The story remains quite true to the novel, (undoubtedly as Defoe wrote the screenplay) as the rag-tag band of misfits led by the loveable Pirate Captain (Hugh Grant) set out on a mission to help their hero win the sought-after Pirate of the Year award. Having entered 20 years in a row and never won, the Pirate Captain is determined to change his fortune this year. Luck seems to be upon him when he unwittingly meets Charles Darwin (David Tenant), who promises him riches if he helps him to win a prize for scientific discovery.
Set against the background of Victoriana, the British Navy rule the seas: apart from the Caribbean, where Pirates prevent Queen Victoria from total world-domination. The Queen, voiced by Imelda Staunton is a brilliant character: totally ridiculous and utterly English, she is not what you’d expect from a nineteenth century monarch.
The rest of the supporting cast is fantastic, with Martin Freeman, Lenny Henry and Brian Blessed all supplying excellent voices for the Pirate crew. The one thing lacking from the movie, however, is the pirate names: in the novel, a great deal of entertainment comes from the repetition of wonderfully silly names such as ‘Pirate with Gout’ and ‘Surprisingly Curvaceous Pirate’, but due to the nature of film, these names rarely come up in conversation, which does detract some comic elements.
Name calling aside, the animation and visual humour makes up for the lacking elements, and are both excellently done. The map animation scenes are funny and really clever, and in a completely different style to the rest of the film. The bulk of the film is a brand of brilliantly alive and fresh stop-motion animation, courtesy of the team who brought us Wallace and Gromit, and in a world over-saturated with Tim Burton, remains original and imaginative to the bitter end.
With fantastic voice-overs and magical animation, this hilarious swashbuckling adventure deserves a lot more credit for Aardman’s painstaking work than was originally granted, especially for such a unique, silly and quintessentially English romp.