Friday, 19 September 2014

The Pirates! In An Adventure with Scientists! (2012)

AHOY! Today be "International Talk Like a Pirate Day" and me blogger bucko Hamlette be hostin' an event for it. T' mark t' occasion I'm reviewing Pirates! In An Adventure with Scientists! And now I'm goin' t' be droppin' all this pirate lingo :) *clears throat*

Pirates! In An Adventure with Scientists is a stop-motion film by Aardman - the studio behind the Wallace and Gromit films and Chicken Run. The film is based on the first book of a series by the author Gideon Defoe and it was Defoe who wrote the script for this film. If you're an American reader then you'll probably know this film as Pirates! Band of Misfits! I don't know why they changed the title in the US and I can only assume that their marketing people thought American kids wouldn't fancy seeing a movie about scientists. Bloomsbury USA did something similar with the Harry Potter books when they changed the title of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. It was because they didn't think that American children would want to read a book with the word "philosopher" in it. If I was an American I'd find that quite offensive but that's just me.

If I was to sum up this film's plot in a single sentence I'd say "It's totally mad but brilliant!" :D The film takes place in the year 1837 and the main character is the Pirate Captain (Hugh Grant). The captain is deluded and incompetent but also very charming and kind-hearted. He has the unswerving love and devotion of his entire crew. The Pirate Captain is also deeply ambitious and has spent years trying to win the much-coveted Pirate of the Year Award. The Captain fails miserably at this every single time; partly because he's terrible and partly because his rivals include the top pirates Peg-Leg Hastings (Lenny Henry), Cutlass Liz (Salma Hayek) and Black Bellamy (Jeremy Piven). The Captain decides to make one final last-ditch attempt to win the award so he and his crew go all out to get as much booty as they possibly can. They then end up capturing the ship of Charles Darwin (David Tennant) who is on a scientific voyage to look for exotic animals. When Darwin points out that the Pirate Captain's "big-boned" parrot Polly is actually the only Dodo in the world the crew then sets sail for London. Darwin has told them that unveiling Polly to the scientific community will bring them "untold riches" and the Pirate Captain is hoping that this treasure will give him what he needs to win the Pirate of the Year Award. But the crew will have to be careful because the diabolical Queen Victoria (Imelda Staunton) hates pirates and is hell-bent on riding them from the seas...

When I first found out about this Pirate blog event I initially considered doing a review of Muppet Treasure Island or Pirates of the Carribean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (the only POTC film I like). But in the end I felt I had to do this one because it's such an under-appreciated gem. This film might not be as famous as some of the other Aardman films but it's absolutely hilarious! I actually managed to miss a lot of its dialogue the first time I saw it; I couldn't hear it because I was laughing so hard from other bits of dialogue! This film just cracks me up. It's brilliantly witty and clever but also zany and whimsical. That is exactly my kind of humour! :D Even the names of the Pirate Captain's crew members are funny in this film! There's the Pirate with a Scarf (Martin Freeman) who is the Pirate Captain's first mate. There's the Pirate with Gout (Brendan Gleeson) and the Albino Pirate (Russell Tovey in the UK version; Anton Yelchin in the US). Best of all there's the Surprisingly Curvaceous Pirate (Ashley Jensen) who is a woman in drag. Apparently the silly names are a nod to the fact that in big ensemble movies no-one can ever really remember the names of all of the characters. Go on, name me all of Captain Jack Sparrow's crew members without looking it up! I dare you! The animation really adds to the humour of the film as well. There always seems to be something going on in the background. There are funny shop signs and posters with puns. Darwin's monkey butler Bobo communicates with flashcards (which is one of my favourite things about the film!) This film took two and a half years to make and you can really tell that a lot of creativity and love went into it. It's a great-looking film.

The voice acting in this film is terrific as well. Hugh Grant might seem like an incredibly odd choice to play the Pirate Captain but he's surprisingly brilliant in the role! Generally speaking I'm not a Hugh Grant fan but he's great in this film and it's obvious that he was having the time of his life voicing his character. Martin Freeman, David Tennant and Imelda Staunton also deserve some special mention I think but, honestly, everyone in this film does a great job. And the music in this film! The soundtrack features great songs from the likes of The Clash, Flight of the Conchords and Jimmy Cliff! :D

Pirates! In An Adventure with Scientists got great reviews, did well at the UK box office and won an Oscar nomination but because the film didn't do very well at the US box office the chances of it getting a sequel are very low. This is such a shame! :( I haven't even read Gideon Defoe's books but I would love to see Pirates! In An Adventure with Communists! and Pirates! In An Adventure with Romantics! With those titles how could they not be good?!

I absolutely love this film. I've found all of Aardman's films enjoyable but this is hands down my favourite. The pacing drops slightly in the middle and I wish we could have found out more about some of the crew members but, apart from that, I can't think of any other flaws that this film has. It's honestly one of my favourites. It's hilariously funny and is a film that both adults and children can enjoy. The plot is bonkers but it's hugely entertaining and heart-warming. The characters are likeable and fun. The voice acting is excellent. It has some terrific action scenes - the bathtub scene and the scene where we get to see Queen Victoria's lethal fighting skills come to mind :D The animation is great and it has a kickin soundtrack. I thought I'd put the trailer for this film in this review as well. It's awesome! This is a film about a pirate sailor and we're singing in the trailer! Oh my word, I LOVE it! I demand more singing trailers in the world!

Rating: 5/5
Film Certificate Rating: U


Sarah said...

Great review Hannah! I've been wanting to see this since it came out. It's just been sitting at the back of my mind. I'm definitely going to jump at the first opportunity I get now, it sounds so good!

The UK title is obviously better than the American one -- it had the word "adventure" in it! I always want to see movies that have that word in their title. :D

I wonder why Russell Tovey is in the UK version and Anton Yelchin is in the US, but no one else is cast twice? Not that I mind about that, I'd rather hear Anton anyway. :D

Hamlette said...

(I believe that the reason the HP title was changed was because in America, "philosopher" tends to mean "someone who sits around and thinks about stuff." Which does sound dull.)

Ahoy! I be a big fan of Wallace and Gromit, and me library system actually has a copy of this, so I'll be getting it sometime soon.

Thankee for joinin' me first blogathon! I hope ye be having as much fun as I be :-)

DKoren said...

Thanks for the clarification on the names of the movie. I was looking at the screenshots, thinking, I Thought I'd seen part of this. My family caught the end of it one day and thought it was pretty funny. We're all big Wallace & Grommit fans as well. Definitely want to rent this one and see it all the way through. I love that Charles Darwin is in it!

Kara said...

It really does sound fun! I vaguely remember seeing something about it when it first came out, but the US title did nothing to convince me to watch. The UK title however! You've convinced me. I must watch it soon! :)

Hannah said...

Sarah - Why thank you, darling! I really hope you'll enjoy it!

I much prefer the UK title too! It's an adventure! With scientists! :D

I've heard Anton Yelchin's voice acting for this movie and personally I find Russell Tovey's voice acting a lot funnier. But that could be just because I heard Russell Tovey's acting first. It felt really weird hearing someone else do the voice for the character!

Hamlette - "Philosopher" means the same thing over here too and it was still a huge bestseller, which is why I find it so weird that they changed the title. Who knows what they were thinking? *shrugs*

I really hope you'll love this movie and thanks for doing this Pirate blogathon! :) *high fives* Oh wait, that's not very pirate-y is it? Erm... YAR!!!

DKoren - Thanks! And it's always lovely to see a new commenter! :)

Kara - Ha ha! Yes, the UK title is so much more appealing! I really hope you'll all like this movie. And again, it's lovely to see a new face :) Thank you!

Manette said...

I've seen this now! Twice! It was an amazingly random experience! All the voice actors are superb and it looks so darn good! I LOVE IT. Oh my. I cracked up countless times while watching, but I COMPLETELY lost it at ChickenTennantDarwin! I'm almost laughing aloud just thinking about that scene when he chickens around, and I'm in a public place right now so people will probably think I'm super weird...

Actually, TennantDarwin was the main reason (among many others) why I wanted to see this film so bad. If there's a film where David Tennant plays Charles Darwin, there's no way I can skip it. Especially if this Darwin has a crush on Queen Vic who has the voice of Imelda Staunton. So many amazing things coming together!!

I would love to see The Pirates! In an Adventure with Communists made someday :'D

Hannah said...

Oh I'm SO glad that you loved it! :D I's hard for me to pick a favourite moment in the film when I've literally got about half a dozen scenes from it in my head. I guess that just gives me an excellent excuse to rewatch it again!

I'd rather have a Romantics sequel myself :) It would be hilarious to see them tackle Byron's character in a family film!