Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget (2023) Movie Review – An undercooked sequel that needed more time in Aardman’s oven

An undercooked sequel that needed more time in Aardman’s oven

It has been a long time since we last saw a Chicken Run movie. While Aardman’s Shaun the Sheep and Wallace and Gromit have been seen multiple times since their initial TV and movie outings, the chickens of Tweedy’s Farm have been waiting a long time for a new story to hatch. 

Of course, the question needs to be asked: Did we really need a sequel to Chicken Run?

After our feathered heroes made their escape from the diabolical Mrs Tweedy in the first movie, they were granted the happy ending they deserved. Babs, who famously didn’t want to become a pie because of her intolerance to gravy, will have been especially happy to have been freed from her farmyard prison.

But despite the pointlessness of a sequel, we have been given one anyway, thanks to a collaboration between Netflix and the film’s creators, Aardman Animations. It begins with a brief introduction that brings viewers up to speed with what happened in the last movie and then moves into the present where we see our plucky chickens enjoying life on an idyllic island. 

All is well until Molly, the daughter of Rocky and Ginger, gets itchy feet. She wants to travel across the waters to lands anew, much to the dismay of her parents who are aware of the dangers that await any chicken who dares to venture inland.

After becoming intrigued by the passing vans emblazoned with a ‘Fun-Land Farm’ logo which holds a promise of happier pastures, she teams up with her friend Frizzle and heads off on a journey to this new paradise. 

As expected, Fun-Land Farm is not the nirvana they expected. It turns out to be a poultry prison where chickens are fattened up to become fast food (the clue was in the movie’s title). After noticing their daughter has gone missing, Rocky, Ginger and the rest of their gang embark on a Mission Impossible-esque rescue mission to bring the youngsters home and save the rest of chicken-kind from a less-than-savoury end.

This premise isn’t a bad one, despite being a little too close to the plotline of the original film. But whereas the first outing for these loveable chickens was charming and funny, this sequel fails to capture the same kind of magic. This is partly down to the animation style which combines stop-motion technology with CGI. The consequence of this is slicker visuals which are admittedly impressive but which lack the distinctiveness of Aardman’s trademark claymation effects. There will be some people who have no problem with this but those who valued the homemade look of the studio’s previous animated works will likely be disappointed by the generic-looking style of the sequel. 

Another issue is the fact that Chicken Run 2 is less funny than the first movie. This isn’t to say it’s not enjoyable as the characters in the film are almost as fun to watch as they were the first time around. But with fewer visual gags, and lines of dialogue that are often more cringey than amusing, this fails to contain the rewatchability factor of the original Chicken Run. 

In the run-up to this movie’s release, much has been said about the change of voice cast. Not every actor has been replaced – you’ll be glad to know the wonderfully talented Jane Horrocks is still voicing the dopey Babs – but Mel Gibson is no longer voicing Rocky, who is now played by Zachary Levi, and Julia Sawalha has been replaced by Thandiwe Newton.

These casting decisions were criticized by some but to be honest, you probably won’t notice the differences in voices, unless you watch the sequel back-to-back with the first film. The new actors do just as good a job of delivering their lines as the previous cast members, with special mention of Bella Ramsey who does a brilliant job at voicing new addition to the flock, Molly. It’s unfortunate these actors don’t have the funniest of lines to convey but they work with what they have regardless and elevate the surprisingly weak material.

It’s worth noting that, like the first film, Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget, is occasionally quite sinister. One particular scene that comes to mind is of a chicken on a conveyor belt unwittingly heading towards its death via a meat processor. The fact that the chicken thinks it has won a prize and is powerless to escape its fate might be too much to take for more sensitive children. We imagine a lot of parents will be forced into conversations about the origins of chicken nuggets with their inquisitive kids after that scene has ended. 

Ultimately, this is a movie that didn’t need to be made. It’s enjoyable enough during its slightly overlong running time but fans of the original might be left hungry by the less-than-satisfying gag rate and slightly predictable story. With more time in the writers’ oven, the script could have been sharper and wittier. But as it is, we are left with a movie that, for the most part, fails to meet eggs-pectations (sorry).


Feel free to check out more of our movie reviews here!

 

Read More: Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget Ending Explained


 

  • Verdict - 6/10
    6/10
6/10

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