A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon is the latest film production from the Shaun the Sheep franchise, showing us how versatile and enduring claymation can be. Perhaps it's the stop motion element that makes claymation feel timeless, or the character design that evokes that hand-drawn feel. The lack of dialogue also means it's fairly easy to export to other territories, since the characters in the film communicate visually. So it's no surprise that A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon takes all the elements that made the franchise successful, and expands upon them in a bold new direction.
The movie follows the adventures of Shaun, the quick-witted sheep who always seems to get into trouble. However, when Shaun befriends an alien, he finds himself in more trouble than ever before. Things get worse when Farmer John sees this as a golden opportunity to get rich quickly, and the scene is set for a (hilarious) disaster of epic proportions.
The premise sounds incredibly absurd — aliens in a show set on a farm? But the Shaun the Sheep franchise has always been about embracing the absurd and finding as much humour in it as possible, so it's no surprise to see them going with aliens for their second animated film. And the whole idea of aliens is so alien (pun intended) that it gives the storytellers, animators and directors plenty of fodder to flex their creative muscles, as they explore a whole new world.
The interaction between Lu-La (Amalia Vitale) and Shaun (Justin Fletcher) gives the production team a chance to explore different visual jokes and action sequences, which is important because physical humour is an important aspect of the franchise. We're fortunate in that they don't use toilet humour (which is a simple, if rather overused, form of physical humour) as much as other children's franchises do, so to have aliens is a refreshing addition to the franchise.
Along with aliens comes an X-Files-ish supporting cast of government agents and the like, so we've also got more human characters in the film (along with actual character development for them)! There are some fun audio gags involved as well, so be sure to watch out for a homage to a famous science-fiction show about alien conspiracies. Bitzer (John Sparkes) even gets his moment to shine in some anthropomorphical humour scenes, which makes for some cute misunderstandings in the movie.
However, there is an odd moment for the language-agnostic film. A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon explicitly tries to avoid using any dialogue at all, but it has a scene where reading newspaper headlines quickly is key to your understanding of what's unfolding, as well as what's funny. There's no other scene which is as language-dependent as this sequence, which makes it a strange inclusion for the film. Non-English speakers and younger audiences may have difficulty with this segment, although it doesn't run for very long.
The animation quality is as fluid, stylised, and cute as ever, with the plot being rather self-evident. There are some rather convoluted and repetitive portions, which are a necessity given what the story is trying to achieve, but otherwise the story proceeds at a rather chipper pace... except for a dreary subplot about an amusement park, which is clearly shoved in to give some characters something to do.
The movie shows us the adaptability of the Shaun the Sheep franchise, which is able to accommodate other franchises and premises without losing what makes it so adorable in the first place. Now that they've boldly gone where no sheep has gone before, it'll be interesting to see what other directions the creators will take the woolly character in.
Score: 4 out of 5 stars
Running time: 87 minutes
A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon is a 3D-animated claymation film that is a sequel to 2015's Shaun the Sheep Movie.
The film is directed by Will Becher and Richard Phelan, with a screenplay by Mark Burton and Jon Brown and story credits for Richard Starzak. It features the voice talents of Justin Fletcher (Shaun, Timmy) John Sparkes (Bitzer), Amalia Vitale (Lu-La), Kate Harbour (Agent Red, Timmy’s mother), and Chris Morell (Farmer John).
A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon opens in cinemas:
- 5 Dec, 2019 (Singapore)
- 4 Dec, 2019 (Philippines)
Marcus Goh is a television scriptwriter who writes for “Crimewatch”, as well as popular shows like “Lion Mums”, “Code of Law”, “Incredible Tales”, and “Police & Thief”. He’s also a Transformers enthusiast and avid pop culture scholar. You can find him on social media as Optimarcus and on his site. The views expressed are his own.
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