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Tag: Sam Fell

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: ParaNorman (2012)

“There’s nothing wrong with being scared, Norman, so long as you don’t let it change who you are.”


The second feature from stop-motion supremos Laika, ParaNorman is perhaps a perfectly pitched family-friendly ghost story. Its scares are quick and sharp rather than the pervasive creepiness of Coraline’s other world and, although it features zombies, there is sufficient slapstick to undercut their horror. The titular Norman is a kid with the ability to speak to the dead, something that results in his ostracisation as a freak until he becomes the only one capable of saving the town. The derivative tale might kindly be described as “traditional”, with an interesting conclusion that revolves around the power of storytelling, a theme that Laika would explore further in the extraordinary Kubo and the Two Strings. Although the voice cast features a number of high profile names, unusually for animated fare they are not hired to be recognisable, only Christopher Mintz-Plasse being easily identifiable as Norman’s bully. The artistry of Laika’s character design is the highlight, eschewing the generically smooth features that pervade most animation for a distinctive and fresh appearance to each of their films.


"A film is a petrified fountain of thought."

(CC) BY-NC 2003-2023 Priyan Meewella

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