Okay, here’s the deal: we haven’t seen the finished version of Chicken Run yet. In fact, no one’s seen the finished version of Chicken Run yet. That’s because, at the time of going to press, the Aardman team were still locked up in a Bristol warehouse, desperately working to complete the movie. But we have seen roughly 40 minutes of work in progress – enough to provide a good idea of how the final film will look...
Anyone familiar with Wallace and Gromit will already know what to expect from Aardman’s first foray into big-screen entertainment. There’s plenty of oddly expressive characters with big, googly eyes and wide mouths, and, like Wallace and Gromit, they inhabit a Britain which combines a vaguely 1940s setting with some bizarre sci-fi technology. But, where A Grand Day Out and co focused on mostly dialogue-free action set-pieces, Chicken Run is far more dialogue-led.
Yet this isn’t necessarily a good thing: the likes of Gromit, Feathers McGraw and Sean the sheep were effective precisely because the Plasticene did all the acting. And even the presence of Gibson, along with Britcom regulars such as Ab Fab’s Sawalha and Horrocks, can’t distract from the fact that at times there’s too much chat.
But when Chicken Run does do its frantic-action thing, you’ll find this easy to forgive, and the real gob-smacking comes during scenes like the pie-machine sequence, which sees a wisecracking Rocky and Ginger team up to combat parsnip projectiles, hot gravy squirters and huge squishifying pastry-pounders. The fast-paced animation, combined with a suitably bizarre sense of visual humour, works perfectly on the big screen. It certainly looks like Aardman will do as well in multiplexes as it did in the nation’s front rooms.
There's a suitably witty script, but Chicken Run is at its hen-pecked best when laying on the action. Aardman's laid a golden egg which offers plenty of poultry-powered thrills and gravy spills. From what we've seen, it looks clucking marvellous.