"The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists"
I found myself somewhat more engaged by the latest Aardman animation, the brilliantly titled “The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists”, than I had been, the week before, by the perfectly decent but uninspiring “The Hunger Games”. Adapted by Gideon Defoe from his own book, directed by stop-motion veteran Peter Lord, and inspired by the incident in which Charles Darwin presented the world’s last surviving dodo to Queen Victoria, with the assistance of a band of loveable maritime brigands (liberties may have been taken with historical fact), it’s pacy, incident-packed, and constantly amusing. The voice cast, led by Hugh Grant (who seems to be clearly enjoying himself as the Pirate Captain), Martin Freeman, David Tennant and Imelda Staunton, is uniformly excellent, and the guest appearances (Lenny Henry, Jeremy Piven, Salma Hayek) are well-judged. Underneath the witty, meticulous inventiveness and vague naughtiness, there’s a message about valuing friendship over worldly glory; the soundtrack is also glorious (possibly the best ever use, in a montage, of the Clash’s “London Calling”). Vintage stuff.