Considering the huge success of Shaun The Sheep Movie back in 2015, it’s no surprise that the eponymous anthropomorphic hero is back for a sequel – Aardman Animations’ first feature-length follow-up, in fact. And while it may not be the best outing in the studio’s back catalogue, A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmaggedon is still worthy of such an honour.
Unlike so many animated movies these days – which think the more brightly-coloured and boisterous the better – Farmaggedon is delightfully quaint as it sees its wordless protagonist continue to torment his nemesis Bitzer the dog, playing frisbee in the fields of Mossy Bottom Farm and ordering pizza when the Farmer isn’t looking. But chaos-loving Shaun finds himself adopting a more responsible outlook when he stumbles across an adorable extraterrestrial named Lu-La, who needs his flock’s help to escape the clutches of an alien-hunting organisation and get back to her home planet.
The role reversal makes for many of the film’s standout moments, like when curious Lu-La discovers the effects of a fizzy drink-induced sugar rush in a local supermarket, much to Shaun’s dismay. Or, when she uses her telekinetic abilities to launch a dumpster into the sky or drive a tractor so fast it leaves geometric circles in the nearby crops.
Chicken Run’s Mrs. Tweedy is arguably Aardman’s most iconic villain, bouncing off her inept husband with comedic results. Farmaggedon utilizes a similar dynamic with Agent Red and her useless, hazmat suit-wearing cronies. It’s sure to entertain littluns when they start taking selfies with Bitzer in a bike helmet, thinking he’s an intergalactic being, while she’s rolling her eyes in the background. She’s got a surprising amount of depth too, which is no mean feat in a movie where no one really speaks. But through poignant flashbacks, the film doubles down on its sweet message about not judging people – or martians – on first appearances.
Elsewhere, older audience members will have fun spotting sci-fi movie references, from Alien and 2001: A Space Odyssey to Arrival. Visually, it’s a triumph too, as it expands Shaun’s contained world far beyond the fences of the farm. Simply put, it’s baa-rilliant.