Shaun The Sheep Movie - Blu-ray Review

'There is plenty of invention and charm in the storytelling that somewhat makes up for the simplicity of the story being told'.

Much like powerhouse CGI animation studio Pixar, so consistent is the quality of the work of Aardman Animation that it makes more sense to judge new releases against their own back catalogue over anything else. Aardman are the reigning kings of stop-motion, a position they have arguably now held for over twenty years. The studio's style and attention to detail is their unmistakable calling card, making every new release a charming feast for the eye that brims with personality.

Shaun The Sheep Movie is no different in that respect. Aardman's fingerprints are all over this, if you'll pardon the pun. The world of Shaun and his flock is brilliantly realised, with The Big City in which the woolly ones find themselves recognisably serving as several British metropolises in one. The characters too, whilst some of the simplest offerings from the studio, join the long list of Aardman creations it's hard not to become enamoured with incredibly quickly.

That simplicity is something which permeates much of Shaun The Sheep Movie, and ultimately becomes its greatest limiting factor. Being spun off from a children's TV series, it's no surprise that the film is aimed first and foremost at the younger members of the audience. There are a handful of references clearly there for the adults, but when compared to the studio's last feature film The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists! or anything from Aardman's Wallace And Gromit franchise - in which Shaun made his first appearance - Shaun The Sheep Movie undeniably falls a little short in terms of universal appeal.

When it comes to plot, co-writers and directors Mark Burton and Richard Starzack also keep things simple. It's a wise choice for a child-focused approach, but does make Shaun The Sheep Movie feel a little too comfortable in its episodic nature. Again, compare the narrative here to Aardman's past work, or indeed other critically-acclaimed animated children's cinema of recent years, and there's no denying that Burton and Starzack could have afforded to challenge themselves a little more here and there.

That said, there is plenty of invention and charm in the storytelling that somewhat makes up for the simplicity of the story being told. That the film has no spoken dialogue at all, and that this never becomes a problem for Burton and Starzack, is testament to the pair's creative ingenuity. There are also some lovely animation set pieces scattered throughout, with an early sequence involving a runaway caravan proving particularly memorable.

Shaun The Sheep Movie is undeniably funny, perfectly enjoyable and infectiously endearing; but it also never manages to stretch Aardman into doing anything new or different from what we've seen from the studio before. That said, in bringing a TV series with an average episode time of seven minutes to the big screen, Burton and Starzack's film is most definitely a success. Anyone under ten, or anyone watching with youngsters of that age, can easily add an extra star to the score at the end of this review.

By Ben Broadribb. Ben is a regular contributor to Film Intel, having previously written at Some Like It Hot Fuzz. He is normally seen in the wild wearing t-shirts containing obscure film references. He is a geek, often unashamedly so. He's also on and Twitter.

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