With so much experience behind the project, not to mention to success of the studio in the past, expectations were understandably high – luckily the team have played to their strengths and come out with something brilliant.
The film may not have Aardman top man Nick Park in the picture, but his co-founder Peter Lord was executive producer and co-director on the project, ensuring that the studios style shows through in every scene.
The film is an adaptation of the 2004 book of the same name and its follow up, both by Gideon Defoe, and at points the thin-ness of the plot shows through, but in all it holds together well enough to keep both old and young audiences entertained.
The real strength of the film is the throwaway lines or little touches, such as the Pirate Captain, in despair after a failed plundering attempt, announces he is retiring from pirating to make…baby clothes. Out-of-the-blue lines like these come up frequently, and are easily strong enough to induce guffaws of laughter.
It’s no secret that animation takes time, and in a recent piece in Empire Magazine, the team revealed that the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean film was pitched, written, shot, produced and released in the time that filming took for the epic stop-motion masterpiece that we have come to expect from this studio.
Every endless hour spent is worth it though, with every scene packed with detail and character, from the sea of booty to the luxurious-ness of the Pirate Captain’s beard.
The cast put on a stellar performance, particularly Hugh Grant, who is almost unrecognisable as the charismatic but baffonish Pirate Captain. Every pirate on the crew is known by their appearance rather than a name, making the characters that much more endearing.
Former Doctor David Tennant puts on his best English accent as the adorably pathetic Charles Darwin, and Martin Freeman, no stranger to number two status after playing second fiddle in Sherlock, is the voice of reason as Pirate with Scarf.
The story sees the crew jet-setting across the seas, as you might expect, as well as visiting Victorian London and taking flight in an airship as the film builds to its gripping finale.
While the film is clearly aimed at children, there’s plenty for adults to enjoy here as well, and the British-ness of the humour guarantees a smile before the credits roll.
Though this might not win hearts as much as Wallace and Gromit‘s big-screen outing, the film is a shining example of what passion and attention to detail can achieve in traditional animation, and despite falling short of ‘instant-classic’ status, this is undoubtedly one not to miss – particularly if you can get the full 3D experience.
James Michael Parry