Aardman Animations, the award-winning production company that brought us the innovative Wallace and Gromit has now delivered Shaun the Sheep Movie to a cinema near you.
Day-in-day-out, Shaun and his flock endure the unrelenting routines imposed on them by The Farmer and his dog Bitzer. A passing bus with signage encouraging passers by to 'take a break' motivates Shaun into action - swiftly and cleverly implementing a plan to give them a day's break.
Alas, their well intentioned plan backfires with disastrous consequences, landing The Farmer, Bitzer, Shaun and his flock in the Big City and far away from the lush pastures of Mossy Bottom.
The storyline centres around The Farmer losing his memory and trying to reclaim his identity from what little memory he has left. It's not smooth sailing for Shaun and his flock - who must first contend with and outwit the dastardly animal warden from the Animal Containment Unit before they can focus on returning The Farmer and themselves back to Mossy Bottom.
There's plenty of tongue-in-cheek humour throughout the movie. Personally, the draw card for us was the cat held prisoner within a cell identical to and reminiscent of Hannibal Lecter's in Silence of the Lambs (ironic really - the title I mean). To see what this cat gets up to - stay tuned for the end scenes.
Down to the nitty-gritty - Shaun the Sheep Movie does not have spoken dialogue which is where it differs from Wallace and Gromit. I think this is where the producers should have given a bit more consideration to the target audience (at the screening we attended, the audience were mostly children of junior primary and/or toddler age and their parents).
Shaun the Sheep's television episodes normally average 7 minutes in length which is why they succeed in keeping a younger audience engaged. With Shaun the Sheep Movie's run time of 85 minutes I noticed a number of children and their parents struggle to stay focussed on what was a detailed, action-packed plot.
Aardman continues to produce superb stop-motion animation - it's amazing how they've evolved Shaun the Sheep from initially being a spin-off from Wallace and Gromit into a feature film with fully developed characters.
If you have youngsters with great attention-spans who are fans of Shaun the Sheep, then this movie's for you.