Okay so Chicken Run, Aardman's version of 'The Great Escape'. I love The Great Escape it defines the ideal 'Escape from Prison' storyline for a film. Here Aardman present Tweedy's farm very similar to the Nazi prison camp in 'The Great Escape' having moshing mud pit, the huts are assembled in a signified order in rows, the chickens are roll called in assembling order and standing in line, the chickens are trying to escape.
Any viewer couldn't miss the similarities between this and The Great Escape if they tried, they are very easy to identify and are easy to relate to. And it's done in such a lightly comedic way, it's not taking the mickey out of the film, but just sort of putting a clever adaptation on it; to say the least? It may not relate to younger audiences who haven't seen or even heard of The Great Escape's existence, but what they will be watching it for is the animation and the plasticine figures.
I think Adult audiences and or Parents, should or indeed do know that although this film is rated U, that means suitable for audiences of all ages, and there is nothing in it unsuitable for children; it may be too scary or hard to follow for children under the age of say Six or Seven. A minor character is killed off-screen, and characters are in deep peril throughout the film, and it's all about them trying to get away from that.
You have Ginger, who is a leader who cares about the survival of herself and everyone else who are trying to escape, which happens to be every single chicken on the farm. The film's clever slogan of 'This ain't no chick flick' is very much justified throughout the progression of the film, implying mild humor which makes sense.
What's great about this? Well it's all down to the wonderfully clever people at Aardman, who are so fantastic at what they do. Animator Nick Park (Creator of Wallace & Gromit) is in some cases, a master at creating a world that is enchantingly believable. The farm appears to be set in the 1950's, and in every detail, down to the last nail in the last board on the hen house wall, looks exactly as it should. The chickens are highly individual, highly detailed, and wildly funny, as are the secondary characters. Family audiences alike will delight in Peter Lord's and Nick Park's Rube Goldberg-like machines and split-second action sequences as they are very pacy and are accompanied by great soundtrack to match which is memorable and sticks out in the viewers mind for a long time.
Now, children may or may not get all the jokes presented in this, but they will pick up on more things as they get older. I think this is a film which benefits both young and adult audiences, because they each get what they can out of it, some people might get more out of it than other, some won't. I mean take some of the 1950s references for example : they may even escape some adults. There is a wonderful variety of British accents in it, but that shouldn't deter non-Brit viewers. Both children and adults will find much to enjoy in the chickens' adventures and their incredibly creative, highly detailed, animated world. Which is set up to replicate 'The Great Escape' how a common battery hen chicken farm, can be constructed like a prison camp.
For instance, there is a scene at the beginning with Mr Tweedy out on patrol with the guard dogs; who are very vicious. There is a watch tower, shining a light, a chain linked fence under lock and key and topped with barbed wire. All these contributing factors establish mood to the grimness of the surroundings.
Here's a sneak peak at what to expect.
This film contains a number of guest stars coming into do the voices of several characters. Mel Gibson as Rocky the Rooster is the most identifiable member of the cast amongst most viewers. However I wouldn't essentially put a stamp on this film working, partly to do with the cast. The film was cast very well, but it's not a key factor to why it's so good.
This is a time of 2000, where films were being made and sometimes, you wouldn't be watching it for the cast. You'd be watching it for the story, and the film itself. People tend to watch a film these days to see someone they like, they are not watching it for the director, or the producer or the script writer or the costume designer, or the assistant floor manager or whatever. I think it's the characters, the design of it, the high detail which entices people in, and once your in, you are guaranteed to enjoy it.
It opens up topical debate as well, for instance people can talk about why it was hard for Rocky to tell the truth; and even to understand what telling the truth meant.
Also, Ginger's perseverance in the face of what are very steep odds, her refusal to escape without her friends, and the importance of leadership and teamwork, is both educational and inspiring. The message is still there, and it's starring you in the face in the character of Ginger. 'NEVER Give Up!'.
The film also begs the question of why does Ginger have a dream of freedom that some of the other chickens can't even imagine? What does it mean to say that "the fences aren't just around the farm. they're up here on your head"?
Anyway, rounding off this review. Chicken Run is a superb film, and one that deserves a lot more attention. 9/10
NEXT : Flushed Away.