Directors: Will Becher and Richard Phelan
Starring: Justin Fletcher, John Sparkes, Kate Harbour, David Holt, Chris Morrell, Richard Webber, Simon Greenall, Emma Tate and Andy Nyman
Run time: 1h 26m
The Kings of stop-motion technique, Aardman, return to the big screen with A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon and their superior use of clay-mation. Featuring shots that can take as long as eight weeks to film, but last only 40 seconds on screen, Aardman employees Will Becher and Richard Phelan make their feature debut.
Lu-La, a ridiculously cute alien with a talent for vocal imitation, unwittingly arrives on earth and stumbles upon Shaun’s home of Mossy Bottom Farm. Whilst the local villagers and UFO hunters try to sneak a peek at the cosmic visitor, the owner and Farmer of Mossy Bottom attempts to cash-in on the hysteria by building an Extra-terrestrial theme park. He wants a brand-new combine harvester and the money will give him the key.
Teaming up with Shaun, Lu-La attempts to locate her missing spaceship whilst a secretive agency known as the Ministry of Alien Detection (think Men in Black, but more sinister) led by a mysterious woman desperate to prove that there’s life on Mars, relentlessly and comically hunt them down.
Children’s entertainment legend, Justin Fletcher once again voices the eponymous hero and is joined by John Sparkes, Kate Harbour, David Holt, Chris Morrell, Richard Webber, Simon Greenall, Emma Tate and Andy Nyman. Whilst there aren’t any actual words spoken, other vocal quirks are used to great effect and successfully communicate a plethora of emotions. Indeed, sometimes the silence of the lambs spoke volumes.
Of course, there are bum gags and a burp to end all burps, but let’s not forget the target audience here. As well as enjoying the frivolity that comes with a family film, more important, deeper issues are also delicately examined. Bullying and learning to forgive are explored creating moments of genuine pathos.
For the older members of the audience, there are Easter eggs aplenty including references to Doctor Who, E.T., Jaws and even Alien, but my personal favourite was Independence Day. There’s also an inspired use of Out of Control by The Chemical Brothers, to crank up the nostalgia.
The numerous action scenes are a joy to behold and a magnificent artistic achievement, so much so it’s easy to forget you’re watching figures made from clay. Aardman once again show their wizardry in the world they create. Astonishing attention to detail and the care and love clearly held for these characters transfers onto the screen with a delicate charm and unmatched skill to make Farmageddon an out of the world experience for all the family to enjoy.
A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon invades UK cinemas on October 18th 2019.