on 15 March 2015
CHICKEN RUN  [Blu-ray] [French Import] From the Creators of Wallace and Gromit! The Cinema Experience in High Definition! This Ain’t No Chick Flick!
Unlike anything ever seen on the big screen, ‘Chicken Run'  is that year's most original comedy hailed by critics and audiences alike as "magical entertainment for all ages!" While the chickens on evil Mrs. Tweedy's farm dream of a better life, a clever hen named Ginger is hatching plans to fly the coop for good! The only problem is, chickens can't fly - or can they? Every escape attempt goes fowl until Rocky, a smooth-talking all-American rooster, who crash-lands into the coop. It's hardly poultry in motion when Rocky attempts to teach Ginger and her fine feathered friends to fly...but, with teamwork, determination and a little bit o' cluck, the fearless flock plots one last daring attempt in a spectacular bid for freedom! Featuring unforgettable characters, incredible animation, and all-star voice talent, this instant classic from the Academy Award® winning creators of “Wallace and Gromit” and is eggs-traordinary fun for the whole family!
FILM FACT: Awards and Nominations: Won: Broadcast Film Critics for Best Animated Feature. Won: Dallas Fort Worth Film Critics for Best Animated Feature. Won: Los Angeles Film Critics for Best Animated Feature. Won: New York Film Critics for Best Animated Feature. Nominated: BAFTA Awards for Best British Film and Best Visual Effects. Nominated: Empire Awards for Best British Director Nick Park and Peter Lord, Best British Film and Best Debut for Nick Park and Peter Lord. Nominated: European Film Awards for Best Film.
Voice Cast: Julia Sawalha, Mel Gibson, Miranda Richardson, Tony Haygarth, Benjamin Whitrow, Timothy Spall, Phil Daniels, Jane Horrocks, Imelda Staunton, Lynn Ferguson, John Sharian, Jo Allen, Lisa Kay, Laura Strachan
Directors: Nick Park and Peter Lord
Producers: Nick Park, Peter Lord, David Sproxton and Jeffrey Katzenberg
Screenplay: Nick Park, Peter Lord Karey (original story) and Kirkpatrick (screenplay)
Composer: Harry Gregson-Williams and John Powell
Cinematography: Dave Alex Riddett, Frank Passingham and Tristan Oliver
Video Resolution: 1080p
Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
Audio: French: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and English: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
Running Time: 85 minutes
Region: All Regions
Number of discs: 1
Studio: DreamWorks Pictures / Aardman Animations
Andrew's Blu-ray Review: This is a film for both children and adults. ‘Chicken Run’  is a film that will easily be understood by all who watch it and it is a film by the same creators of "Wallace and Gromitt," and equally entertaining. ‘Chicken Run’ not only proves that Aardman Animations can deliver a full-length feature film with panache; and it offers genuinely superb entertainment as well.
Known to millions across the globe as the creator of the characters Wallace and Gromit, where a British inventor Wallace, with a penchant for inventing devices, especially in collaboration with his smart companion dog Gromit, Nick Park can no longer live in the obscurity he once enjoyed. It has been half-a-decade since the last Wallace and Gromit short reached audiences, and Nick Park has been quiet since then. The reason can be summed up in two words: ‘Chicken Run.’ An ambitious, full-length motion picture employing Nick Park's signature "Claymation" style, albeit without Wallace or Gromit. ‘Chicken Run’ represents an attempt by Nick Park to break free of his status as a cult figure and move into the mainstream. To that end, he has recruited some instantly recognisable voices, such as Miranda Richardson and Mel Gibson, and to voice his characters, Nick Park and Peter Lord struck a distribution deal with DreamWorks Pictures.
But life is tough if you're a chicken. It's especially tough if you're one of the chickens incarcerated in Mr. and Mrs. Tweedy run a failing Chicken Farm in a grim Yorkshire institution. run in the style of a Second World War POW camp, where the chicken fowls in question are lined up each morning for a military-style inspection. There's no apparent-pleasing sanitisation going on here: a few minutes into the film, one unlucky hen is being decapitated after falling behind in the laying stakes. The scene is made all the scarier for being depicted solely via suggestive shadow and a nasty chopping sound.
Things take an even darker turn, when the fearsome Mrs. Tweedy [Miranda Richardson] decides that her eggs aren't bringing in enough cash, and invests in a pie-making machine instead. A fantastically inventive monstrosity of slicing, spinning blades, gravy-spurting pipes and flaming ovens, it prompts one of the hens, the dim-witted Babs [Jane Horrocks] to observe, in one of the film's most-quoted lines: "I don't want to be a pie... I don't like gravy."
It's this balance between danger and wit that makes `Chicken Run,' the first feature-length animation from Wallace and Gromit makers Aardman Animations, such a treat for adults and children alike. The film, which follows Mrs. Tweedy's hens as they make a bid for freedom, is essentially ‘The Great Escape’ with chickens, an engagingly ridiculous tagline, which the animation lives up to with charm and verve.
Julia Sawalha steals the show as Ginger, a plucky heroine, determined not to end up as a plucked heroine. Meanwhile, Mel Gibson is on brilliant form as American intruder and "lone free ranger" Rocky, who crash-lands on the farm with a cry of "freeeeedom," is one of Chicken Run's many, many film references and in-jokes. The distinctive "Claymation" animation is as charming as it was when the animation film came out in 2000.
A naive hen, Babs [Jane Horrocks], who serves as a counterpoint to Ginger's desire to feel the grass under her feet, and two rodents, Fletcher [Phil Daniel] and Nick [Timothy Spall] who have an unusual passion for chicken eggs, make for some sharp and humorous moments, thanks to a clever screenplay by Karey Kirkpatric. There are many film references, including `The Great Escape,' `Stalag 17,' `Indiana Jones,' `Star Trek,' `Mission: Impossible' and many double meanings, which are good for a few thought-provoking laughs.
The very best thing about `Chicken Run,' however, is its exuberant final act, in which Mrs. Tweedy's demented metal beast of a pie machine is contrasted with the chickens' home-made aircraft, inspired by the exploits of ex-RAF mascot rooster Major Fowler [Benjamin Whitrow]. Old-fashioned, British home-spun inventiveness wins out, while the big, bad corporate-style machine collapses in a mad explosion of gravy, in a finale that manages to be beautifully silly and rather clever all at the same time.
The painstaking animation, done by moving clay models in miniscule amounts over time, comes off as a labour of love. The set design is incredible: from the chicken coop to the pie-making machine, Nick Park and Peter Lord (who also co-directs) and transports us to a world that not only goes beyond our reality but also the realm of traditional animation. Like with many other good animations, the voices, most of them British, are what make Chicken Run work so well. Every single voice is executed perfectly. I particularly liked the fact that the strongest character was a female and Julia Sawalha pulls off a Ginger, who deserves respect and admiration. `Chicken Run' is highly endearing, consistently attractive, and incredibly refreshing. While there's not one particular part in the film that had me rolling with laughter, I was constantly amused and at the end, I was filled with euphoria as the credits rolled up the screen.
‘Chicken Run’ is truly an unusual endeavour since, unlike every other animated motion picture reaching screens, its primary aim is not to astound viewers visually. In fact, with its old-fashioned approach to animation, it looks clunky in comparison to some of its competitors. Of course, that's part of ‘Chicken Run' and its charm, but a lot of children will probably will not get the jokes and go right over their heads, whereas the more adult viewers will get the many in jokes. And, since a significant portion of the target audience will not accept a motion picture that doesn't offer start-to-finish action or eye-popping visuals, ‘Chicken Run’ is beginning its theatrical life with a handicap. Hopefully, adults, won over by the smart-yet-uncomplicated script and charming execution, will encourage their offspring to see the film. Children will almost certainly enjoy the animation film if they give it a chance.
At the dawn of the third millennium, animation has become the domain of the United States and Japan, so it's a rare pleasure to see another movie industry enter into the fray. With Chicken Run, Park has taken all that was enjoyable about Wallace & Gromit, brought it into a barnyard, and extended it to feature length. Fans of the previous Aardman Animations shorts, which two have won Academy Awards® and will undoubtedly shower Nick Park and Peter Lord with plaudits for what they have accomplished with this stunning animation film. All that remains is for audiences at large to discover the simple-but-engaging entertainment of ‘Chicken Run.’
Blu-ray Video Quality – I have to admit that it is hard to find an image transfer for an animated film recently that is not reference quality. But with the 1.77:1 anamorphic transfer of `Chicken Run' I can honestly say that this is among one of the best 1080p encoded transfers I have ever seen. There are no moments where the print becomes anything less than jaw-droppingly good. Detail and sharpness are both perfect, as is the use of colour in many of the daylight scenes. The black levels are done well with no grain at all, and there were no instances of shimmering or pixilation. This is one of the best transfers I have ever seen and another great effort by the DreamWorks Pictures and Aardman Animations team.
Blu-ray Audio Quality – With what is becoming a tradition for DreamWorks Pictures and Aardman Animations, `Chicken Run' is presented with both French and English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks. While neither track is especially active, they each get the job done. The first half of the film is primarily dialogue and music driven, with the surrounds kicking in when the pie factory makes it appearance. There isn't a very noticeable difference between the French and English 5.1 DTS-HD surround versions mix and this animation film feature provides a bit more music in between the back surrounds and does a good job at enveloping the viewer. While not a showy mix, these tracks each offer clean and well-defined sound.
Blu-ray Special Features and Extras: When you view all of the extras, the French Subtitles appear automatically. To get rid of them you have to go to the SUBTITLES button on your Blu-ray remote and with the up arrow key button you can set it to off.
Audio Commentary: Commentary with Directors Peter Lord and Nick Park: Directors Peter Lord and Nick Park tell us in great detail why they produced the animation film like they did, especially in homage to the film `The Great Escape.' We also get to hear their love to all "Claymation" characters, and especially the in jokes for the chicken Edwina, which was in honour to the ex-Member of Parliament Edwina Curry [Health Minister], who had to resign from the British Government over the scandal over eggs, provoking outrage by saying most of Britain's egg production is infected with the salmonella bacteria. They also inform us why they chose specific actors to dub the voices for the "Claymation" characters. They also inform us that they had too many ideas for the film, but because of the time limited, they had ditch a lot of the ideas. What is so beautiful about this audio commentary is that the stereo separation is spectacular as each person is exactly in the left and right speakers. A must view audio commentary.
Special Feature Documentary: Fowl Play: The Making of Chicken Run  [1080p] [4:3] [22:43] Here we get to see a very intimate and rare behind-the-scene look at the making of `Chicken Run,' and all involved in this 5 year project to bring this awesome Aardman Animations to the silver screen. Contributing to this beautiful made documentary is directors Peter Lord and Nick Park; Julia Sawalha [Ginger]; Miranda Richardson [Mrs. Tweedy]; Mel Gibson [Rocky]; Jake Eberts [Executive Producer]; Jeffrey Katzenberg [Executive Producer]; Dave Sproxton [Producer]; Jane Horrocks [Babs]; Harry Linden [Production Manager]; Merlin Crossingham [Key Animator]; Guionne Leroy [Key Animator]; Tim Farrington [Art Director]; Lynne Ferguson [Mac]; James Mather [Supervising Sound Editor] and John Powell and Harry Gregson-Williams. Narrated by Timothy Spall.
Special Feature Documentary: The Infernal Pie Machine  [1080p] [4:3] [14:26] Directors Nick Park and Peter Lord talk in great detail on how they produced the animation piece with the Pie Machine for ‘Chicken Run.' They also tell in great intricate detail about how the "Claymation" is made to look so good on the silver screen. On top of all that they give you lots of information on the task before them to produce the animation film, plus you also get lots of clips from `Chicken Run,' especially with infernal pie machine.
Special Feature Documentary: The Secrets of Dubbing the Voice  [1080p] [4:3] [26:58] First off we get to see the actor Gérard Depardieu sitting in the French recording studio telling us about his involvement with dubbing his voice for the animation character "Rocky" with the French Cinema release. Other contributors to the documentary explaining their input into dubbing the animation characters are Josiane Balasko; Valérie; Jean-Marc Panneteir [Artist Director for Dubbing]. [French with no English Subtitles].
Theatrical [Bandes] Announcements:
Theatrical Trailer for `Chicken Run'  [480i] [16:9] [2:16] [French and English Versions].
Theatrical Teaser Trailer for `Chicken Run'  [480i] [16:9] [1:28] [English Versions].
Theatrical Trailer for `Chicken Mission Impossible Run'  [480i] [16:9] [1:23] [English Versions]
Finally, `Chicken Run' is another brilliant classic animation film from the mad geniuses at Aardman Animations, a quick confection fix that's consistently enjoyable and a non-stop treat for the eyes. The Blu-Ray looks great in 2D, but what a shame they could not do a 3D conversion, while the extras are impressive compared to what passes for bonus content on Blu-ray nowadays, and offers something for adults and children alike. Families looking for a fun time for everyone watching will find it here. Distinctly British and extremely wildly imaginative, Nick Park and Peter Lord's animation film is a triumph of solid writing and virtuoso animation. Highly Recommended!
Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom
on 10 August 2015
First full length feature from Aardman studios in Bristol, Nick Park and Peter Lord pulled a wonderful display of claymation and British cinema.
An homage of some sort to Steve MacQueen's The Great Escape, Chicken Run takes the action into a farm down in 1950s England. Mr and Mrs. Tweedy's, an unpleasant couple who directs its chicken egg farm like a military camp. For every day, one egg per chicken. If one or many of them miss their weekly quota, the chop from the mistress and a feed down her tummy and her husband's. A situation so unpleasant that one of them, Ginger, has had enough and will try to do everything to get her mates and her out of this prison. Hatching mass escape attempts that always end up failing due to various circumstances. Losing hope until Rocky, an American Rooster, accidentally flies into their farm. With enough charm to attract the ladies and the talent to fly, his abilities then become the ultimate hope as he teaches them how to fly so that they can escape the Tweedies once and for all.
Now saying more about this movie would ruin its twists and fun. But I can tell you that Chicken Run was, when a kid, my first introduction to Aardman studio's work. And after seeing it, I understood how unlucky I was to have missed Wallace and Gromit on television when it used to pass. Indeed, the script is witty, full of that British irony I love to have a laugh. With even nods to Pop Culture through Military or Flying terms the characters employ, including one from Star Trek that I had quite a giggle. Also, it is a brilliant display of visual technique as the movie's animation quality is fluid and organised as you have tens of chicken working around while the camera travels around and records their progress, which must have been a headache of patience as stop motion is a very on-the-go process. Through the movie, you can see how Aardman really upped the bar for that movie in terms of backgrounds, sets, animations, and lighting effects. Therefore, their movie foreshadows the evolution of their stop motion animation they would pull in "Shaun the Sheep" or "Animal Comforts" on TV or even "Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit".
And after seeing the movie on Blu-Ray, I cannot look back at a former DVD or video tape of that film when the HD image quality surpasses what my eyes used to see. Crisp image and sharp colors, HD is the best way to appreciate Claymation as its textural and manual attributes are more observable and a pleasure for the eyes. Both for viewers and for animation aficionados who might have learned a thing or two about a the craft like I did years ago.
On this Blu-Ray edition that comes from Pathé — which ironically has a Rooster as its emblem — I got to get the French dubbing too and some nice bonus features on the movie's making of and even a commentary with Nick Park and Peter Lord. Though I have to warn American buyers that they do not work on a North American Blu-Ray system. Which is a bummer as that Blu-Ray is Region Free. Nevertheless I hope that Dreamworks or the latest American distributors for that movie as Aardman broke ties with that studio will wake up and release a North American Blu-Ray for that marvellous British film with Imelda Staunton as Bunty, Mel Gibson as Rocky, Julia Sawalha as Ginger, and Miranda Richardson as the cruel Mrs. Tweedy. A fine choice really considering what she did on Sleepy Hollow.
In conclusion, a seventy-nine film that I feel hasn't lost its touch and which deserves all its praises and respect.