Ardman Animation returned to the big screen in 2012 with this adaptation of the Children novel series, The Pirates!.
After building model sets in order to plan out a CGI animation similar to their 2011 Arthur Christmas, they quickly decided to return to their roots and this 3-D adventure was filmed as a stop-motion movie and is much the better for it.
The story itself, whilst following real life characters such as Queen Victoria and Charles Darwin, is pure, adulterated fiction, not quite from the school of Ridley Scott in which he claims to be making historical epics whilst taking liberties, I grant you, but still, I’m still having to explain to my 5 year old daughter that Queen Victoria was a super villain as portrayed here! We follow a crew of Pirates, lead by The Pirate Captain (Hugh Grant) as he attempts to win the converted pirate of the year but to no avail.
After an encounter with Charles Darwin (David Tennent), he learns that the ships “parrot”, Polly, is in fact a thought to be extinct Dodo and the pair along with his crew, return to England in order to win Scientist Of The Year as well. But Queen Victoria wants the bird, in order to eat it with other world leaders who gather to taste rarest cuisine.
My main issue with this film is that Victoria is presented a villain and this is now how my 5 year old daughter, who loves this film by the way, now looks upon as a baddie! But other than that this is a witty film built on wit. Every frame contains a joke of some kind, whether it be in the background, audible or part of the action.
Ardman’s style is unmistakable and quintessentially British and I suspect that whilst some international audiences will find this quaint, it will probably be lost on many.
But this is an underrated adventure, with lovable characters, villains and all told at a good pace.
Not something to be used for your history homework but still and enjoyable romp none the less.