Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Front Page - LEIGH PAATSCH

Ha- ha, me hearties.




Di­rec­tor: Peter Lord, Jeff Ne­witt Stars: The voices of Hugh Grant, David Ten­nant, Imelda Staunton, Martin Free­man, Salma Hayek

Ha ha, me hearties!

HERE comes Aard­man Stu­dios to save the school hol­i­days on be­half of all chil­dren.

The Bri­tish stop- mo­tion an­i­ma­tion spe­cial­ists ( best known for Wal­lace & Gromit ) have not dab­bled in their trade­mark mas­tery of hand- ma­nip­u­lated Plas­ticine since 2005.

So The Pi­rates! Band of Misfits ( based on Gideon Defoe’s pop­u­lar Pi­rates! book se­ries) is a wel­come re­turn to what Aard­man does best: fea­ture­length fam­ily en­ter­tain­ment that never lets any­one down.

The year is 1837 and the com­pe­ti­tion is hot­ter than ever for first place in the an­nual Pi­rate of the Year Awards.

For some rea­son, the not- so- dreaded Pi­rate Cap­tain ( Hugh Grant) thinks he’s in with a chance. How­ever, on past form, he would have to be a rank out­sider. Af­ter all, this is the guy who tried to rob a ghost ship of its non- ex­is­tent booty.

Nev­er­the­less, Pi­rate Cap­tain’s loyal crew­men haven’t the col­lec­tive heart to tell their beloved boss he shouldn’t bother.

So soon enough, such gener­i­cally-named sup­port staff as Pi­rate with a Scarf ( Martin Free­man), Al­bino Pi­rate ( Rus­sell Tovey), Pi­rate with Goat ( Bren­dan Glee­son) and Sur­pris­ingly Cur­va­ceous Pi­rate ( Ash­ley Jensen) are urg­ing Pi­rate Cap­tain to set sail for Blood Is­land.

Don’t worry. The lo­ca­tion is not nearly as omi­nous as it sounds. This is where all en­tries for the awards are sub­mit­ted.

The jour­ney ahead is a reck­less and round­about one, tak­ing in many bun­gled raids on the high seas, a chance en­counter with a cu­ri­ous na­ture geek named Charles Dar­win ( David Ten­nant), and an even chancier in­ter­ac­tion with the pi­rate- hat­ing Queen Vic­to­ria ( Imelda Staunton).

Mean­while, the blun­der­ing Pi­rate Cap­tain must prove he is a match for such in­ter­na­tion­ally renowned plun­der­ers as Black Bel­lamy ( Jeremy Piven), Cut­lass Liz ( Salma Hayek) and Peg- Leg Hast­ings ( Lenny Henry).

Sur­pris­ingly, for all the ster­ling work of the ex­cel­lent voice cast, it is one mi­nor char­ac­ter that does not speak com­pre­hen­sively at all that steals the show.

So do keep an eye on the droll an­tics of Mr Bobo, a chimp owned by Dar­win that can com­mu­ni­cate with hu­mans through the use of flash cards. This mon­key is all funny busi­ness.

And while The Pi­rates! Band of Misfits does not quite rise to the lofty heights Aard­man has scaled in the past, it is still a lively, en­joy­able and very clever ef­fort.

As al­ways, Aard­man’s in­ven­tive vis­ual de­sign work uses clay­ma­tion skills of the high­est class. In even the most ba­sic scenes, there is just as much comic busi­ness hap­pen­ing in the back­ground as there is in the fore­ground.

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