A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon (4 stars)

A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon

The second big screen outing for the Aardman favourite will delight kids and adults alike

The loveable fluffball is baa-ck on the big screen in a pristinely shambolic stop-motion romp from Aardman Animations that offers an idiosyncratic skew on extra-terrestrial encounters. Introduced in 1995's Wallace and Gromit short A Close Shave, before being granted his own 2007 spin-off series, the anarchy of Shaun and co was elevated to an artform in 2015's Shaun the Sheep Movie. Farmageddon follows up fittingly, blending the familiar with the ambitious as it looks to the stars and finds blue rabbits.

Directed by Will Becher and Richard Phelan, making their feature debut, it's in safe hands: Becher was a regular on the series. Down at the farm on the outskirts of Mossingham, the gang of dimwitted sheep, presided over by smarter-than-average Shaun, are getting stuck into some seriously dangerous mischief that puts them at odds with sensible sheepdog Bitzer. Their death-defying antics are interrupted when an alien craft brings a curious visitor to up the ante, with the sinister bods from the Ministry for Alien Detection close behind.

As ever, save the odd mumble, it's a dialogue-free affair. Unafraid of the C-word, cuteness abounds, lovingly moulded in the studio's inimitable claymation style, in service of a rattling good yarn. And, plump of cheek, wide of eye and pink of ear, the otherworldly Lu-Lu is a gorgeously marketable creation who kids will adore.

Featuring lost chips, crap fairground attractions and aghast snails, what's so wonderful about Farmageddon – which is absolutely typical of an Aardman animation – is the deft way it crowd-pleases across the ages, stretching from tiny tots to those who'll remember 1977's Close Encounters in the cinema. With adult sci-fi references aplenty accompanying the splendid craftsmanship, eyes seem firmly on Oscar's Best Animation prize. It might be too bafflingly British for that (though the studio have bagged it before and its predecessor was nominated), but it's easily got the (lamb) chops to be a contender. Not bad for a little lad from Mossy Bottom.

General release from Fri 18 Oct.

A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon

  • 4 stars
  • 2019
  • UK
  • 1h 26min
  • U
  • Directed by: Richard Starzak
  • Cast: Justin Fletcher, John Sparkes
  • UK release: 18 October 2019

Shaun and his gang of sheep are getting up to mischief that puts them at odds with sensible sheepdog Bitzer; then an alien craft arrives. This dialogue-free pristinely shambolic stop-motion romp is, in its deft way, a crowd-pleaser for everyone, with enough Close Encounters references to keep parents interested.