AARDMAN are masters of short-form animation, but their more recent features have never really been able to sustain the dry wit and visual charm that made those early Wallace & Gromit films such a treat.
The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists (PG)
Voices: Hugh Grant, Martin Freeman, David Tennant, Imelda Staunton
And so it proves with this adaptation of the first in Gideon Defoe’s acclaimed series of humourous books about a crew of hapless pirates. Though it’s streets ahead of the studio’s recent forays into computer-generated animation, the wind goes out of its sails somewhere near its midpoint and no amount of shambolic action, wilfully arcane pop-culture gags or energetic voice work can really keep it going. That’s too bad because the endearingly rickety set-up promises plenty of laughs courtesy of Hugh Grant’s bumbling vocal performance as the insecure, slightly rubbish protagonist who goes by the amusingly perfunctory name of The Pirate Captain. Despondent about being so low in the pirate rankings, he sees an opportunity to rehabilitate his credentials and stock up on booty by teaming up with a snivelling Charles Darwin (David Tennant) and capitalising on the fact that he has in his possession the last ever dodo (he thought it was a fat parrot). Reluctant mismatched buddy shenanigans duly follow, but a satisfying story fails to fully evolve.