How do you make a sequel to a universally beloved movie? The original Chicken Run, released 23 years ago, hit the perfect combination of cosy Claymation vibes, spot on homage (to the classic The Great Escape), and warm ‘can-do’ spirit.
Well, it clearly took Aardman Animation 23 years to try, and the result is a movie that is refrying with the same oil but doesn’t taste quite as fresh.
What Is Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget About?
After escaping from Mrs. Tweedy’s chicken farm and setting up an idyllic life hidden away on a little island within a lake, Rocky and Ginger have settled down and started a family.
Years later, daughter Molly (Bella Ramsey, The Worst Witch) is fascinated with life beyond her boundaries and sneaks off the island.
Unfortunately she mistakes a ‘Fun-Land Farms’ van as transport to a theme park, placing her and new friend Frizzle (Josie Sedgwick-Davies) in more danger than either of them realise.
Some housekeeping. Rocky is no longer voiced by Mel Gibson (Google will undoubtedly tell you why) and Ginger is no longer voiced by Julia Sawalha (same again, but for stupider reasons).
Taking over is Zachery Levi and Thandiwe Newton respectively. A few other supporting voices have also been recast but these are the two headline ones.
Fans may need to adjust their ears a little; Newton’s performance is close to Sawalha’s, but Levi doesn’t really sound like Gibson by any measure.
Those concerned about re-finding the magic in a Chicken Run sequel can take comfort from the fact this is Aardman Animation we are talking about.
The studio is all swings and no misses (although obviously to varying degrees) and all the things you love about Aardman are still here.
Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget Official Trailer
Is Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget Worth Watching?
The sense of humour is plump with sight gags and inventive machinery, and the ideas on how to throw entertaining peril at our chickens is roasted to perfection.
What does come across as reheated though is the characterisation and plotting.
It’s a logical step to explore the differences in personality between Ginger (who escaped a life of captivity) versus daughter Molly (who has known nothing but safety), but the revisiting of chicken farming – more specifically, a particular chicken farmer – do taste like the frozen mass produced product in the movie’s title.
This is a disappointment but is no means a deal breaker. The switch away from Great Escape stylings to a more generic Aardman style (think the nuts and bolts inventions of Wallace and Gromit) mean that the magical 7 herbs and spices are lacking, but even so Dawn of the Nugget is packed with gags and adventure a plenty for all the family.
From mollifying hypnotism that almost calls to mind movies like They Live, shifting parental priorities that dampen down youthful bravery, and a large dollop of mechanical mayhem, director Sam Fell makes sure there is always something filling going on.
An increased budget has been spent on more chaos on screen during the action scenes, and Dawn of the Nugget retains that fantastic set piece pacing that fans of Aardman productions have come to expect.
For a taste of the familiar Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget does exactly what it says on the packet. No more, no less.
Words by Mike Record
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