Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon

Directors: Will Becher, Richard Phelan

Actors: Justin Fletcher, Kate Harbour, John Sparkes

Release Date: Friday 18th October 2019

Genre(s): Adventure, Animation, Comedy

Running time: 86 minutes

Everything about the film is so fluffy (pardon the pun), light and enjoyable that parents will like it as much as the kids

Shaun the sheep and the rest of the flock continue their rascally, scheme-filled days at Mossy Bottom Farm, much to the chagrin of Bitzer, the sheep dog. One day, Lu-La, a cute little alien with special powers, crash lands near the farm, causing more trouble than usual for Shaun. He vows to help Lu-La get back home, but a sinister organisation is also after the alien.

Aardman continues its run of charming animated features, and while ‘Farmageddon’ wouldn’t rank among its best work, the studio’s productions remain impressive. The textures of the claymation are now more advanced than ever before - the viewer feels like they could reach out to the screen and pet the woolly sheep or gorge on those delicious French fries. Everything about the film is so fluffy (pardon the pun), light and enjoyable that the parents bringing the kids to the movie will be as entertained as little ones.

In fact, there are a bunch of fun movie references put in especially for adults, with throwbacks to ‘Alien’, ‘Jaws’, ‘Signs’, ‘ET’ and ‘Walle’ all in there. Lu-La is an adorable new addition and the cheekiness and playfulness of the sheep versus the no-nonsense, practical Bitzer makes for an amusing dynamic. As for the relationship between Bitzer and the Farmer, they’re clearly looking to recreate the Wallace and Gromit pairing, especially with the Farmer coming up with ideas while Bitzer is the one carrying out the work. Interestingly, the ‘Shaun the Sheep’ TV series has travelled even further than ‘Wallace and Gromit’ so it’s no wonder we’re seeing a second movie for the former before the latter.

Aardman has always captured facial expressions exquisitely, and makes the most of strong visual gags as well as simple, likeable characters with the odd naughty joke thrown in. They maintain that winning formula here but tonally, it’s a more childish production and pacing wise, it gets a bit lost in act three. Still there’s no denying it’s pure, feel-good fun for the whole clan. It won’t blow you away and it feels like a film you’ve seen a hundred times, but perhaps that familiarity and lack of complexity is part of the charm.