Johnny Depp and the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise have come to define 'pirate movie' to a generation, and while I'm delighted with the adventures of Captain Jack I also wouldn't say no to a different take on the swashbucklers of the high seas. When I found out that Aardman Animations was making a pirate feature, my first reaction was bafflement: “Wallace and Gromit do pirates?” But I was willing to give them a shot – goodness knows, they've made me laugh before.
I love that the the major villain is Queen Victoria, assisted by the terribly, terribly confused Charles Darwin. Darwin was such a creepy, cringing weirdo who used his knowledge of science to train a chimpanzee butler. Wouldn't you? The fact that he was voiced by David Tennant seemed perfect, too; I hear does a brilliant Doctor but I've only ever seen him in crazy roles like Bartie Crouch in Harry Potter, so playing a slightly unbalanced scientist is right up his alley. Queen Victoria and her anti-pirate crusade was totally fun.
But of course, it's the pirates that we ultimately care about. I adored the Pirate Captain – he's that perfect blend of dotty and ditzy that we love in pirate leads. His crew is a motley collection of random tropes: The Albino One, The Cross-dressing One, and so on and so forth. But they work together and compliment each other well; collectively the crew has a much stronger presence than their POTC counterparts, balancing their captain instead of being overshadowed by him.
It's a much sillier take on pirates, but every bit as adventurous and fun as a great pirate movie should be.