Shaun The Sheep Movie: Rich & Funny Claymation With a Staggering Level of Detail [Review]

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After seeing the Fantastic Four, I felt so dirty that I decided to do a small review for Shaun the Sheep to cleanse my palette.  Now I can’t help but compare the two.   Shaun the Sheep is better paced, with actual storytelling – it even looks better.  Certainly it has better dialogue.  In short, Shaun the Sheep outdoes Fantastic Four in every way except, it seems, in box office revenue.

When Shaun decides to take the day off and have some fun, he gets a little more action than he bargained for. A mix up with the Farmer, a caravan and a very steep hill lead them all to the Big City and it’s up to Shaun and the flock to return everyone safely to the green grass of home.

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Shaun the Sheep Movie doesn’t take itself too seriously.  The entire plot plays with the notion that animals aren’t that different from humans and given a chance maybe they, too, would like to lounge around the house and watch television.     It was funny and cute.  Even though it was a kid’s show and a comedy at that, the characters were emotionally believable and highly sympathetic.

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Shaun the Sheep doesn’t hesitate to employ whatever plot device suits it (counting sheep makes you sleepy, say)  and I know I’ve criticized movies for doing exactly this but there is a distinction:  it doesn’t rely on these tricks to make its point, they are throwaway gags.  It doesn’t use clichés as the main driver of character motivation (or worse, the main direction of the plot) like some movies I could name.

This movie is beautiful to watch.  That sentence in itself doesn’t mean much because EVERY movie should be beautiful to watch; that’s the point of the big screen, after all.  But I mention it here because when you watch it and remember that this is all Claymation, done frame-by-frame, the level of detail is staggering.  What a difference good design makes.  Every scene is rich with colour and movement, the sets are complex.   Nothing is left to chance, everything the eye is drawn to comes back later and aids the plot.
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This is a movie about belonging.  Where do you belong, and with whom?  What does it mean if you haven’t found a place to belong?  What the place you belong is boring or seems to lack a higher purpose?  It’s a worthy question and is treated well.   Though it’s not a life-changing lesson (yes it’s Movie Chinese Food), it is still well worth watching.

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