’s Gout, the Irish pirate, played brilliantly by Brendan Gleeson (Albert Nobbs, 2011), Russell Tovey (Being Human, 2008+) plays Albino Pirate nicely. Other members of the supporting cast include Jeremy Piven (Entourage 2004+), Brian Blessed (Flash Gordon, 1980) and Imelda Staunton (Vera Drake, 2004) who plays Queen Victoria.
I an interesting turn Lord, Newitt and Defoe manage to turn the Monarch and various other world leaders in to “the bad guys”. Her ship the “QV1” is like something out of Wild Wild West (1999 & also staring Salma Hayek). Does the plot work, certainly. Can it stand up to other recent productions such as The Adventures of Tintin (Stephen Spielberg, 2011); with ease. The line about a nose being too small for his head may be a swipe at Tintin (where it was felt in some cases the characters’ noses were too large). It even stands up well with the Disney Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.
9/10 great fun, lives up to the Aardman reputation and entertains everybody, young and old. Some feedback I got was that people need to see it a second time to catch all of the jokes, I remember saying that about Chicken Run…