"Exactly what you would hope and expect to see in an Aardman release, full of the witticism of which they have become renowned…"

Having delved into the deep, dark world of computer animation with hit features such as Flushed Away and Arthur Christmas, Aardman Animations are back doing what they know best - with their latest stop-motion feature The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists.

From directors Peter Lord and Jeff Newitt who brought us Chicken Run, The Pirates! is set in Victorian London, following a well-meaning, if a little misguided group of pirates, headed by Pirate Captain (Hugh Grant), who is desperate to get his hands on the highly prestigious Pirate of the year award, although competitors Peg Leg Hastings (Lenny Henry), Cutlass Liz (Salma Hayek) and Black Bellamy (Jeremy Piven) stand in his way.

The much coveted prize is awarded to the pirate with the most treasure and Pirate Captain just so happens to own a very rare bird named Polly, which scientist Charles Darwin (David Tennant) and Queen Victoria (Imelda Staunton) herself are both desperate to obtain - the latter hoping to capture the bird to serve at a dinner party. Pirate Captain alongside his number two (Martin Freeman) must therefore try and conjure a way of making money from Polly whilst holding on to a pet they and the rest of their crew hold very dearly.

The Pirates! is exactly what you would hope and expect to see in an Aardman release, full of the witticism of which they have become renowned, managing once again to strike a balance in being able to appeal to both children and adults alike, although perhaps in this case, not as adult orientated as usual, despite a variety of cleverly disguised jokes clearly aimed at an adult audience. When you manage to find a happy medium between a good story and a strong script, you've, as the pirates would say themselves, struck gold.

Although where Aardman animations often excel is within their simplistic approach and this perhaps attempts just a little too much. Unlike Wallace and Gromit or Chicken Run, this film feels a little more crowded with a few too many story-lines running in alignment - proving to be a little too overbearing at points, although as ever with their work, the film is aesthetically fantastic.

The comical script is complemented by a very strong cast of voice actors, from both sides of the Atlantic. Grant, with such an identifiable voice, excels as the lead, in a role that was initially quite difficult to envisage. He isn't exactly what would spring to mind when casting a pirate - a pirate’s wealthy aristocratic father would have seemed somewhat more apt, but it does work very well.

Oddly one of the characters in the film is Darwin's assistant molecule-wearing monkey Mister Bobo, who is able to communicate through written words - bearing an uncanny resemblance to a character in the recently released A Monster in Paris, which also featured monkey as a scientist’s sidekick who could communicate through writing. It may just be a good idea for these production companies to correspond with one another every now and again.

The soundtrack to this feature is strong, with a host of punk and ska hits, such as 'London Calling' by The Clash. Such a choice of score seems fitting as the rogue pirates almost resemble punks and rockers, with their anarchistic and rebellious lifestyle. However, I am not sure about the use of The Flight of the Conchords track "I'm not Crying". It just feels quite strange and unfunny when used out of context - and is a song that really needs to be seen in its natural setting rather than heard elsewhere.

The Pirates! is an undemanding and enjoyable film if a little obvious and unoriginal at points, but it is just a children's film after-all. Yet despite Aardman's uniqueness, this is a film that fails to bring anything new to the genre, which I know kids don't mind or recognise particularly, but it should be remembered that us adults have to sit through these films too.