Reviews: The Pirates In An Adventure With Scientists

One of the Most Enjoyable Films Ever Made.

I've always been a fan of Aardman, and it seems like, as animation empires rise and fall around them, the company has not only weathered the storm but produced films of greater and greater quality. After the remarkable, witty and intelligent Arthur Christmas was released just a few months prior, you'd think a silly-looking little film about pirates would get shafted in the process... however, Aardman showed their dedication towards their products in creating one of the most energetic, silly, and laugh-out-loud hilarious films ever.

For the most part, Pirates ditches the emotional weight of most animated films released these days. The Pirates! is pure zaniness, and the film's plot is nothing more than a simple platform to build the comedy from. This works perfectly to the film's advantage. Anyone who's ever enjoyed one of Aardman's prior films, or any piece of British comedy, will find themselves keeling over as the pirates launch joke after joke at the audience and almost all of them hit the mark squarely. The film's absurd, Pythonesque humor harkens back to a simpler age of animation, when deep emotional drama wasn't necessary to satisfy an audience. The Pirates! works on the same principles through which the best of Looney Tunes cartoons and other successful comedies have worked for decades; a simple setup as a base for rapid-fire, serially escalating and on-target gags. In fact, the film can be considered a perfect fusion of Monty Python and Looney Tunes.

There's nothing wrong with the thoughtful comedy-dramas that have characterized Disney and Dreamworks' most recent works, but if you want a film that you can watch from start-to-finish laughing non-stop, I give The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists the highest of recommendations. The claymation is top-notch, the voice cast hits the mark splendidly, and the film stands as a comedy classic that will hopefully emerge from obscurity in the near future.

Good, but not on Academy Award level

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.