The birds are back! While it’s been 23 years for us, it hasn’t been much for our feathered friends who, after escaping from Tweedys’ poultry farm in Chicken Run, are now settled in an idyllic bird sanctuary island. But chickens crossing roads has become too cliché, so, for a new adventure, they have to cross a lot more and this journey, journaled as Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget, is a worthy sequel that nearly misses the bull’s eye (or the bird’s eye).
If the first film was about a group of British anthropomorphic chickens ‘Shawshank Redemption’-ing their way out of a farm, thanks to the efforts of Ginger and American circus rooster Rocky, in the sequel, the duo — who are a couple now (voiced by Thandiwe Newton and Zachary Levi) — has to ‘Saving Private Ryan’ their way into a nugget processing plant to rescue their daughter Molly (Bella Ramsey) and other chickens. It’s not an overstatement to say that the makers at Aardman Animation reinvented the wheel with Chicken Run which became the highest-grossing stop-motion animated film in history apart from becoming a classic. The studio doesn’t push the envelope when it comes to the sequel which, despite being funny and carrying the essence of the original film, doesn’t break boundaries like its predecessor.
Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget (English)
Director: Sam Fell
Cast: Thandiwe Newton, Zachary Levi, Bella Ramsey, Josie Sedgwick-Davies, Miranda Richardson, David Bradley
Run-time: 98 minutes
Storyline: Ginger and Rocky, after escaping from the farm, have to gatecrash a processing plant to save lives
What works for the film is how it never gets into the nitty-gritty of its core plot surrounding the mass production of animal-based products as opposed to a film like Bong Joon-ho’s Okja. Instead, keeping its target audience in mind, it sticks to the basics and unfolds more as a rescue mission flick. But it’s not all smooth sailing for the viewers and our poultry pals.
The original characters are back but the almost-new voice cast doesn’t recreate the magic of the original. The idea to make the plot antithetical to the original is intriguing, but the execution isn’t as well-rounded as expected. The impeccable British humour works wonders, but the jokes are few and far between. The visuals are fantastic and there are even references to classics like The Truman Show, and the James Bond and Mission Impossible films, but the sheer creativity employed in the first film, with the way the chickens manage to make their grand exit, isn’t the same here.
What the film makes you miss the most is the big-screen experience where the stop-motion technique would’ve been more gratifying to watch. Nevertheless, working on a sequel for a classic like Chicken Run is like walking on eggshells and while it’s not exemplary as the original film, Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget is a neat little entertainer that’s got enough to charm the birds off the trees.
Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget is currently streaming on Netflix