Directors: Will Becher and Richard Phelan
Writer: Jon Brown
Starring: Justin Fletcher, John Sparkes, Chris Morrell
When an alien possessing strange powers crash lands near Mossy Bottom Farm, Shaun the Sheep quickly makes a new friend. However, the alien is being pursued by a sinister organization, and Shaun must help the alien evade capture and get home.
Aardman have always had a unique approach, and their exceptional attention to detail and penchant for visual gags is surely no more prevalent than in Shaun the Sheep, as it has no actual dialogue. This may have been fine for short episodes in a TV series, but to then transfer that to a feature length film was surely a risk? Well, 2015’s Shaun the Sheep Movie stuck to the same formula and was (in my view) a wonderfully entertaining film that was both absolutely hilarious and emotionally engaging, with some moments reminiscent of silent comedties.
Well, I am pleased (but not surprised) to say that Farmageddon is just as good; it is also a wonderfully entertaining and hilarious film from start to finish, and once again all achieved with no dialogue whatsoever. The attention to detail in the stop-motion set design is beyond impressive, and as this film has a more Spielbergian sci-fi based element, there are plenty of constant hilarious visual and musical references to both film and TV series of the genre to keep the adults happy, though that is just an added bonus as the story itself and all of the characters involved are engaging for viewers of all ages anyway.
There is inevitably going to be a fair amount of contrivance to certain aspects of the plot (such as a group of sheep building a theme park), especially as this being a feature length film means that there has to be an antagonist, which takes the form of a Men in Black inspired female special agent who is obsessed with the extra-terrestrial, but even she gets a satisfying character arc. Of course, apart from the additional character of the alien called Lu-La, the two main characters are Shaun and Bitzer (the dog), and though Bitzer may essentially have the role as antagonist due to the fact it is usually him that spoils Shaun’s fun, in both the previous film and in Farmageddon he is given a very satisfactory character arc that puts a lot of Hollywood films to shame. He is of course only ever trying to do his job and be loyal to his (hapless) human master, and in both films he does truly get his moment to shine and play a huge role in saving the day, which is very satisfying to see.
As the story develops the visual gags just keep coming, and they are very rarely nothing less than hilarious, whether they be the slightly more juvenile moments involving excessive burping in a supermarket or the relentless and ingenious references to sci-fi culture. As with the 2015 film, It is also a film with tremendous heart at its very core, and certainly contains the more poignant themes about family and loyalty, but there are crucially never overdone or rammed down the viewers throat. Farmageddon just gets so many things right and is a visually stunning and irresistibly entertaining experience from start to finish that is guaranteed to put a smile on the face of viewers of all ages. In this often cruel, heartless and unforgiving world there is often very little to provide us with much reassurance or optimism, but a film like Farmageddon can at least give us a glimmer of hope and 90 minutes of absolute hilariously heart-warming escapism. It is an outright travesty that this film did not get a nomination for best animated film at the Oscars!
Aardman once again deliver the goods; A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon is an engaging, heart-warming and often hilarious experience that will appeal to audiences of all ages, and it is once again all achieved with no dialogue whatsoever!