Ok, the title of the movie does not inspire confidence in it’s potential for greatness, I will admit that. In fact, if it had not been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Film, I might have missed it all together. That would have been a mistake—or at least a shame, because this is my favorite animated movie of 2012, to date.The film is British and the animation is claymation, which I love. It is directed by Peter Lord (who co-directed "Chicken Run"—and the sense of humor in this movie is very similar to that movie—if you didn’t enjoy that, you are unlikely to really enjoy this one), "Pirates" creates a sense of fun that feels hand-made rather than machine manufactured. This comes not only from its absurd slap stick humor, but also from the physical nature of the stop-motion animation process Aardman Animation (of ‘Wallace and Gromit’ fame) specializes in.
The plot is the least of the fun. Captain Pirate is not the sharpest sword in the shed, but he is a good and loyal pirate—the bad guy in this film is Queen Victoria, who is depicted entirely different from any other historical representation that I am familiar with. She is officious, difficult, and unlikable. Captain Pirate aspires to being the Pirate of the Year, which means that he raises the most booty of any pirate—there are so many pirates that are completely out of his league, you feel sorry for him and his loyal crew. They encounter the world famous Charles Darwin on one of their ship raids, and Darwin lets them know that they have a thought-to-be extinct dodo in their possession. Captain Pirate misinterprets scientifically valuable to be financially valuable, and there begins his fall from grace with his crew. He manages to redeem himself by movie’s end, though, and it is a very enjoyable ride for the rest of us.