We’ve enjoyed a bit of a Shaun the Sheep weekend this weekend. On Saturday we dropped a broad hint to the boys by digging out our DVD of the Shaun the Sheep Movie, and still none of them realised which film we were intending to take them to see on Sunday. Even with the uncertainty, though, the film was enjoyed by all.
Farmageddon (I’m not typing out the full title every time) delivers the same gently surreal humour as the first film and there are plenty of laugh out loud moments. That said, though, this film didn’t feel as effortlessly superb as its predecessor.
The plot centres on the arrival of an alien spaceship in Mossy Bottom Farm. Inevitably, the intergalactic traveller, Lu-La encounters Shaun and our ovine hero decides to help the visitor to return home before the villainous boss of the can get her hands on her. Meanwhile, the farmer has decided to cash in on the interest Lu-La’s UFO has caused by setting his dog to build a theme park.
It’s a pretty simple plot onto which can be hung an endless stream of in-jokes, visual gags and film references (starting with ET). None of this, though, really held my attention in the same way that previous Aardman outings have managed. Part of the problem, I think, is the character of Lu-La, who is a little bit too cute for an Aardman character. Of course, “not the best film Aardman has made” still translates to “easily better than most of the animated films you’ll see this year” and there is a lot to enjoy in this film.
This being a Shaun the Sheep film, there is no dialogue (obviously — have you ever met a talking sheep?) which makes for a film that stands as a tribute to the era of silent films and one that clearly demonstrates the effectiveness of truly visual storytelling. Everything is both clear, and clearly expressed, without a word needing to be said by anyone.
Farmageddon is not the greatest film that Aardman Animations have ever released, but it is a cracking 90 minutes of entertainment that stands head and shoulders above the generic CGI that so often passes for animation these days. For this alone, for the fact that this is an original film made by people who clearly care about their work, makes this a film that is well worth seeing.
Also I was tickled by the fact that the Dutch version of this film (not that there is any need for subtitles) has been given the puntastic name of The Spacesheep.