Shaun and Lu-La phone home.

A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon

Dept. of Ovine Hijinks


I am, unlike Martin Scorsese, not someone who uses the word “cinema” as an adjective. Not unless I’m saying it in a particularly self-important way and making fun of the kind of people who do. That being said, I can’t think of a better word to describe this utterly joyous film. Farmageddon is cinema and everything it entails. It is a masterclass in show don’t tell. It is immediately relatable, irrespective of where you’re from, how old you are, or what language you speak. It is truly universal.

Remember that this is a sequel to a movie, that was originally an adaptation of a television series, that spun out of a short film, from a different franchise altogether. Under any other circumstance, and in different hands, it would scream commodification. But Aardman, much like Pixar and Studio Ghibli, are driven by a devotion to quality that is unprecedented in the history of cinema. Which is why this movie screams “art” instead.

Shaun and Lu-La and so much pizza.

Shaun has come a long way since being a guest star on Wallace and Gromit’s A Close Shave. These days, the little guy is tangling with space aliens. Well, one space alien in particular, the adorable bunny-like Lu-La, whom he encounters hiding in his barn and eating all of his pizza. It’s the beginning of a beautiful friendship and a madcap journey across town (and space) in search for Lu-La’s lost family.

Everything that follows is signature Aardman, featuring unlikely characters setting off on a heroic adventure, across a myriad of wildly ingenious settings. There is no dialogue here whatsoever. All of the characters, human, animal, and alien, speak in unintelligible argle-bargle. And yet, the movie is chock-full witty wordplay. My favourite, a sign at the farmer’s exploitative UFO-based theme park, just points up to the night sky urging spectators to “See the moon!”. The gags come at you a mile a minute and each and every one of them land. There are silly slapstick sequences, all of them pulled off with dance-like precision. There are dozens of blink-and-you’ll-miss-them references to E.T.Doctor Who2001: A Space OdysseyMen in Black, and The X-Files. They are profoundly clever. They are profoundly funny.

Debut directors Will Becher and Richard Phelan aren’t shy about their influences. There is a real affection in the way they pay homage to the science fiction legends that came before. Always a knowing nod and never gratuitous.

Farmageddon is also profoundly beautiful. There is something about stop-motion animation that still feels like magic. The painstaking work that goes into crafting a scene. The insanely intricate detail within each and every frame. It is something impossible. And yet, there it is. It is handmade. And it feels all the richer for it. (Everyone knows that if you look closely at any frame of an Aardman stop-motion animation, you can still see the fingerprints of the animator who lovingly manipulated the models to create movement and emotion.)

Look at that sheep. He's so fluffy. I want to bury my head in his fleece.

A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon is a testament to the power of great storytelling. And while it definitely skews towards a younger audience, it does so without ever talking down to its audience. Without ever sacrificing nuance or complexity. The power of Aardman’s movies has always been in their ability to find the best that humanity has to offer, whether by way of a posh pet rat, a cocky rooster, or a clever and quick-witted sheep. In Farmageddon, they channel this faith into a fable about strength in diversity, about looking out for those who can’t look out for themselves, and about the ability to find hope and redemption in the unlikeliest of places. If that isn’t a veiled metaphor for a Britain that’s been led astray, I don’t know what is.

Take your children to watch this movie. Take other people’s children. Take yourselves. It is cinema that’ll feed your heart, mind, and soul.

A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon
87 minutes
Directors: Will Becher and Richard Phelan
Writers: Mark Burton and Jon Brown
Story: Richard Starzak
Cast: Justin Fletcher, John Sparkes, Amalia Vitale, Kate Harbour, David Holt, Richard Webber, Simon Greenall, Emma Tate, Andy Nyman, Chris Morrell, and Joe Sugg.

Uma has been reviewing things for most of his life: movies, television shows, books, video games, his mum's cooking, Bahir's fashion sense. He is a firm believer that the answer to most questions can be found within the cinematic canon. In fact, most of what he knows about life he learned from Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. He still hasn't forgiven Christopher Nolan for the travesties that are Interstellar and The Dark Knight Rises.

Previous Story

Free Guy (Official Trailer)

Next Story

Lost In Space, Season 2 (Official Trailer)

Latest from Movie Reviews