'Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget' review: Breezy sequel doesn't lay an egg
Courtesy of Netflix
23 years removed from when audiences were introduced to Aardman’s first (and, to this date, most successful) feature length film, “Chicken Run,” comes the sequel, cheekily subtitled “Dawn of the Nugget.” It’s releasing on Netflix, which is a bummer as the clever follow-up would’ve soared on the big screen considering it pops with vibrant colors, gorgeous animation, and a story that matches the “The Great Escape” scope of its predecessor. Still, it’s a wonderful addition to the Aardman library and complements their already exceptional filmmaking standards while proving this is a medium that can’t be replaced by CGI animation.
Directed by Sam Fell, the film picks up almost immediately after the end of “Chicken Run,” where the flock managed to escape the clutches of Tweedy’s farm and found sanctuary at a nearby island. Ginger the hen (oddly voiced by Thandiwe Newton as opposed to original voice actor Julia Sawalha) and Rocky Rooster (Zachary Levi stepping in for Mel Gibson) are living an idyllic lifestyle with their crew of feathered pals and have recently hatched a chick named Molly (Belly Ramsey) who quickly grows up into a fearless adventurer much like her parents.
Growing tired of the routine lifestyle she leads, Molly decides to ditch the island to see what else is on the horizon. She seeks out a place called “Fun-Land Farms,” but it does not come as the happy-go-lucky place initially advertised. It’s essentially “The Island” for chickens, where they are brainwashed into thinking a life of prosperity and unlimited happiness awaits them when they are “chosen.” In reality, they’ll be turned into, you guessed it, chicken nuggets.
What ensues is a heist movie where Ginger, Rooster, and several other franchise favorites break into the facilities to rescue Molly and it’s a wonderful treat. They take on gigantic robots, bumbling security guards, and even the notorious Mrs. Tweedy comes back for round two like the Bond villain who never dies. The shift in genres gives “Dawn of the Nugget” an edge over recent family fodder because it’s thrilling and funny. Though it might lack the panache and simplicity of the first outing (plus, aside from Gibson, I don’t understand the reasoning behind recasting most of the characters), there’s no denying Aardman’s attention to detail and willingness to push the art of claymation further than before is something we shouldn’t take for granted.
CHICKEN RUN: DAWN OF THE NUGGET streams on Netflix Friday, December 15th.