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Metronome Sessions

Film Review: Shaun the Sheep: Farmageddon

21 October 19 words: Hilary Whiteside

The latest offering from Aardman studios bounces onto our cinema screens this week, strategically timed to coincide with half term. And, bounce it does. Wit, humour, slapstick – it’s all there, and fans of Shaun and the Aardman legacy will not be disappointed.

Director: Will Becher, Richard Phelan

Starring: Justin Fletcher, Joe Sugg, John Sparkes

Running time: 86 mins

The story line is simple, for let’s not forget, this is a film produced with children as the focus audience. However, the director uses the comfortable, familiar backdrop of the Yorkshire countryside, Mossy Bottom Farm situated in the town of Mossingham, as his location. We are presented with fast food outlets, National Trust wooden signs and supermarket products that have all featured in previous films, and of course, there are sheep! They knit (obviously), they play chess (obviously), and they’re clearly far more intelligent than the farmer, viewing life in their supercilious, ironic way. Animal characters presented in previous films also feature; the silly chickens, the pigs and a dog (not Grommit!) 

Into this familiar mix, we are transported into a sci-fi mode. Our heroine, in the form of Lu-La, emerges. Poor Lu-La has been left on earth by her parents following a space ship crash.  Of course, this is an unapologetic and intended Spielberg moment, designed probably for adults. Surely not many five years olds are able to spot the numerous cinematic allusions to 2001 Space Odyssey, Star Wars and ET?  This is the Nick Parks way!  Farmageddon loosely and unapologetically follows the story line of ET as Shaun and his cronies hatch a way to bring about the reconciliation of Lu-La and her family. Certainly no spoilers as to whether they succeed!

Surely not many five years olds are able to spot the numerous cinematic allusions to 2001 Space Odyssey, Star Wars and ET?

The beauty of the film, of course, is in its humour, both the laugh out loud type and its more subtle forms.  There is so much to look out for and enjoy. Of course, this would not be a real Aardman production without the slapstick. We expect that.  Look out for the shark in the freezer and the general dismantling of the supermarket!  There is the rather haphazard building of the theme park where the farmer pays little attention to the health and safety of his crew his eyes in true Yorkshire fashion intent on making some quick brass.

Lu-La is denoted by using glowing, pastel colours and by giving her a slightly alien shape.  These form a contrast with those beings who live on the earth. There is, of course, an antagonist Agent Red, who actively seeks to destroy Lu-La. The director has utilised a multitude of stereotypes to create her image.  Dark glasses, cutting edge cheek bones, sharp suit, slightly Asian features reminiscent of gangland Hong Kong. Her makeup is pronounced and frankly, shovelled on. Look out for those red lips.

There is no dialogue except for Lu-La’s echoing of ET’s plaintiff cry of ‘Home.’ Music therefore plays an important role in denoting each character who has been given a musical theme.  For example, Lu-La’s is ethereal and mystical whereas Shaun’s is more down to earth and rustic. Apart from this specialisation the music provides an unmemorable backdrop to the film and maybe this is the point.

All in all, Shaun Sheep 2 is great fun and cannot fail to please any audience; there is something for everyone. 

Did you know? Shaun the Sheep: Farmageddon is the first feature length sequel Aardman has ever produced.

Shaun the Sheep: Farmageddon is screening at Broadway Cinema until Thursday 31 October

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