A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon Review
Since his first appearance on our television sets in Nick Park’s A Close Shave, the Academy Award winning short feature starring the much-loved Wallace and Gromit, Shaun the Sheep has taken the world by storm and created his own adoring fan base.
Following the release of the Wallace and Gromit spin-off series, Shaun the Sheep, which was first aired in 2006 on CBBC, Shaun and his flock have continued to grow in popularity. After multiple wins at the British Academy Children’s Awards and a positive response to Shaun the Sheep Movie in 2015, Aardman Animations are back with A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon.
Directed by Will Becher and Richard Phelan, this new Shaun the Sheep instalment brings us back to Mossy Bottom Farm, and life is going along as usual for Shaun and his pals. Forever tormenting the farm’s sheep dog Bitzer (John Sparkes), Shaun (Justin Fletcher) continues to get up to all sorts of mischief while he tries to have fun with the rest of the flock. From playing frisbee to messing about with farm machinery, Shaun causes havoc and drives Bitzer to continuously ban activities, all while the Farmer remains oblivious as usual.
Shaun’s antics are interrupted when an alien frenzy hits the town of Mossingham. After some strange happenings occur and what appears to be a spaceship is discovered in the forest by an old man and his dog, the townspeople are on high alert for extra-terrestrial activity. Little do they know, the adorable alien, Lu-La, has found herself at Mossy Bottom Farm and soon becomes firm friends with Shaun and his farmyard buddies.
As Lu-La discovers the fun and games available on planet earth, Shaun finds a kindred spirit in his new alien friend as he takes her under his wing. Meanwhile, the Farmer takes advantage of the space-crazed town and attempts to build an intergalactic themed amusement park at Mossy Bottom and enlists the flock to get the job done. However, not everyone is so keen to welcome the idea of alien life on earth. The Ministry of Alien Detection (M.A.D.), lead by Agent Red (Kate Harbour), soon make it their mission to hunt down Lu-La. Determined to protect his friend, it’s up to Shaun to save the day and get Lu-La back to her home planet.
Thankfully, A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon manages to successfully contain the fantastic detail and clever quirks of the original Aardman stop motion animated shorts, while producing a story that works for the big screen. By adopting a sci-fi theme and injecting cinematic references that will most likely be understood worldwide (E.T. and 2001: A Space Odyssey to name just a few), while staying true to the originality of Shaun the Sheep’s style, the film strikes an ideal balance of old and new.
Despite the fact we have seen the basic plot of this movie played out many times before in other productions, it doesn’t matter so much because the filmmakers have put their own unique, Shaun the Sheep spin on it. Along with the slapstick humour, the little quirks that are pieced throughout the film are fantastic and although they are simple, they are effective in the way they set the tone. For example, the cockerel at Mossy Bottom drinks from a mug that says, ‘nice pecks’ on it, and the Farmer listens to a station called ‘Calm AM’ on the radio. The attention to detail is astounding; each shot has something new to spot and admire.
Comedic details aside, visually, the film is beautiful in its own simplistic way. The bold, inviting colours are wonderful and the movements and expressions of the characters achieved through the stop motion animation are a real joy to watch (Lu-La the alien is especially adorable and a fantastic addition to the original cast). The way the characters have been brought to life through this method is quite incredible, and the hard work put into creating such a film must not be forgotten.
The characters themselves are perhaps the most enjoyable aspect of the film. The animals are so endearing, that as the movie progresses, you grow to love and care about each and every one of the them. Even without the use of any dialogue, you can perfectly understand the humour and emotion translated through the physical actions of the characters. It must be said, there is more character development in this animated adventure than in many serious dramas – even the villain Agent Red is given a background and emotional depth.
There are elements of A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon that are a little Americanised and overly predictable, and perhaps a few too many musical sequences and the space-inspired theme does get a little tiresome towards the end. Therefore, it doesn’t quite live up to the 2015's Shaun the Sheep Movie which had a more intricate plot and felt closer to the tone of the original Shaun the Sheep television series. However, this latest chapter in the Shaun the Sheep universe still works and will most likely appeal to a wider audience.
A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon is released in cinemas on the October 18