Richard Phelan, Will Becher
2019 (October 18, 2022)
Aardman/StudioCanal/Netflix (Shout! Factory Kids)
- Film/program category: B
- Video Note: A-
- Audio quality: A
- Additional Rank: VS-
The unfortunate fate that befell A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon was that it had no chance of being theatrically released in the United States. Despite the popularity of the franchise and the success of the previous film, it was sold to Netflix, barely grossing enough worldwide to repay its budgetary costs. The reasons given are based on the poor reception of Aardman’s previous film first manwho stopped Lionsgate’s plans to publish Farmageddon in the United States, afraid of simply losing money. In hindsight, it was a bad decision, and one that potentially limited the chances of future Aardman projects getting theatrical releases outside of their home country. However, Farmageddon persevered and saw its share of streaming success, bringing fans young and old new adventures of lovable scamp Shaun and his antique-loving barnyard friends.
UFO sightings are reported at Mossingham, and back at Mossy Bottom Farm the farmer decided to capitalize on the craze by creating a theme park called “Farmageddon”, although he dismissed it all as rubbish . Meanwhile, Shaun and the other sheep are still trying to party without getting caught by the farmer’s dog, Bitzer, who is always vigilant in his duties to keep them all in line. One day, Shaun discovers an alien visitor, Lu-La, a friendly little being who can move objects with his mind and imitate various sounds. Lu-La causes him grief and gets him in trouble with Bitzer, but he soon realizes that he misses his family and needs to help him get home, all without getting caught by the farmer, or before the Ministry of Extraterrestrial Detection tracks them down.
Farmageddon is certainly not an inopportune return to the world of Shaun the Sheep, but it also feels more over the top in terms of what you would do with these characters. The story pushes the boundaries of what a group of secretly self-aware, intelligent animals can get away with, more than anything in the original series or previous movie. It also feels a little too much like a conventional, almost Pixar-ish family film, with occasional pop songs that feel out of place in a world where none of the characters speak a word of English. That said, Lu-La is quite cute and a fun addition to the world of Shaun. Farmageddon may not be stuffed with the handcrafted originality or down-to-earth qualities of its previous incarnations, but it’s still a charming and enjoyable adventure that deserved far better treatment in the US than it got. received.
A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon was digitally composited using stop-motion animation and finished in 2.35:1 aspect ratio. Scream! Factory Kids is bringing the film to Blu-ray (and DVD) for the first time in the US from what was likely a 2K digital intermediate, despite StudioCanal releasing the film on 4K Ultra HD in the UK. Either way, it’s still a beautiful presentation with excellent color and clarity. There are high levels of fine detail on characters and objects with good contrast, although blacks can be a bit deeper. Extremely light banding and compression issues are present, but nothing too intrusive. This is a nice, crisp, colorful high definition presentation with a generally high bit rate.
Audio is included in English 5.1 and 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio, as well as English 2.0 Descriptive Audio, with optional English SDH subtitles. As this is a dialogue-free film, sound design is key, and the surround and stereo tracks take full advantage of this. The 5.1 track provides excellent immersion with carefully placed sound effects, frequent ambient moments, and discreet panning. The score and music selection are also healthy in the mix, and there’s a surprising amount of LFE activity to be had. The Dolby Atmos mix of the 4K Ultra HD version in the UK would have been the icing on the cake (if not the whole meal), but those two audio channels are very satisfying.
A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon comes in a Blu-ray box with a DVD copy of the film and an insert that features the original British theatrical artwork. The following extras are included, all in HD:
- How to draw Shaun (2:48)
- How to draw Lu-La (2:42)
- Lu-La Slime Time (1:39)
- Shaun the Sheep: 25th Anniversary (3:58)
- Be crafty with Shaun and Lu-La (4:07)
- Make Farmageddon (3:16)
- Super natural wool (1:02)
- Theatrical trailer (1:55)
As you can see, this is a very fluffy set of extras without much substance. How to draw Shaun and How to draw Lu-La features off-screen Aardman storyboard artist Sanna Myllykangas showing how to draw the characters. Lu-La Slime Time and Be crafty with Shaun and Lu-La are demonstrations of how to make a Lu-La slime pot, Shaun and Lu-La tree decorations, and painted eggs. Shaun the Sheep: 25th Anniversary and Make Farmageddon features appearances from Nick Park, David Sproxton, Richard Starzak, Paul Kewley, Peter Lord, Will Becher and Richard Phelan, all of whom discuss Shaun’s debut, his lasting impact, the new film and the possibility of another. Super natural wool is a promotional short in which Lu-La returns to Earth for woolen clothes to stay warm in space. Last is a theatrical trailer. Additional promos and trailers are not included in Region B Blu-ray releases. As mentioned earlier, the film was also released in 4K Ultra HD in the UK with Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos options (although the Blu-ray featured in this release is region B locked).
Here’s hoping better heads prevail and we get more Aardman adventures on the big screen, where these types of films are just begging to be seen. Farmageddon may have lesser qualities that don’t allow it to live up to what’s come before it, but it’s a wonderful little film. Highly recommended.
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