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DVD Review - The Pirates! In an Adventure With ...

06 Sep 2012
Aardman's latest comes to home video and it's just fabulous
WIN THE PIRATES ON DVD PLUS A GOODIE BAG HERE! Eager to win the Pirate of the Year award, a group of salty sea dogs and their fearless, luxuriantly bearded Pirate Captain, set out on the high seas and encounter (among other things) Charles Darwin and a super smart ape.
The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists fairly charmed our pants off when it arrives in cinemas in March. The latest stop motion marvel from Aardman Animation, it mixes their usual quirky humour with an impeccably crafted world, impressive visuals and a playful tone.
The Pirates! DVD packshot
The Pirates! DVD packshot
Aardman has been nobly keeping the stop motion art alive and in truth its never been healthier – with both ParaNorman and Frankenweenie also hitting screens in 2012. There’s something about the process which continues to astound and astonish me, the almost indescribably minute and iterative work which brings scenes to life a single frame at a time. There’s also a sense that these movies take so long to make that a little more effort goes into the other important elements – like the design and script – meaning the level of quality in stop motion movies is well above average. The Pirates! is undoubtedly one of Aardman’s best and certainly their most ambitious, mixing state of the art stylised CG with model work to bring this weird, watery world to life.The Pirates! loses a bit of its majesty on the small screen but a second (and subsequent) viewings does give you the chance to bask in the wealth of incidental details the filmmakers have packed into the background. From hilarious signage to the quirks of the most insignificant characters, there’s a comprehensive attention to every inch of the frame which is probably a necessary by-product of this kind of intense work. The performances remain extremely entertaining, led by an unusually committed role for Hugh Grant as the Pirate Captain. Martin Freeman plays a good straight man, David Tennant is properly annoying as Darwin and Imelda Staunton is tremendous as the ninja fighting Queen Victoria. Sadly, The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists is Aardman’s most expensive feature to date and its least profitable, earning just $120 million worldwide on a $55 million budget. Give the film the love it deserves on home video.EXTRAS Slim enough pickings but the quality is high. Things kick off with a commentary by director Pete Lord, co-director Jeff Newitt and editor Justin Krish. It’s a little drier than you might expect but there’s plenty of facts about the production and little enough dead air. Then there’s a 20 minute behind the scenes feature with plenty of anecdotes and footage, giving you a sense of the intricate work required to bring this world to life. That access continues with a 10 minute focus on the complicated bath chase sequence. Back slapping aplenty but it feels well deserved. It’s topped off by a pointless flash card game with Mr. Bobo.
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