Pirates of the Clay-animation
Aardman are second only to Pixar as the studio who audiences trust to bring them consistently entertaining and inventive big-screen animations. With such tremendous reputation it’s only natural that every new project is met with heightened expectations and they usually deliver. However, following consecutive disappointments, Flushed Away and Arthur Christmas, Aardman’s fifth feature film received a surprising amount of trepidation.
Loosely based on the first book of Gideon Defoe’s The Pirates! series, Aardman’s The Pirates! In an Adventure With Scientists follows luckless pirate The Pirate Captain and his crew of calamitous amateurs. In retaliation to the arrogant buccaneers who regard them as embarrassments, they embark on a dangerous quest with Charles Darwin in an attempt to prove their critics wrong and win The Pirate of the Year award.
Predictably the narrative is anchored to the filmmaker’s stellar understanding of comedy and while the jokes are largely directed towards its younger audience it also includes plenty of adult-friendly material. Satire, innuendo and smart references are combined with slapstick, silliness and visual gags to provide the hilarious family oriented entertainment the studio is renowned for.
Aardman are masters of their craft and while technology has advanced significantly during the company’s development and their creations are no longer blemished with the model maker’s thumbprints they still carry the company’s hallmarks. The visual style for The Pirates! is created with a deft blend of stop-motion claymation and CGI and the result is a beautifully crafted film brimming with wonderfully caricatured characters and imaginative settings.
While Aardman are still far from their iconic masterpieces, The Pirates! is certainly an improvement from their previous ventures. With this swashbuckling return to form the prestigious animation studio have created a film that remains anchored to their sentiments; to provide light-hearted entertainment for the whole family.