Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget review – Aardman works wonders with their cracking sequel
Sam Fell directs Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget. The film stars the voices of Thandiwe Newton, Zachary Levi, Bella Ramsey, Romesh Ranganathan, David Bradley, Daniel Mays, Jane Horrocks, Imelda Staunton, Lynn Ferguson, Josie Sedgwick-Davies, Nick Mohammed, and Miranda Richardson.
Twenty-three years ago, Aardman struck gold with their animated comedy caper Chicken Run, a film that is still as funny and entertaining as it was in 2000. Now, they look to recapture the same charm that made the original work in so many ways with a brand new sequel that, to many, is probably about 15 years too late but is still welcomed nonetheless.
Firstly, this goes without saying, but the animation looks gorgeous in this film. A certain timeless appeal comes from stop-motion animation, specifically those made by Aardman, and Dawn of the Nugget thoroughly relishes in it. This results in some of the most colourful and vibrant set pieces ever coming from one of their films. All captured brilliantly by Sam Fell’s incredibly tight direction. Not a single shot is wasted as the film rapidly bounces from one scene to the next without hesitation.
The characters are also just as lovable as they were when we last left them 23 years ago…however, they do sound a little different with age. One of the main talking points of the film, months before it had even been released, was that Julia Sawalha and Mel Gibson, who famously voiced Ginger and Rocky in the original, were being replaced with Thandiwe Newton and Zachary Levi for this new sequel. Newton and Levi do a decent job filling in as these two characters. They sound the part, and it doesn’t feel like they’re trying to do new and crazy things with the characters they’re playing, yet they also ride that line of never attempting full-blown impressions, either.
There is also the new character of Molly, voiced by Bella Ramsey, who works wonders here. She is instantly likeable and brings some much-needed vulnerability to her character, making the slightly more tender moments hit a little harder. Thankfully, not all voice cast members are new, as we have several original cast members returning for this latest adventure. Jane Horrocks continues to be hilarious as Babs, Imelda Staunton is delightful as Bunty, and Miranda Richardson steals the show yet again as the utterly ruthless Mrs. Tweedy.
Unfortunately, the one area in Dawn of the Nugget that falls short is its story. The character dynamics and life-or-death scenarios the chickens find themselves in are just as entertaining as ever, but the plot itself does feel a tad predictable. This doesn’t hinder the film as much as you’d think it would, but it is noticeable and may grate some audiences more than others.
Dawn of the Nugget is a pleasant reminder of what makes Aardman such a special animation studio. It is filled with all the humour, fun and heart you would expect from one of their films, and it is all handled with such care and consideration. Is it as good as the original? It’s not quite, but it is still a thoroughly enjoyable experience for what it’s worth, and one you should check out if you are a fan of that first film.
Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget is now available to stream on Netflix.