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  Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon, A Pulling The Wool Over Their EyesBuy this film here.
Year: 2019
Director: Will Becher, Richard Phelan
Stars: Justin Fletcher, John Sparkes, Chris Morrell, Andy Nyman, David Holt, Kate Harbour, Amalia Vitale, Joe Sugg, Simon Greenall, Emma Tate, Richard Webber
Genre: Comedy, Animated, Science Fiction
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: In the night skies above Mossy Bottom a strange light is seen by those who are out that late, and one man who has been walking his dog and has popped into the local fast food outlet to buy a bag of chips realises something very strange has happened in the nearby woodland. When he goes to investigate, he witness an actual, honest to goodness flying saucer land in the middle of a clearing and as the door opens, something emerges - he doesn't stick around to find out what, simply runs off in a panic (dropping the chips, to his chagrin). Next day Shaun the Sheep (voiced by Justin Fletcher) is playing frisbee with his fellow sheep chums, unaware he is to have a close encounter...

Shaun the Sheep was one of the big successes from children's television in Britain and the countries it was exported to, appealing to young and old with its mix of goofy slapstick and clever visual puns, all wrapped up in a charming, stop motion package. A film version from its creators at Aardman studios seemed like the obvious route to take, and lo the first movie did well enough in 2015 to prompt a second in 2019, which took a science fiction tack, kind of like Disney making The Cat from Outer Space if you wanted an analogy. It was another hit, and after the disappointing Early Man reaffirmed their place as a purveyor of high-quality entertainment for all the family.

Though some wondered if we would ever see another Wallace and Gromit movie after the demise of voice actor Peter Sallis, at least one character from that franchise was flourishing, and Shaun found himself dealing with an extra-terrestrial in much the same way as Henry Thomas did in, well, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial almost forty years before. The alien this time was a cone-shaped, dog-faced blue entity called Lu-La (Amalia Vitale), which had a neat line in impersonations and a range of psychic powers, plus an apparently insatiable appetite for food, its favourite comestible being pizza, something it will stop everything, or indeed drop everything, to get its chops around.

The characters from the television instalments were present and correct, though the sheep had less to do than usual, so Timmy fans might feel short-changed; Shaun remained cock of the walk as far as those farmyard animals went. The Farmer (John Sparkes) was as clueless as ever that his woolly livestock had more intelligence than he gave them credit for, and early scenes of them messing about were replaced with an adventure he is trying to cash in on when his field displays a crop circle, one of a number of UFO lore-based gags that would amuse science fiction fans as much as they would the sort of person who took an interest in the ins and outs of flying saucery. But it was obviously connecting with the grown-ups who had enjoyed the science fiction of decades' history as much as encouraging a love of the genre in the little ones.

If it was not hilarious all the way through, as perhaps there was too much emphasis on the adventure elements over the delivery of the jokes, there was a high rate of those jokes regardless, and if one merely raised a smirk, be assured there would be a proper laugh on its way before long, even if it was simply noticing one of the background details. If anything, while not a laff riot, Farmaggedon did look absolutely beautiful, its attention to the minutiae of bringing its wacky yet bucolic world to life utterly peerless. You could sit back and allow the bright colours and odd noises to wash over you, it was a feast for the eyes and the abundance of silly sounds was oddly soothing, indeed there was a lot completely relaxing about it, with no real villains as even the leader of the Government agents had a backstory where she had dearly wished to meet an alien since she was a little girl and was jeered at for believing such things. Not the best Aardman movie, but one of its most visually accomplished. Music by Tom Howe.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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