Prove your humanity

If you watched the Shaun the Sheep series as a child, this new instalment will give you warm nostalgic feelings—as it did for me. Maybe its connection to the brilliantly quirky Wallace and Gromit films will pull you in. However, if you’re unfamiliar with these titles, then this film will provide little entertainment.

The film starts with the introduction of Lu-La, a cute alien who is even more troublesome than the titular character himself. She has become lost on Earth, landing in the town of Mossingham. The film continues on as Shaun and the sheep of Mossy Bottom Farm attempt to help Lu-La return to her home planet of Topa.

Watching this quirky TV series after school as a kid, I would get swept up in the amazing animation and the mischievous adventures of Shaun. However, its move from the small screen to the big one feels awkward and unconsidered.

Twenty minutes of sheep on a farm with no dialogue is engaging in a way that sets itself apart from not just other children’s shows, but most shows on television. Unfortunately, transitioning this unconventional format to film is a tough ask for most audiences, which is a shame since the movie’s predecessor, Wallace and Gromit, combines similarly quirky story-lines and dialogue to create a truly unique comedy for all ages to enjoy.

Kids should be fine with the lack of dialogue but it’s a bit unfortunate that the movie’s producers didn’t consider the people who actually have the ticket-buying power—the parents, babysitters and older brothers and sisters.

When choosing from the array of kid-friendly movies out during the school holidays, I would recommend that adults try their hardest to sway their kids away from this film. Most children’s films make sure to include some mature humour that is subtle enough to go over the kids’ heads but enough to keep the adults happy; Shaun the Sheep fails to do that.

Given the complete absence of the spoken word, the film’s score really shines. Tom Howe, the film’s composer, has also produced the music for television shows such as The Great British Bake Off and Locked up Abroad. But now he brings his talents to the animated world of Shaun the Sheep, accentuating the film’s moments of humour and sadness. Audiences will find that there are scenes in the film that will make them genuinely feel sad for the homesick Lu-La, and Howe’s score deserves a lot of credit for that. Howe told Cineworld that the movie’s producer wanted a score reminiscent of the work of the brilliant John Williams but he delivers something much better. The score is simple, original and emphasises the best parts of the film.

While this film may bore older audiences with its lack of dialogue, they can at least delight in the amazing animation. The most engrossing parts of the whole movie are the details, with references to many sci-fi films and TV shows such as ET and Doctor Who. Lose concentration for a moment and you’ll miss these Easter eggs. By doing this, the movie demands you pay attention to every second. Without dialogue, your eyes must stay on the big screen instead of the small one in your lap.

If you’ve never heard of the television series, you’re likely to be spending the whole movie trying to work out what you’re actually meant to be enjoying. Without any childhood associations, you will most likely struggle to keep from falling asleep in the cinema. So for any first-time viewers of the Shaun the Sheep franchise, I would give it a miss.

Shaun the Sheep: Farmaggedon is in cinemas 9 January, 2020.