Normally I love Aardman’s output. I think Wallace and Gromit are fantastic and I even enjoyed “Flushed Away” on some levels. “The Pirates!” is a kids film that doesn’t entirely play the film to their standards. Aardman has a talent for appealing to children without talking down to them, offering them the likes of Wallace and his put upon sidekick dog, but “The Pirates!” is so incredibly convoluted that it fails to deliver any essence of entertainment. The animation from Aardman is up to their usual quality with some wonderful stop motion scapes and hilarious characters, it just falls flat in terms of story.
“The Pirates!” was originally titled “Fun with Scientists!” and notes the central premise revolving around the adventures with Charles Darwin, but most of the film twists and turns really never quite touching on that eccentricity and genius that Aardman is accustomed to providing audiences. Aardman could do wonders with a film about misfit inept pirates who can never quite get a good job done, but “The Pirates!” flops in that regard with an endless stream of characters, and two protagonists that are often tough to root for and forgettable. Even in spite of the spirited performances from Hugh Grant and Martin Freeman, the film goes off on a tangent that never once includes an engaging or interesting narrative. There’s two pirates whom have a hard time robbing the right ships and accidentally stumble on to Charles Darwin and his pet Dodo. After considering quitting and selling baby clothes (huh?), the pirates instead turn to Darwin to enter his nearly extinct Dodo in to a science competition to win over the Queen who hates pirates.
Man, I’ve never been so bored rolling out a plot before. Imagine the confusion watching the events unfold on-screen. “The Pirates!” is filled with plenty of misunderstandings and unusual character turns, none of which are all that interesting or remotely creative as Aardman is prone to providing its fan base. I couldn’t be sure why the story was so weird, and often times the writing seemed to take surreal turns just for the sake of being surreal. The directors behind the film are better than this mediocre content, and Aardman definitely has seen better days in the way of stop motion animation. This is one of the few times I watched something from Aardman and found myself watching the clock and waiting for it to come to an end. “The Pirates!” is mediocre Aardman fare with a lack of interesting characters, an interesting premise, or anything remotely engaging.