Well….I love Aardman films….(creators of Wallace & Grommit)…and directors Peter Lord (who also directed Chicken Run) and Jeff Newitt (key animator on Flushed Away) made a visually stunning clay-mation feature that is filled with panoramic views of old London, the Caribbean and the open sea! The movie’s got a talented voice cast and some great gags that are short snippets of slapstick – even some one-liners that are quite funny. However, the movie lacks two very important things; an interesting and not too predictable story and characters we should care more about.
Gideon Defoe who wrote the screenplay based on his own book….didn’t seem to capture the magic that is a feature film style animation. The movie seemed to play on the `emotions’ of the lead character called The Pirate Captain as voiced by Hugh Grant (Noting Hill, Music & Lyrics), but it seems a little shallow in the `believability’ part of this character. Hugh did a great job personifying an uptight, unaware and obviously persecuted pirate captain, but without the script it falls a little short.
Some other amazing vocal performances came from David Tennant (Fright Night, Doctor Who) who performed the not yet famous Charles Darwin and a generously evil performance by the Queen of England as voiced by Imelda Staunton (Harry Potter: OOTP, Shakespeare In Love). Other funny performances came from Anton Yelchin (Star Trek, Fright Night) as an Albino Pirate and Jeremy Piven (Entourage, The Family Man) as Black Bellamy an ego driven pirate who always wins the Pirate of The Year Award!
The sole quest of The Pirate Captain is to prove himself – after 75 attempts – that he can actually win The Pirate of the Year Award…..except he is not very bright, his crew is a literal band of misfits and he happens on a scientist (Darwin) that discovers his very own parrot is actually not a parrot but a Dodo Bird. Something thought to be extinct. Then the story shifts to being about making it on time to a Science fair. Yawn.
There are some great bits – but not enough to justify the 90 minutes or film or even the 3-D. The movie would have been just as fine outside the 3-D marketing. The kids in the audience I was in were not as into the film as I thought they might be….so overall a nice family film but probably worth waiting for on cable or the DVD.
I was disappointed but somewhat entertained.