Fans of Shaun the Sheep around the world had a chance to enjoy Aardman Animation’s latest far-out space-based adventure Farmageddon last fall, but those of us here in the States are getting our first look at the new stop-motion adventure now thanks to Netflix. You can add it to your streaming watch list now to queue it up for this weekend’s watch-along! But what exactly is the sequel to the 2015 feature hit all about?
When an alien named LU-LA crash-lands near Mossy Bottom Farm, her magical powers, irrepressible mischief and galactic sized burps soon have Shaun the Sheep and his flock enchanted. But when Shaun takes his new extraterrestrial friend on the road to find her lost spaceship, little does he know that a sinister alien-hunting agency is on their trail. Now Shaun and the flock must avert Farmageddon before it’s too late. My review follows below:
Five years ago, Shaun the Sheep (Justin Fletcher) came to stop-motion life on the big screen, but it wasn’t the first time audiences were getting to share in the barnyard adventures. The character, created by Nick Park, had enjoyed a run on the small screen for the better part of 10 years in the Shaun the Sheep TV series, itself a spinoff of the wildly successful Wallace and Gromit franchise and, specifically, the 1995 film, A Close Shave. Shaun’s first feature film saw the title character and his woolly flock following after the farmer and into the city. Now, in Farmageddon, a new arrival to Mossy Bottom Farm will take Shaun & Co. further than they ever thought possible.
One of the first things you’ll notice in Farmageddon is that there’s no spoken dialogue; the characters “speak” in a series of grunts, shouts, and unintelligible gibberish. That’s a mainstay in the Shaun the Sheep universe but it’s a clever storytelling trick that makes the tale accessible to anyone, anywhere, regardless of any language or subtitle barriers. It also makes for a super-fun watch for the kiddos out there who get to mimic Shaun and the rest of the colorful characters as they make their silly sounds for the nearly 90-minute runtime.
Farmageddon starts off as a fun, slapsticky adventure with Shaun and the sheep figuring out all kinds of ways to entertain themselves on the farm, at least until Bitzer gets wise to their antics and shuts them down. But what Shaun and the others aren’t ready for is an extraterrestrial visitor who brings a new level of troublemaking talent to the farm, the neighboring town of Mossingham, and the nearby solar system. The hijinks are about to go stratospheric.
But what Shaun soon discovers is that the newcomer, Lu-La (Amalia Vitale), isn’t exactly what she seems, or at least not what Shaun assumes she is at first blush. She’s a lost little visitor who happened to wander to our planet by mistake, and she neither knows how to fully control her powers or how to get back home on her own. That’s up to Shaun and his pals, which adds a new wrinkle to the character, one of growing up and maturing in order to take care of others who are depending on him. A good thing, too, because it’s not just Lu-La’s parents who are looking for her, but also an Earth-based organization led by a woman obsessed with proving the existence of aliens due to some pain in her past.
There are laughs aplenty in Farmageddon but they come with some heartfelt relationship-building between Shaun the caretaker and Lu-La the visitor. And as a hilarious side story, the farmer sees an opportunity in all the alien excitement, recruiting his flock to build an extra-terrestrial attraction for visiting tourists with the hope of earning enough money for a brand-new (and wholly ridiculous) tractor. Farmageddon is a laugh-a-minute ride that makes for an easy, breezy, outer-space adventure to watch this weekend with you and yours.
Farmageddon is directed by Will Becher and Richard Phelan (be sure to listen to my interview with the duo here), from a script written by Jon Brown and Mark Burton with characters by Nick Park, and stars Justin Fletcher, John Sparkes, and Kate Harbour. Check it out on Netflix now!