The unlikely winner of the award for best-reviewed movie of the weekend is Aardman Animation's The Pirates! Band of Misfits . Of the major critics, only Roger Moore of the Orlando Sentinel sends it to the plank. "Amusing in small doses, Pirates is the first Aardman film to suffer a serious shortage of sight gags, the first where the whimsy feels forced and the strain shows," he huffs. You have to wonder if Moore saw the same film as the Chicago Tribune 's Michael Phillips, who calls it "maniacally inventive" and goes on to write that hours after seeing it, "I was smiling at the memory of the best bits, some so fleeting they practically dare an audience to catch them on The Fly." Or Tom Russo in the Boston Globe who writes similarly, "There's so much going on, often so subtly, you may want to sail with this crew more than once." Likewise Nell Minow in the Chicago Sun-Times "The wonderful folks at Aardman have created another deliriously silly stop-motion animation delight, filled with giddy pleasures and so many witty details flying by that you wish for a pause button." Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times simply calls the movie, "a clever piece of business that is a complete pleasure to experience." Linda Barnard in the Toronto Star assures readers that while the filmmakers at Aardman do employ computer effects "to play backup," fans of the Wallace & Gromit TV shows and movies and the Chicken Run and Arthur Christmas features, should rest easy. "This marriage doesn't scupper Aardman's classic clay-based animated heritage," she writes, "and The Script is still filled with the kind of dry laughs only The Brits can conjure up." Elizabeth Weitzman of the New York Daily News took two little girls with her to the press screening, who, she says, "made this heartfelt request as soon as it ended 'Please please please give this movie five stars!!!" She wound up giving the movie three, "But I can say that most 5 and 7-year-olds are likely to have the same response they did." Adults, she says, are likely to have "a rollicking good time, even if Aardman's ambitions don't quite dazzle as usual." But Manohla Dargis of The New York Times , ordinarily one of the toughest critics on the block, seems completely won over by the filmmakers. "The movie is a curiosity cabinet of visual pleasures," she writes, "but so breezy and lightly funny that you may not realize at first how good it is. (You're too busy grinning.)"
Hugh Grant stroked an imaginary beard to get into character for his latest film, 'The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists'.
Hugh Grant stroked an imaginary beard to get into character for his latest film.
The British actor provides the voice of Pirate Captain in new 3D animation movie 'The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists' and he had to come up with imaginative ways to get the voice right for his alter-ego.
He said: ''Between sessions you forget the character because it can be months and months and then you're hauled back in to do some more voicing.
Continue reading: Hugh Grant Used Imaginary Beard To Get Into Role
Hugh Grant has signed up to star in his first animated role as Pirate Captain in 'The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists'.
Hugh Grant is to voice an animated character for the first time.
The stop-motion 3-D picture has been produced by Aardman Animations for Sony Picture Animation and will be distributed by Columbia Pictures.
Continue reading: Hugh Grant To Voice Animated Pirate
Oscar-winning director Nick Park has shed light on the plot of Wallace And Gromit's latest adventure.
After a big screen outing in The Curse of the Were Rabbit, the animated pair return to television this Christmas in A Matter of Loaf and Death.
And ahead of the beloved duo's TV comeback, their creator has revealed his relief at returning to the 30-minute episode format, having spent recent years making feature films.
"I love making films for the cinema but the production of Chicken Run and Curse of the Were-Rabbit were virtually back to back and each film took five years to complete," Park explained.
"A Matter of Loaf and Death will be so much quicker to make. I'm delighted to be back into production and back with BBC1 with Wallace and Gromit.
"Over the years the BBC has been incredibly supportive of Wallace and Gromit, this film feels like their homecoming."
In their new TV outing, Wallace and Gromit have opened a new bakery Top Bun and business is booming, not least because a deadly Cereal Killer is targeting all the bakers in town and so competition is drying up.
Though Gromit is worried that they may be the next victims, Wallace (Peter Sallis) is oblivious, having fallen head over heels in love with Piella Bakewell, (voiced by Coronation Street's Sally Lindsay) former star of the Bake-O-Lite bread commercials.
So Gromit is left to run things on his own when he'd much rather be getting better acquainted with Piella's lovely pet poodle Fluffles, only to make a shocking discovery which points to the killer's true identity.
Commenting on the new film, BBC1 controller Jay Hunt said: "I am delighted Wallace and Gromit will be part of our Christmas schedule on BBC1.
"A Matter of Loaf and Death is just the sort of unmissable family entertainment that epitomises the channel at its very best."
Continue reading: Nick Park Reveals Plot Of Christmas Wallace And Gromit
Animation favourites Wallace & Gromit are to return to television screen for the first time in 12 years.
The claymation duo will star in half-hour adventure Trouble at' Mill, set to screen on BBC1 in late 2008, Aardman Animations has confirmed.
The cheese-loving inventor - voiced by Last of the Summer Wine star Peter Sallis - and his stoic canine companion were last since in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, which won the best animated feature Oscar in 2006.
However, the pair haven't been seen on the small screen since 1995's A Close Shave.
Nick Park, creator of the duo, told BBC News: "The story takes Wallace And Gromit in a direction we haven't seen before - both emotionally and technically."
Trouble at' Mill - which begins shooting at the Aardman studios in Bristol in January 2008 - will see Wallace and Gromit running a bakery business before being embroiled in a murder mystery.
Park added that returning to the Beeb was a welcome relief.
"I love making films for the cinema but the production of Chicken Run and Curse of the Were-Rabbit were virtually back to back and each film took five years to complete," he said.
"This one we're making for the BBC. It's going to be a seven- or eight-month shoot. That's faster than we've ever done it before," he confirmed.
After Wallace dallied with Lady Campanula Tottington (voiced by Helena Bonham Carter) in the duo's big screen adventure, Trouble at' Mill will feature a new love interest, from bread enthusiast Piella Bakewell.
Continue reading: Wallace & Gromit To Return
Hollywood film studio DreamWorks Animation and the makers of the Wallace And Gromit films have severed their troubled partnership after their quirky British characters failed to catch on in the US.
The collaboration yielded Oscar-winning film WALLACE AND GROMIT: THE CURSE OF THE WERE RABBIT, featuring cheese-loving Wallace and his dog Gromit, Chicken Run and FLUSHED AWAY about an upper-class rat who disappears down a toilet.
ARTHUR SHERIFF, a spokesman for the film's British makers, Aardman Animators, said it had been "extremely hard" for their films to crack the United States.
He explains, "It seems that in the US market, Wallace and Gromit are incredibly popular in the main cities, but it's more difficult when you go to middle America. The humour is a bit more subtle. We want to stay with our English quirkiness and I think the fans want us to as well."
Jeffrey Katzenberg, the US firm's chief executive officer, adds, "While I will always be a fan and an admirer of Aardman's work, our different business goals no longer support each other."
Speculation the deal could be doomed emerged last year after Dreamworks said it expected to lose money on Flushed Away, which cost well over $100 million (GBP51 million) to make, but only grossed $63.4 million (GBP33 million).
Although numerous reports have referred to the upcoming Flushed Away from Aardman Features as a "claymation" movie -- that is, one using Plasticene figures and stop-frame photography like the company's previous Chicken Run and Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit -- it now turns out that the characters in the feature were all created with computers. Today's (Thursday) Los Angeles Times reported that the filmmakers wanted to keep "the same distinctive design aesthetic" of the original Aardman movies, but that they also wanted to open up the movie (to show the Paris sewer system, for example). Aardman director David Bowers told the newspaper, "If we had to do it in stop-frame, it would have been a much smaller and much dryer film, that's for sure."
British movie house Aardman Animations has made its first film using computer generated imagery (CGI), after years of working with plasticine models.
After scoring hits including Wallace And Gromit: THE CURSE OF THE WERE RABBIT and Chicken Run using an intricate technique of filming clay models - the company has bowed to modern trends and made its first picture using computer technology.
FLUSHED AWAY tells the story of rats living in the sewers of London.
Continue reading: Aardman Moves On To Computers
LATEST: Oscar-winning animator Nick Park is unfazed by the fire which destroyed many of his past creations on Monday (10OCT05), because he is determined to concentrate on future projects.
Park's discovered his latest movie WALLACE AND GROMIT AND THE CURSE OF THE WERE-RABBIT is currently at the top the US box office moments before hearing his Aardman Animations site in Bristol, England, had been gutted by flames.
But he is taking the disaster as a sign to build on his ever-growing success, rather than lament the loss of past creations including the cast of hit movie Chicken Run.
Continue reading: Park Unfazed By Wallace And Gromit Fire
The 35-year-old star - who also plays SAFFRON in ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS - issued a furious statement through the couple's publicists to deny the story and warn they will be taking the matter to court.
The statement reads, "Alan Davies and Julia Sawalha do not discuss their private lives in the media.
Continue reading: Chicken Run Star Seeks Legal Action Over Marriage Claims
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