The film is done in a refined version of Aardman's classic style, with sight gags piled one upon the other, such that we're planning to go back a second time just to try to catch more. (The credits are worth sitting through because they give you close ups of the many posters, portraits, and other graphics that decorate the "sets".) The seamless subtlety of the stop-motion, particularly in the character faces and expressions, makes you forget it's done with "clay" and meshes completely with CGI generated backgrounds.
The movie begins with Queen Victoria (voice by Imelda Staunton) getting a briefing from her Admiral on Britain's rulership of the seas, which is complete except for the nagging, minor, pirate problem. This sets Victoria off into a rant against pirates, whom she hates because, among other reasons, they are anachronistic. (Which is quite true for her time, and a satirical swipe at "Pirates of the Carribean"--.)
Cut to somewhere at sea, where The Pirate Captain (Hugh Grant) is planning his campaign to win Pirate of the Year after many failures. In real life, any pirate who managed to keep himself, his crew, and his ship alive for twenty years would have been a great success. However, Pirate of the Year is based largely on how much booty you can bring to the judging, and he is far outclassed by rivals "Peg Leg Hastings," " Cutlass Liz," and reigning champion, "Black Bartleby."
Frustrated, he scours the seas for more treasure, coming up empty until he overtakes Charles Darwin's survey ship, "The Beagle". Darwin (David Tennant) beguiles the Pirate Captain by telling him that he already has something that may be of "incalulable worth." However, Darwin's plan involves sailing to London and into the teeth of Queen Victoria's emnity.
Lots of slapstick swashbuckling ensues. It turns out that not only does Darwin have a hidden agenda, so does Victoria, who turns out to be a formidable foe.
The ultimate result is very funny, and thouroughly enjoyable. Suitable for all ages old enough to follow the plot.
This entry was originally posted at http://sinister-sigils.dreamwidth.org/208639.html. Please comment there using OpenID.