Released: 9th January
Seen: 28th March
Aardman Animation has a long history of creating some of the greatest animated works around. Their unique and iconic style has been a constant ever since the early Wallace and Gromit shorts were delighting kids in the early 90s (oh god I feel old). Since then they’ve become a standard-bearer in the world of claymation and their cinematic efforts have been constantly joyful, from the iconic Chicken Run (which is getting a sequel soon, now with 33% less angry anti-semite!) to the gloriously silly Curse of the WereRabbit. This year they’ve given us the second film in the Shaun the Sheep franchise and… oh my god it’s the most precious thing!
Shaun the Sheep: Farmageddon takes place on a little farm in the town of Mossingham. The farm, known as Mossy Bottom, is relatively quiet – or it would be were it not for the shenanigans of the titular Shaun the Sheep. One day Shaun finds an alien creature named Lu-La and the two of them start having fun adventures, going to the grocery store or riding around in a combine harvester and making crop circles. Those circles lead to the Ministry of Alien Detection’s (M.A.D.) coming to the farm to find the alien and all sorts of mischief ensues.
There is a certain undeniable charm to the Aardman animation style and sure enough, all of that charm can be found here in Farmageddon. The bright bold colours and precise comical expressions the characters pull create a visually stunning film and thank god the film is so good with the visuals since they rely upon them entirely.
With no spoken dialogue beyond a few animal sounds and mumbles here and there, Farmageddon‘s storytelling relies completely on the way characters react and gesture and these animators are so talented that they capture every nuance of the story without a single word spoken. With the common tool of dialogue taken away from them, the film leans into the exaggerated and stylised animation that the studio is known for and it works so well. Honestly, this might be in my top 5 favourite stop motion animated films list… it’s no Missing Link, but not much can match that film (that you probably slept on, go catch up).
So much of the comedy just works wonderfully, over the top physical destruction gags get glorious belly laughs and some subtle background jokes get a big joyful grin. The jokes range from over the top slapstick to clever visual puns and everything else, a joke for every member of the family to enjoy. Farmageddon is easily accessible for kids, but adults can also enjoy it without being bored senseless.
Every character is so well defined that it’s easy to keep track, even in a film with a dozen sheep on screen at certain moments you never lose track of where our protagonist is or what he’s thinking. It’s easy to follow and enjoy, a movie you can just put on and know that you’re in for a good time because everything is so carefully handled.
Sure, the storyline of Farmageddon feels almost identical to ET, most alien stories do but this one really does feel like they watched ET once and then recreated it with Shaun the Sheep characters but it also has a similar charm to that film and frankly, if you’re going to be lifting heavily from a film then why not one of the best of all time?
Shaun the Sheep: Farmageddon is one of those films that can be enjoyed by everyone, though it aims more towards the little ones than anything. It’s just got a warm fuzzy feeling like you’re being swaddled in a woollen blanket, something nice and easy to enjoy any time you want.