Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists in 3D

Aardman indulges in a spot of film piracy that we can all get behind

Stop-motion specialist Aardman Animations has struggled to find a level of cinematic success to match that it regularly achieves on TV. In part this is down to some ill-judged forays into computer animation that have struggled to live up to the lofty heights of Pixar.

Thankfully, this latest feature sees the studio at its very best, finding the perfect match for its trademark Anglo-centric humour and quirky stop-motion animation in the world of Gideon Dafoe’s popular The Pirates! series of children’s books. Bursting with Pythonesque gags and zany action, it’s a treat on a par with any of the Wallace & Gromit shorts. What more could you possibly want?

Picture: This single-disc Blu-ray can be viewed in either 2D or 3D modes, both of which look sensational.

One of the strengths of stop-motion animation has always been the visual depth of the image and the physicality of the characters, something that comes across even more readily via the MVC 2.40:1 1080p stereoscopic encode. Whether it’s being used for a cheap gag like the ‘googly-eyed’ pirate flag in Chapter 3, or to immerse you in rollercoaster-style thrills during the bath chase in Chapter 6 or to simply emphasize the scale of a location such as the treasure room in Chapter 10 you cannot help but be awed by the magnificent colour saturation, contrast levels and image stability on display.

This peerless technical quality naturally extends to the disc’s 2D presentation, which is so colourful and detailed that it’ll shiver your timbers.
Picture rating: 4.5/5

Audio: The hi-def platter features a reference-quality DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack bursting with verve and life that takes great pains to deliver a fun and busy three-dimensional soundscape at all times. Movement across the speakers sounds incredibly natural and effortless, and there’s impressive heft to some of the more meaty effects. Dialogue is also excellently rendered, accurately capturing each of the regional accents (including Lenny Henry, Brian Blessed and Hugh Grant) on offer.
Audio rating: 4.5/5

Extras: Director Peter Lord sits down with co-director Jeff Newitt and editor Justin Krish for a gratifying audio commentary that reveals the amount of effort that went into making the film, and highlights plenty of the background gags that you might have missed. The same is also true of the 21-min From Stop to Motion and 8-min Creating the Bath Chase Sequence behind-the-scenes featurettes. Rounding things out is a Pirate Disguise set-top game for the kids.
Extras rating: 3/5

We say: There’s no shortage of AV treasure on offer on this Blu-ray

Sony Pictures, All-region BD, £27 Approx, On sale now