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Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists!, The (3D)


Stars: Voices: Hugh Grant, Imelda Staunton, David Tennant, Brendan Gleeson, Salma Hayek, Jeremy Piven, Brian Blessed, Lenny Henry, Martin Freeman, Ashley Jensen

Director: Peter Lord

After the glories of Wallace and Gromit, and the rollicking wit of Chicken Run, this new venture from Aardman Animation proves, despite liberal helpings of 'pirate grog' at the preview screening, somewhat underwhelming. The movie is great fun but, despite all its invention and background detail, there's a distinct lack of laugh-out-loud moments in a story whose verbose title perhaps displays a lack of confidence in its possibilities.

The Pirate Captain (Grant) is constantly frustrated in his search for gold in his bid to become Pirate of the Year. But the real gold on his vessel lies in the ship's parrot which, as we can all see, is a dodo, thought to be extinct. When the Captain boards Charles Darwin's ship, the Beagle, the noted (and devious) naturalist (Tennant) seizes on the discovery of the flightless squawker to set himself up as Scientist of the Year, and suitor to the woman he adores - Queen Victoria (Staunton), who turns out to be the villain of the piece.

There's lots of 'comic acting', as you'd expect, amid the distinguished voice artists, who ensure amusement is had, if not laughter itself. Darwin, for example, has an educated monkey, who holds up messages that lack imagination and simply aren't funny. One hesitates to be too down on a labour of love that took five years to make, but has to ask: where are Wallace and Gromit when you need them?

David Quinlan

UK 2012. UK Distributor: Sony (Columbia). Colour by deluxe/Technicolor.
87 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: U.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 24 Mar 2012