While watching all the nominees for Best Animated Feature at the 85th Academy Awards, I came across Aardman Animation's entry. Well, let us see. Where to begin.
While the entire idea and concept is rather ingenious, you can't help but feel that many of these jokes have all been made before. A thousand times. No, really. And none of these characters is particularly engaging, funny or heartwarming. There's a lot of potential squandered - Captain's rivalry with the other three pirates running for Pirate of the Year, for example, seems eons more interesting than his squabbles with a very unlikable and irritable version of Charles Darwin in Victorian London.
Anyhoo, let's just flat out say it - the film's script is lumpy, tedious and sort of flat. While I still don't think it's a bad movie per se, I wouldn't say it's Academy Award material. Good things about it include the stellar use of claymation, the surprising twist midway through the second act, and about half of the climax (just before it starts to get horribly predictable). As for the voice work, most of it is okay or even good, but surprisingly some of the better known names don't put out better performances. Hugh Grant as the Captain, for example, is instantly forgettable. Martin Freeman's "Pirate With The Scarf" stands out, however. As do Brian Blessed and Salma Hayek's inevitably short but memorable turns as flamboyant Caribbean pirates.
In conclusion, while "The Pirates!" may be creative and at times genuinely enjoyable, most of it is lost in predictable and unengaging screenwriting. It may warrant a view just for some of the standout moments, but that's about it - I wouldn't recommend buying it on home video since I don't feel this is a movie you could watch more than once.