2 April 2012 1:14 AM, PDT | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

No comedy about pirates could be worse than Roman Polanski's Pirates, which got the 1986 Cannes festival off to a bad start, and none has yet been the equal of Robert Siodmak's The Crimson Pirate, the high-tidemark of the genre. Based on the first of a series of children's books by Gideon Defoe, this latest stop-action animated movie from the Aardman studio has a decent position between the two on the Plimsoll line. Hugh Grant provides a characteristically diffident voice for the hero, a cheerfully unsuccessful British buccaneer operating in the mid-19th-century Caribbean and urging his incompetent crew to support his bid to become Pirate of the Year. Seeking to destroy him is the young Queen Victoria (Imelda Staunton), a pirate-hater with considerable swashbuckling skills. Bent upon employing him for more peaceful adventures is a lovelorn Charles Darwin (David Tennant). The graphic work is charming, the voice casting excellent, »

- Philip French

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