You know with how much the life of pirates or even ninjas have been romanticized, you really have to wonder just how much truth pretty much ANY pirate movie has in comparison to what actually happened in piratey times. I doubt you'd find any in the movie where you have scene montages that literally have scenary and water blowing and twirling the ship around, have characters from 1837 compete in scientific or pirate award shows with actual trophies in them or well, have an actual Dodo be the ship's parrot, but just saying what movie really is accurate? Honestly though I wasn't coming in expecting a real accurate portrayal of the scurvy dogs of the seven seas. I wanted a fun animated children's pirate movie. And hey I give props to any studio nowadays who is making a movie in something OTHER then CGI so I would be fine giving that support. Besides though I haven't seen a full length Aardman animated film, I liked the Wallace and Grommit movies and heard all sorts of good things about Arthur Christmas so wondered if this would have the same charm as those movies. So the question is does it and the answer is yes, though there are a few nos.
I guess I'll get the negatives out of the way. Though there were some impressive stuff with the stop motion (mostly the ship being blown around as well as the action scene with the hot tub sliding down the stairs and the sword duel in the ship. And the entrance of the three big pirates in the bar) sometimes it felt more stiff or unnatural. Like some shots where it was more of a CGI model of the ship or when the characters were walking but you only saw their upper halves so they didn't have to animate the walking. I know Stop Motion takes a long time to do but it is kind noticable some of the times they cut corners. Also though the story wasn't as cliched as I feared, it still got pretty predictable. You know with how the Captain (yeah none of the pirates of the main crew don't have names. More on that later) was obviously trusting Darwin when he shouldn't and broke up with his crew. I guess there is always a sense of drama or heart they want to portray whenever someone says they've broken up and then we see them get back together again but I find that more repeitive and annoying with how much I've seen it in movies and this one didn't really do it for me. I mean the Flight of the Concorhds song was pretty good but the actual break up felt fairly staged. Also Queen Victoria felt fairly inconsistent. I mean she has the first scene in the movie making a big deal on how she hates pirates but then instantly just tries using the captain when he finds out he has a DoDo. I know at the end she said she hated pirates since they were part of a dying order but I don't know, could of done a better job making that opening scene about her connect with the rest of the movie. Also really would of liked to see more of the acutal rival pirates. Like maybe actually see Peg Leg or Cutlass Liz (would of been funnier if they got Penelope Cruz to voice her instead of Salem Hayek considering Cruz's connection to Pirates of the Carribean series but she did okay) or Black Bellamy. I mean really the three do have amusing entrances into the tavern and then what a couple of dream sequences and appearence in the awards and at the end and that's it. Would of been better if they were trying to get the Dodo as well hearing about it and interacted more with the rest of the actual crew. Also a couple of gags didn't particuarly work for me (Charles Darwin being mistaken as an exotic creature when he looked like some sort of chicken man. Felt like the guards should of been smarter then that IMHO) but that's just kind of a minor quibble since for the most part the comedy did work for me.
Which yeah is the movie's biggest strength: it's sense of humor. I mean I do like how there is a good sense of commadrity between the crew. It was pretty clever (well at least IMHO anyway) to not give any of the crew a name. I mean we know who the pirate captain is and who the first mate is and Polly has a name but everyone else on the crewe is just identifiable more for their position or running gag. Like the surprsiingly curvacious pirate who is actually a woman dressing up like a man. I was thinking they were going to give her a big shocking reveal moment or have seriously admit that to the captain but no they actually did something pretty clever by not ever addressing it. Yeah it was totally obvious and they do make refrence towards it at the end but she never has a big scene about it and the scenes of her having to put on the beard or being in the tub were pretty good. I also like the Albino pirate who had to pretend to be a scientist and the big hulky Al Roker pirate being "The Pirate who likes Kittens and Sunsets". Still the point is though you don't know their names you get a sense of how the crew works and that they are close with each other. From their love of ham night to how they try cheering the captain up to disguins together to even coming back and forgiving pirate captain at the end. I guess maybe this is a bit of the one piece
fan in me showing but I really like the idea of a pirate crew being like a family and getting along so swimmingly even if they jab and take shots at the other.
Plus like I said there are a lot of good chuckle worthy jokes in this one that I laughed at: the crew fighting over if treasure is better then cutlasses, The Pirate Captain's running joke about a shark vs a Spainard or something like that effect even other people kept bringing up, the pirate captain filling out the form and being proud of his shingings, the various failed raids at the kids ship and the ghost ship, Charles Darwin being so pathetic in love, The pirates dressing up like girls scouts, the captain talking with that other pirate captain who was dying being tied to the boat, Mr. Bobo being a monkey who talks threw cue cards (who I admit always made me laugh whenever he had a card. Like his shouting card or "uh oh" cards or "dun dun dunnnnnnn" cards), the crew members watching and cheering the other scientists invention, "this is the most scientific adventure we've ever been on", the queen have dozens upon dozen of failed booby traps, the judges of the pirates awards (there were other good visual gags but besides the ones I mentioned with the montage and the ending bits I think the awards show had the best one), The captain getting charles Darwin to pilot the air ship while he relaxed, Vicotria stuffing herself in the dumwaiter to get to the captain, Darwin finding love on some island and the end where the crew was eaten by a beast that turned out to be on their map and then it spitting them out.
So yeah overall I do have to say I do like this movie. It could of been a lot better by either just making it more of an adventure comedy or making it darker (I mean they did throw in some swear words and actual death so it wasn't trying to be a totally clean family comedy) but for it what it was I found it very enjoyable. Besides some of the more cliched parts at least. Probably not one of my favs I've seen this spring season but decently high up there actually.