Top notch animation and a witty script full to the brim with gags
Shaun the Sheep Movie Review
Everyday seems like summer with you.Shaun the Sheep is an Aardman Animation spin-off from their ever popular Wallace and Gromit franchise and was originally a series of short episodes made for children’s TV. However, just like Wallace who graduated to the big screen in Curse of the Wererabbit, Shaun has now made that same leap. And just like Wallace whose film was a natural extension of the short features, based on a simple premise that was extremely successful, so too Shaun has followed the same path. The Shaun the Sheep Movie is just that, a natural extension based on a simple premise that stays faithful to its origins and never tries to be anything other than entertaining. As a result the film is simply enchanting. The story is extremely simple, and could have come straight from the original TV series.Shaun, fed up of his daily routine tricks the farmer into sleeping so he can have a day off. When the farmer ends up, by a series of mishaps, in the big city with no memory, it’s up to Shaun and his fellow sheep to rescue him and return safely to the farm. What could be simpler? Well, the introduction of Trumper the unscrupulous animal collector tries to stop them at every turn, certainly complicates matters. Thankfully Shaun’s ingenuity sees them through! For a film with no dialogue that relies entirely on simple noises and a terrific score, there is still a huge emotional involvement into the sheep’s plight. It is a testament to the skill of the writers and animators that this emotional investment drives the film along and makes it such a heart-warming success.
Blu-ray Picture QualityThe disc presents a theatrically correct 1.85:1 aspect ratio using the AVC codec and is region locked to B. Shot digitally and in stop motion, the detail on show is incredible and really reveals how intricate the models and sets are. The characters themselves are extremely well made, the wool of the sheep, the patterns on the clothing and facial expressions, eyes and water for example. The sets are just sublime, from brickwork to foliage, from road paintings to muddy tracks, from caravan interiors to open fields – everything is pin sharp and textured. It's a testament to the model makers that everything can look so well made – the sets, mind, are huge (see making of’s) with animator’s being able to walk in some of them!
It's a testament to the model makers that everything can look so well made.
Colouring is just as good with all the primaries coming off with aplomb, reds are bold, greens (especially) are lush and blues cool. There is no sign of wash or bleed, nor any banding. Skin colour is also well represented (for puppets) as is the various shades of hair. Brightness and contrast are set to give terrific blacks which add great depth to frame and punch to the picture, though the film seldom uses pitch black, when it does (such as in the animal cells) it is very well done with a little show of detail if necessary, but for the most part – impenetrable. There are no instances of crush, nor any of white clipping. Digitally there were no compression problems or any edge enhancement, no smearing, jaggies, posterization or banding – being digital there are no print issues either. An excellent picture.
Blu-ray Sound QualityTwo tracks to choose from English LPCM 2.0 (default) and DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround, I went with the surround. Just as the picture is fantastic, so is the sound; being made from the ground up everything matches the on screen action exactly and the surround field is stunning. Stereo effects come thick and fast, form the sheep moving across the screen to wide open areas of the city scape, buses, cars, motorcycles and crowd chatter providing just some of the effects. There is no dialogue to the film but the various noises that the characters make are quite natural sounding and are given plenty of directionality when called for. The score is very high in the mix and gets some very wide separation making full use of the surround speakers, which are in near constant use for ambient effects. Bass is very well integrated into the mix, and there are a few nice low frequency effects, but it never really goes subterranean, not that it needed to. On the whole a very satisfying track.
Blu-ray ExtrasMaking the Shaun Movie – The longest feature at 12 minutes starts off well (a short skit with the directors writing the script in the style of the film) but soon becomes a series of very mundane soundbytes interspersed with film clips – probably only 6 minutes of actual interview material.
Meeting the Characters – As if you don’t know who the characters are from the film, though you get to see the puppets and the animators responsible for them.
Join Shaun Behind the Scenes – A look at the sets which are awesome and huge!
Meet the Crew – How can such a small amount of footage still be repeatable?
Shaun the Sheep Movie Blu-ray VerdictAnyone who has seen the Shaun the Sheep TV animations will have an idea on what to expect from this movie – the animation is top notch, the writing is above par and as well as being extremely funny it is also very entertaining. What may surprise is the amount of emotion that these simple stop motion puppets can exude. The story of Shaun trying to rescue the Farmer who is trapped in the city with no memory becomes a heart-wrenching struggle for the sheep as they are thwarted at nearly every turn by situations of the own making or the machinations of Trumper. The jokes come thick and fast, most of them one-gag in style, some of them slap-stick and others aimed at adults, making this an extremely enjoyable film on many levels.
Children will get a huge amount out of the film; seeing their favourite character get into all sorts of mischief in the big city. Whereas adults will enjoy it just as much for the emotional story - be careful what you wish for, and there’s no place like home. The emotional core of Shaun’s dependence on the Farmer really pulls on the heartstrings; the climactic scene in the shed when the Farmer's memory is still unclear cannot fail to bring a lump to your throat. And when Shaun thinks all is lost and those animated eyes well up – you’d need a heart of stone not to do the same.
With top notch animation, a witty and sharp script full to the brim with gags and an emotional core of love and dependence, makes this film truly a winner. Aardman have proven time and again they are a powerhouse in both animation and story-telling and Shaun the Sheep Movie is just another in their long line of successes.
The jokes come thick and fast.
As a Blu-ray, the set from Studiocanal is pretty decent; the picture is stunning in its representation, bright colours, incredible detail and wonderful depth, while the sound is fantastic in its surround environment. Shame the extras are a little thin on the ground, though the Making of does start out well, if only they could have continued this! On the whole the film will win out over the disc’s short comings though, making it a terrific blind buy.
You can buy Shaun the Sheep Movie on Blu-ray here
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