A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon
Director: Will Becher and Richard Phelan
Release: 18 October
Based on the beloved claymation TV show, A Shaun the Sheep Film: Farmageddon sees its titular character go to space as he helps a lost alien called Lu-La return home.
It’s almost redundant to say at this stage, but my god, do Aardman Studios make gorgeous looking films. Everything, from the character design to the huge, immersive sets are dripping in pastoral charm. When you consider how painstaking it must be to get such nuanced expressions out of plasticine, the Aardman team start to seem less like animators and more like gods operating out of Bristol.
Farmageddon is no different. It’s a visual delight, bolstered by an extremely goofy sense of humour and a very high gag rate. But there’s a huge elephant in the room; it’s the most blatant E.T. rip-off since Mac and Me. By the time Mama and Papa La are landing on earth to bring their baby home, directors Will Belcher and Richard Phelan are lifting shots and spaceships wholesale out of The Berg’s masterpiece. As theft goes, it’s elegantly done, but it means that the film is lacking its own emotional core.
It leaves Farmageddon in an awkward in-between space. On the one hand, it’s a hollow imitation of a much-loved classic that’s already perfectly suitable for most children. But yet, it packs enough technical wizardry and good-natured fun to not be completely dismissed.
It might seem ridiculous to complain about the lack of depth in a Shaun the Sheep film. After all, it’s made with the under-eight crowd in mind, and on those terms it totally succeeds. But it’s frustrating to watch Aardman flex their formidable craft on something that’s ultimately so lightweight. Farmageddon is perfectly fine Sunday afternoon entertainment, but anyone expecting anything as transcendental as Wallace and Gromit is better off watching The Wrong Trousers for the 30th time.
Words: Jack O’Higgins