This preview of Chicken Run: Daybreak of the Nugget was first printed along with the movie’s world premiere on the 2023 BFI London Movie Competition. It has been up to date for the movie’s Netflix launch.
The unique 2000 Chicken Run is a pleasant Aardman Animation stop-motion romp about a gang of chickens breaking out of a prison-like poultry farm. It takes its construction and imagery straight from basic prisoner-of-war escape motion pictures, notably 1963’s The Nice Escape, which is why its cheerful plasticine characters inhabit such a dirty, lived-in world of barbed wire, wooden, and brass, of contraptions cobbled collectively from outdated farm implements.
Netflix’s long-in-the-making sequel, Chicken Run: Daybreak of the Nugget, is a comparable movie — a jocular, all-ages, particularly British romp — but it surely appears strikingly totally different. Its inspirations are nonetheless mid-Twentieth-century motion pictures, however longtime stop-motion director Sam Fell (ParaNorman, Flushed Away) has moved the main target from conflict tales to Sixties spy-movie futurism. This sequel takes place in a vibrant world of devices, lasers, sculpted metallic, mechanized metal doorways, and mind-control plots.
A major inspiration right here is the James Bond motion pictures, however Daybreak of the Nugget takes much more components from Mission: Impossible — each the unique Sixties-Nineteen Seventies TV sequence, and the later movie incarnation that has change into Tom Cruise’s life’s work. In response to Fell and the manufacturing workforce, who attended the movie’s world premiere on the London Movie Competition, the concept for a sequel to Aardman’s best-loved movie began with a single phrase that lives on as its tagline: “This time, they’re breaking in!” The movie’s focus just about is that easy: An escape movie has change into a heist movie, with the chickens infiltrating a high-tech farm facility that isn’t fairly what it appears.
The setup is that sensible Ginger and reckless Rocky — now performed by Westworld star Thandiwe Newton and Zachary Levi, changing the unique’s Julia Sawalha and Mel Gibson — have settled down with the remainder of the liberated chickens on a secret island, hidden from human eyes. They reside an idyllic existence there, however the couple’s daughter, Molly (The Final of Us co-star Bella Ramsey), has a pure spirit of journey that strains towards Ginger’s overprotective bubble. Sooner or later, Molly spies vans on the mainland promoting what seems to be a utopian rooster paradise referred to as Enjoyable-Land Farms, and runs away to research.
Enjoyable-Land Farms is, it seems, the brand new enterprise of the unique movie’s villain, Mrs. Tweedy (Miranda Richardson, nonetheless): It’s an elaborate fortress guarded by robotic moles and rocket-firing geese, and run by Tweedy’s new mad-scientist husband, Dr. Fry (Ted Lasso’s Nick Mohammed). The key sauce in Tweedy and Fry’s rooster recipe is a mind-control collar, paired with a Truman Present-style idealized synthetic atmosphere meaning the manufacturing facility’s chickens go to slaughter feeling completely happy and relaxed — and apparently a lot tastier that method. When Molly will get caught on this devious system, Ginger, Rocky, and a few of their outdated buddies set off to interrupt her out.
A few of the gags this setup suggests are extra apparent than others. Daybreak of the Nugget has a gloriously foolish non sequitur about a type of eye-scanning door locks no supervillain fortress is full with out, but additionally its fair proportion of set-pieces we’ve seen earlier than, because the chickens sneak by means of air vents or disguise themselves as bushes. As standard for Aardman tasks, the movie is gorgeously polished, but it surely’s additionally sluggish to seek out its rhythm, and as a sequel arriving 23 years after the unique, it generally feels extra like an obligation than a movie the studio actually wanted, or needed, to make. The primary half is easily rote, however as soon as the motion strikes totally contained in the surreal world of Enjoyable-Land Farms, the power picks up and the concepts start to circulate.
That’s partly because of the filmmakers’ apparent love of these stylized ’60s espionage classics, which incorporates referencing deep cuts in addition to broad ones. There’s a tart, satirical, virtually paranoid edge to the mind-control conceit — a suggestion that a comforting, completely happy life as a good citizen is simply lulling you towards the meat grinder — that’s harking back to an obscure, unforgettably bizarre British cousin to Mission: Impossible and James Bond: The Prisoner. This cult Sixties TV present stars an especially indignant Patrick McGoohan (additionally the present’s creator) as a undercover agent referred to as Quantity Six who is trapped in an idyllic folly of a coastal village the place everybody is pleasant, however escape is unimaginable.
One thing in regards to the unreal paradise the chickens are confined to in Daybreak of the Nugget and the schoolmasterly-but-sinister perspective of their captors (in addition to the bowler-hatted restaurant purchaser who desires to purchase their nuggets) jogged my memory of The Prisoner’s suffocating dystopia of cream teas, paperwork, and a weird white blob that chased down any would-be escapees. I may simply image Ginger turning furiously to the digicam and uttering Quantity Six’s well-known cry: “I am not a number! I am a free chicken!”
Chicken Run: Daybreak of the Nugget streaming on Netflix now.