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Tag: Bella Ramsey

QuickView: Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget (2023)

“Okay, everyone. It’s go time.”


British stop-motion institution Aardman Animation may be best known for Wallace & Gromit but arguably its masterpiece was 2000’s Chicken Run, an inventive homage to The Great Escape with a brood of plucky chickens attempting to flee their farm. A sequel nearly a quarter of a century later is an unexpected opportunity to return to beloved characters but risks undermining the original’s pristine reputation. Dawn of the Nugget has been a serious endeavour, not only because of the time investment inherent in stop-motion but because a tragic warehouse fire in 2005 destroyed most of Aardman’s original models, meaning everything had to be built from scratch using the Chicken Run art book as a primary reference. Director Sam Fell has the requisite pedigree, having helmed Laika’s stop-motion ParaNorman as well as Aardman’s brief foray into digital animation, Flushed Away. Chicken Run was notably female-centric, and that remains the case here as Ginger and Rocky’s daughter follows in her mother’s daring footsteps. Criticisms about significant cast changes are misplaced given the passage of time and the quality remains high, with characters taking priority over the famous names — Thandiwe Newton, Zachary Levi, Bella Ramsey — behind them. Sadly the broader canvas of the sequel is less compelling than the original’s creative take on farm life, coupled with weaker humour and an entirely predictable third act. Harry Gregson-Williams returns, unfortunately without John Powell, to supply an energetic soundtrack that expands its homage into classic spy action movies. Dawn of the Nugget is a sufficiently enjoyable romp in an underappreciated art form but despite its increase in scope, when each element feels inferior to its predecessor, it is hard not to view this newer, lesser version as redundant.


QuickView: Catherine Called Birdy (2022)

“When you try to bend the ways of the world, I will cheer for you, Birdy, but I fear for you.”

Lady Aislinn

Lena Dunham’s adaptation of Karen Cushman’s YA novel is mirthful medieval mischief, a fresh coming-of-age story that should entertain families beyond its direct target of adolescent girls. This is a feminist tale, with Birdy rebelling against attempts at marrying her off to solve the family’s financial woes. The novel was written in the form of a diary and that is the conceit for Birdy’s voiceover, essentially extracts from the book. The script is recognisably Dunham’s work, frank but generally approaching female hardship with a light touch, aided by a period setting that has no pretence at historical accuracy. The anachronistic soundtrack is also notable, creating an unusually cohesive backdrop through a series of pop covers by London singer Misty Miller. Bella Ramsey is wonderfully expressive as the impetuous Birdy, backed by Andrew Scott’s characteristic blend of comedic charm and emotional depth as Birdy’s profligate father, and an almost unrecognisable Billie Piper as her supportive but concerned mother. The 12A certificate seems appropriate primarily for an intense birthing scene — this is not House of the Dragon, but Dunham does not sanitise it either as the experience leaves an impression on Birdy, catalysing her changing view of her parents. Rebellious girls are likely to love Catherine Called Birdy; others should find it an enjoyable diversion.


"A film is a petrified fountain of thought."

(CC) BY-NC 2003-2023 Priyan Meewella

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