Chicken Run (2000)
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As the movie develops the viewer understands more and more the hope emotions of these clay chickens attempting to alter their way of life to one that is free of the oppressive regime given to them. With the addition of the American Hero, Rocky we start to see the propagandist type of actions in this film. While the American Hero ideal is disproved the character is still shown to have heart and the ability to save the people demonstrating a satirical view of American ideals and values but still showing how they are able to help others and move past themselves when it is most valuable to others.
On the happier side of this story the characters are unique and fleshed out giving an interesting perspective into each character and how oppression affects the mind. For some people they can't understand how other humans or sentient beings in this case can be so negative and mentally either deny or snap as in the case of the propetuarilly knitting character, Babs. In others it instills the want to escape and take leadership of the rag tag groups of individuals that are all stuck together in this position to attempt to encourage both themselves from the depressing normal fate of this type of society. Some just take what they are given and decide this is what life is meant to be and that they are there for a reason and shouldn't bother to escape or go against their masters. Finally there are those that utilize fear and hope to manipulate others for personal gain as the rats and Rocky initially does. Overall the characters generate an interesting cast filled with psychologically unique and accurate characters while maintaining a humours facade of jokes and non human violence that allows this movie to be able to be enjoyed by both adults and children on different levels of analysis.
In addition to the contents of this movie it was shot extremely well and the attention to detail in this piece drew one in to be able to enjoy this movie. As a story it fulfilled the classic paradigm of a very clear antagonist and protagonist highlighted by color schemes and camera angle to portray these clay creations as realistic and either positive or negative beings. In addition to character development and placement each sequence was filled with motion and thought as the chickens altered from dynamic beings filled with personality to average chickens in an attempt to deceive their masters.
Overall I enjoyed this movie immensely, it gave many possibilities for analysis and for simple enjoyment. As a movie I found that it fulfilled my want to enjoy a nice movie and laugh at the antics of these chickens and the failing plans of the dominating villains but also be able to see into the world if them and enjoy the thought provoking story of people attempting to hide the secrets of their escape from their dominating masters in a analogy to nazism. This paradigm allows for many different consumers to enjoy this movie.
The movie starts with making the main conflict clear: the chickens want to escape; the farmers don't want them to escape. From the beginning, the protagonist and antagonist are established. As the film progresses, so does the tension and the complexity of the situation. A deuteragonist is established, the goals of the farmers change, etcetera. It all ends up building to the climax of the film, where they have to make their great escape.
Ginger is the protagonist; she is easily the most competent chicken and she's the one with the most determination to escape. She is selfless and wants freedom as much for the rest of the chickens as she does for herself.
Rocky is a deuteragonist with both protagonist and antagonist qualities - for the majority of the film he is trying to help the chickens on a face level, but in actuality he's lying about all of his accomplishments. Even though he could have escaped anytime he wanted, he didn't until the night before he would have been shown to the rest of the chickens as a phony. This shows that he liked the praise and feeling like he was helping, even if it was all a lie. By the end, he shows that his heart is in the right place by coming back and saving the day.
Mr. and Ms. Tweedy are the antagonists, with Ms. Tweedy playing as the main antagonist and Mr. Tweedy playing as a dumb sidekick. They try and build a machine to make chicken pies, which backfires on them greatly.
The editing in Chicken Run is very well done. The edits are seamless and there are many different perspectives and angles that all serve good purposes. Like most good editing goes, it's great because it keeps your attention focused by using various subtle techniques.
The script is well written. It blends humor with drama and adventure, and makes a prison break movie starring clay chickens something that's fun to invest your attention into. There is hilarity all throughout the film, whether it be the relationship between Ginger and Rocky, the relationship between Mr. and Ms. Tweedy, the entire existence of Babs, the visual references (Babs knitting a noose comes to mind), or the climax of the film, Chicken Run will keep you laughing throughout. Additionally, as the movie progresses you become legitimately attached to the characters. I found myself rooting for the main characters in this Claymation chicken film more than I have in many 'standard' movies.
With visual gags, solid humor, great editing and a wonderful Claymation art style, Chicken Run is overall a wonderful film. It does a great job at making the story clear and making the movie easy to follow, and it does an even better job of pulling the viewer in and making them interested in the story and the outcome. The Claymation is very well done, and they did a great job of making scenes that are very difficult to pull off look seamless and natural. Furthermore, they also did a great job of making the main characters noticeable from the rest of the chickens. Ginger wears a beanie, Rocky is a rooster, Babs has a unique hairstyle and is always knitting, etcetera. One could argue that it is a simple film, but I would say that it's not so easy to make a simple movie something truly enjoyable to watch. Chicken Run accomplished this and more, making a movie that is 90 minutes of pure fun.
Despite its many traditional qualities, this movie is still a good watch. Many unorthodox occurrences draw in viewers attention as the scape attempts grow stranger with each attempt. Another interesting aspect to this movie was the overarching use of classical cutting. This technique took what could've been a very underwhelming film and turned it into a suspenseful family-friendly drama. Numerous instance in the movie display this concept, and in each case, suspense and tension is added to augment the viewers experience. For example, in the very beginning of the movie Ginger, the main character is escaping from the farm. While digging under the fence, in an attempt to provide an escape route for her and her fellow chickens, Mr. Tweedy discovered her. The other chickens scurry back to their pens while Ginger is stuck outside the fence. Immediately after she was spotted, the chase was on. With Mr. Tweedy and his two dogs in hot pursuit the film switches between Ginger's point of view and Mr. Tweedy's. This technique increases the suspense of what otherwise would've been a simple chasing scene. It is the uses of concepts such as this that add to film in ways to augment the viewers experience.
Another interesting facet of this movie is its inter-genre story line. Incorporating pieces from numerous genres allows for a larger audience pool. Mainly utilizing features of comedic and dramatic films, Chicken Run plot uses somewhat comedic concepts to attract the attention of consumers. The wackier the concept, the closer attention will be payed to that scene. As the escape attempts increase in their uniqueness, the tension in watching film builds as viewers eagerly await to see if the attempt succeeds for fails in some extreme manor. In almost all the cases, the attempts would some how fail and result in something comedic rather it was Ginger being placed in solitary confinement again or another chicken falling victim to the growing anger of Mr. and Mrs. Tweedy. The endless suspense adds to the quality of the more making it a very interesting film to view. This property of the may not be a result of specific filming techniques, but I believe it adds to the overall make up of the movie and why it has been successful at the box office.
Perhaps my favorite part of this movie is not any one technique used to augment viewer's experiences, but rather the idea behind the movie. Taking such a simple complex and constructing such a complex movie with many twists and turns requires a lot of talent. As the plot progresses, the wackiness of the movie seems to increase. Starting with simple escape attempt ideas slowly but surely build into a one of a kind homemade flying contraption. Not only is the main idea of the movie strange, a group of chickens wishing to escape the grasp of ruthless farm owners, but each little part of the story adds to its very unique story line. With endless creativity this Claymation has become one of my favorites.
While I could see it being argued that the opening montages are supposed to just instill in us the great idea of hope that they all have. However the way the depict the entire setting shows me that we are to believe that hope is futile and escape is impossible. The very opening shot shows us a very literal prison camp. Anyone who did not know what they were going to watch would be surprised to find out that the grounds with barbed wire, rows of cabins, and a guard with terrifying dogs under the moonlight is actually just a chicken farm, and this lends to the comedic effect in a way but more importantly leaves you with a clear message: leaving is impossible. This gets enforced by the very entertaining montage of escape attempts that follow. The clever use of comedy to distract from the underlying hopelessness the characters face is masterfully done. The best part comes at the end of the first montage when the comedy fades. Suddenly nothing is funny, and a friend of theirs dies as is normal around there. Nothing has changed. For a moment there just isn't something funny to distract you from the gravity of the situation and it is very masterfully done.
The introduction of the character Rocky is both one of my favorite and least favorite moments of the movie. His arrival and the belief of the other chickens that he can fly leads the characters to have hope that as an audience we know is pointless. The chickens believe their situation has changed entirely, but we as an audience know that chickens can't fly and that they have false hope. This works to enforce the previously established message: Escape is impossible. But more importantly it raises tensions. As an audience it is in our nature to root for the protagonist so it causes a kind of stress to work towards something they won't achieve for such a long portion of the movie especially with an approaching deadline of sorts. we are left wondering "How will they escape?" because we desperately want to believe that they can and will escape. This build in tension is wonderful and effective, but is also slow taking roughly half the time of the movie in total. When it reaches its peak during Ginger and Rocky's escape scene within the pie machine we are left in a rift of sorts. With Rocky having left the next morning and all the chickens fighting we are feeling the same hopelessness as Ginger in that moment where we question if they can actually escape. And then my favorite part of the film is the race that follows. After all the previous tension built and was released we are now faced with this race against the clock. It has the same effect as the previous tension building section but occuring in a third of the time. And more importantly unlike the beginning of the film most of this new plan of the chickens being carried out occurred in sunlight filling the scene with bright colors and hope drawing on the power of mise-en-scène to affect how we perceive the events. And of course from there the film follows the usual steps of any classical story with a climax, etc.
Now I mentioned that Rocky's appearance in the film also highlighted my least favorite aspect of the film, and that aspect is an out of place romance. The character of Rocky is a typical masculine roll in charge, aloof, and confident. He is also uncomfortable with how assertive and in charge Ginger prefers to be. This is an archaic trope for films to have an in charge female character who will be "Tamed" and/or "put in her place" by a man and somehow that is romance. I won't fault Chicken Run for including the specific trope it is nearly twenty years old now however having a romance in general feels like a mistake. It was out of place with all the other themes. Missing the necessary elements to be a romantic comedy which requires the focus of the film to be on the two romanticized characters. It also seems contrary with the characterization and actions of the character himself. Rocky having done a lot of wrong and a little right came far from redeeming himself completely, and it all ended with a romance that felt wedged in between other great movie elements.
Overall Chicken Run is a wonderfully hilarious comedy borrowing elements from other serious movies like any other comedy but comes with unique ability to apply them effectively but is still not free from the film pitfall that all movies must contain the elements of a heteronormative romance.
This movie was great for all ages, although it may be meant for younger children, anyone is able to enjoy the family-friendly movie. It really captivates the audience with its diverse genre category. It keeps things light with a lot of comedic scenes to overlook the darker plot of chickens being murdered. There were a handful of times I caught myself chuckling at the various scenes showing you do not need to be young to laugh at this movie. When Rocky arrives into the movie there is an obvious love story brewing between him and Babs, the main chicken behind all the schemes. This drama aspect of the film really gets the viewers to connect with the characters and feel for them. It creates a bond that really captures you into the movie. Lastly, their action-packed escape from the farmers and the death machine has viewers gripping their seats, wondering what is going to happen.
Throughout this movie the writers do a great job building suspense and keeping the viewer on edge. There are two main areas that demonstrate this well. The first being when Babs and Rocky get stuck in the pie making machine. Rocky sees Babs hanging upside down with her feet chained to a conveyor belt on the wall. He runs after her to try and catch her before she falls into a large metal tube that leads into the machine. The slow chase builds suspense in the viewers. Left and right they get so close to death, yet they somehow escape, each time by just a hair. Secondly, when they are in the middle of their final escape, Mrs. Tweedy is hanging on to a string of lights that got loose trying to take off. Babs is trying to cut the lights, so she falls but Mrs. Tweedy pulls out an axe and tries to chop her head off. After she swings we see just a chicken body holding on, giving the impression that she was dead, but she ducked just in time. The writers used this fight to build suspense and give us the false impression that the main character had just been killed.
This movie also uses a lot of classic editing styles. To start off they used the Three-Part POV shot inspired by Hitchcock many times when Mr. Tweedy would be spying on the chickens with his binoculars. We would see Mr. Tweedy in the window looking at the chickens, then we would view into the binoculars and see the chickens trying to fly, then it would zoom out and Mr. Tweedy would react with astonishment and check again. This time, he would just find them doing regular chicken-like activities. Another editing style they used which is used in many modern films is classical cutting. Many times, they would show characters walking out of frame and instead of following them it would just cut to another frame that they are just beginning to walk into as if it was just continuous the entire time.
Some plot points are fairly obvious to older viewers (Rocky can't fly) or unoriginal (Rocky's decision to return); however they provide clues that younger viewers will delight to find on their inevitable re-watches. The Hen House transforming into a plane, meanwhile, is a surprise I doubt many saw coming. Looking back, clues were provided - no view of the project during the construction montage but walls of the house - but the cinematography setup the surprise very well, showing construction without raising suspicion of what was being constructed.
The film accomplishes something very unique in terms of suspense. Younger audiences will realize the characters are risking death, and will be riveted. In most films targeted towards children, suspense will decrease as the viewing age increases. However, in Chicken Run, the older audiences realize just how gruesome the danger is. Suspense in Chicken Run, as a result, does not decrease with age. I found myself just as terrified at the pie machine as I was when much younger. As a child, death was constant - being trapped in the oven, falling into the blades, being crushed by the roller - all ended in the same result. As an adult, Roasting to death, being drawn into a woodchipper, and being trapped as a steam-roller draws nearer are all as if not more terrifying. Mrs. Tweedy being trapped in the gravy tank as the gravy level rose was particularly fear-inducing. In terms of suspense, Chicken Run provides something for all age levels. The small details presented in the film are what takes Chicken Run from a simple story to a beautiful piece of art. Most obviously are the numerous references to The Great Escape. Less obviously are little things, like the drive shaft of the delivery truck that brings the pie machine. Placing the camera on the ground pointed upwards to show the rotating parts underneath is an unnecessary item that helps keep the already engaging stop motion even more visually attractive. The two black market rats are named Nick and Fetcher respectively. "Nick" in british english means to steal, and "Fetcher" means ones who procures. The rats do exactly that, stealing items from the Tweedy's household to sell. Nick's character wears a suit jacket that zips up, with the zipper displayed prominently on the front. At first glance, it looks exactly like a tie. Inside the barn, an incredible amount of detail work went into the backgrounds and the pie making machine. Shovels lean against the walls, tools hang from boards, work benches accumulate dust. Gears and pipes span left and right, Metal supports have holes in them exactly as a real structure would. Chicken Run's small details make it a visual masterpiece, with every scene hiding something to look for. If the suspense and plot don't satisfy, watching for the hidden gems in the set certainly will.
What's well contrasted about the chicken coup is that it also feels like a prison, creating a sense of terror and suspense for the chickens. Adding on to a well layered story, the jokes are very witty and add some spunk and charm to the characters. However, the film is also not afraid of getting dark, as whenever the farmers are near the chickens, you can only pray that those hens will get out of there alive. The attempts at sentimentality hit very well as we feel for the main hen Ginger and her goal to leave her horrid life and to get out and find a new home, something that many people stuck in horrible lives wish to fulfill.
Most if not all the characters are just delightful. Ginger is the smartest of all the chickens, is always thinking up each plan, and while she does have her disagreements with Rocky the rooster, they do grow more fond of each other and it's very sweet whenever they bond. Speaking of Rocky, while his arch is the typical liar revealed story line you'd find in other films, he does grow a soft side for the hens and his snarky attitude only fits in to how charming he is. As for the other hens, they range from amusing and smart witted like Gabs and Mac to more stubborn like Bunty and Fowler, but that fits in to the contrasting views of what they can do to escape. Oh yeah, and the rats Nick and Fletcher are madly amusing and do help the chickens out, so they're good in my book.
And then there's Mrs. Tweedy, the co-owner of the chicken farm and wife of the absent-minded albeit occasionally demanding Mr. Tweedy. She is so threatening from her appearance that whenever she's on screen, she gives me goosebumps. Add on her ferocious dogs and you've got a villain who will stop at nothing to get what she wants, and in this case, to turn all her chickens into pies to gain higher salaries...seriously, don't mess with Tweedy.
Technical wise, this movie is marvelous. The sets look well detailed, the characters are in the usual simple yet amusing Aardman style, the effects are superb, and the flying scenes are just...stellar. Even though this was Aardman's first feature film, they went all out in crafting a great setting for where the film's core is, and they never hold back in giving the characters such unique and layered body expressions. Oh, and the gravy machine....pure masterpiece.
And last but certainly not least, the music score. Harry-Gregson Williams and John Powell tangle with an upbeat lively score and a more suspenseful heist score that really add to the tension of each scene.
There are many solid works in England when it comes to animation, and Chicken Run is no exception. While the liar revealed story and the occasional dodgy character play afloat, the film's solid animation, lovable cast of characters, well layered story, and charming score really make it a solid flick worth watching. If you have a kid of your own, pass this film on to them, and maybe then they'll have a favorite of theirs from their childhood that they'll stay forever attached to.
Plot In A Paragraph: Set in Yorkshire, England in 1950's. A bunch of chickens are facing certain death on the Tweedy's Chicken Farm. They constantly try to escape, but always fail. When an American Rooster named Rocky (Gibson) falls into their farm, they are given new hope.
This movie seems to have been forgot about over the years, but these days I'd rather watch something original like this, than sit through endless car chases and shoot outs held together by a dim witted plot in another Fast & Furious movie.
I really like this movie, it is funny, clever, sweet, tender and touching. It's not just about hitting a few plot points to get to the big escape!! It surprisingly has a decent amount of character development, and at the end I knew if had a good time.
Chicken Run was another $100 million grosser for Gibson, as it ended the year with $106 million at the domestic box office to finish the year as the 20th highest grossing movie of 2000.
The story is about a bunch of chickens hoping to escape from a chicken farm and the American rooster that comes by and helps them. It doesn't sound like much on paper - your typical kid's production in fact - but in terms of execution this is a piece of visual excellence. I particularly loved all of the references to WW2 prisoner of war films, most notably THE GREAT ESCAPE, which alone kept me watching.
The story isn't too kiddified and some of the jokes are pleasingly mature. There's a little too much random slapstick but the American influence is low and the film has a strong British feel and sense of humour. The cast members acquit themselves very well with the material, and even shoehorned-in Mel Gibson is a fine choice for the lead. In the end, Nick Park's tireless work pays off here, and the result is that rarity: a modern-day children's film I can enjoy time and again.
An almost all English cast worked well for the movie with the only American being Mel Gibson, playing Rocky the Rooster. This created the opportunity for the chickens to look up to the Rooster as some sort of celebrity, a foreigner who was like something they had never seen before.
There are many references to great British movies through the film, some of which I picked up on and others which I have read of since watching it. Chicken Run does have a strong British feel to it, however I can't help but feel that just the inclusion of one American character made it feel a little too American. Mel Gibson stood out like a sore thumb, now I'm not saying he didn't fit the part and play a vital role, I just think that some of the jokes and amateur dramatics would have been better suited to the movie if they were a little less Americanized.
On the most part the comedy is fresh and I found myself laughing on several occasions. It's a feel good flick; it's as simple as that. Its relatively predictable and plays out containing all the clichés you would expect from a movie of this genre.
Overall, It isn't a perfect movie and I don't feel it contains any real wow factor and it misses the mark on any real emotion in my opinion. However the casting is done well enough, the jokes hit the mark on the most part, the animation is impressive when you consider the effort it must have taken to produce it and it is a decent way to pass the time on a rainy Sunday Afternoon, as I did.
What makes this movie special that it is stop motion. Stop Motion Animation is hardly use these days and it is very good to see a full motion picture with stop motion.
The stop motion is very well done and you can see in this film that they took the time to detail every motion of the characters and the sets help make it convincing that is what I like the best about the film is the stop motion it deserves a lot of respect for how the animation was done.
The music in the film tells the story pretty well for each scene.
The writing in this film does have pretty well and some good reference to famous films and Television shows which is another winner because the writers made each reference work.
The voice acting is very well done as well with a cast you never thought would do animation films but they did.
The only downside to the film is that some characters will leave you scratching your head and some of the writing can be out there.
But overall Chicken Run is a fun film for the whole family and shouldn't be miss
I give Chicken Run an 7 out of 10
Taking a page from "Braveheart", Nick Park weaves a tale of chickens who long to be free. There is even mention of "free range", though this term might be an anachronism. Either way, it is the similar style we have come to expect from the man, now with chickens. For many people, this might be awesome. Personally, I am not a huge fan of the style.
More interestingly, is how the film changed the Academy Awards. Allegedly, there was push to get this film a Best Picture nomination (which seems unlikely), and that push failed. But the Academy recognized the growing number of animated films and opened the door for them to have their own category. This has completely changed the way we look at animation each year.
All of the elements are there, treated with a tongue-in-cheek reverence that makes the film a memorable experience. Ginger (voiced by Julia Sawalha) is the lead chicken, desperately trying to devise escape plans from the farm policed by Mr. Tweedy (Tony Haygarth) and his shrewish spouse (Miranda Richardson). The need to escape is paramount; all the chickens have to hope for instead is a life dedicated to laying eggs and a violent death by strangulation, as the Tweedies cook yet another tasty Sunday dinner. The only problem is that Ginger's task is hampered by the well-meaning yet rather clueless inmates, led by Babs (Jane Horrocks) and Mac (Lynn Ferguson). The entire group are 'supervised' (?) by the Brigadier Fowler (Benjamin Whitrow), using the kind of Fifties Received Pronunciation accent that immediately recalls the war films of that period.
Enter Rocky the Rooster (Mel Gibson), a self-assured refugee from the circus, with a cockiness (pun intended) recalling Steve McQueen in THE GREAT ESCAPE. Although eventually helping to create a successful escape, Rocky has to learn how to co-exist with a group of Brits, that requires both races to become more accommodating, and less xenophobic. The script allows for some jokes familiar to viewers acquainted with World War II history (all Americans are "overpaid, oversexed, and over here."
Although only just over eighty minutes long, the film is packed with incident as well as some really funny jokes. CHICKEN RUN is a joyous experience, a tribute both to the talents of animators and script-writers alike.
This kind of real gesture is on display all through 'Chicken Run' a delightful animated feature debut from the creator of Wallace & Gromit. He has created a film that works on a level that never seems written specifically for six-year-olds. The characters are chickens, yes, but underneath they are as smart as we are.
The story: The chickens of Tweedy's farm are in a desperate state. Their cruel owner demands results and when one chicken doesn't fill her quota of egg production, its the chopping block. To further the example of the dilemma our heroes face, we hear the whack of the ax and later see a plate of chicken bones on the kitchen table.
A hen named Ginger (voiced by Julia Sawalha of 'Absolutely Fabulous') tries plan after plan to escape. She has tried tunnels, digging and a catapult all to no avail. Every time she gets close, Mr. Tweedy catches her and throws her in the box. If this sounds a bit reminiscent of 'The Great Escape', the movie has more up its sleeve. And yes she does have a moment at which she bounces the ball (or in this case cabbage) off the wall of the box.
Ginger begins to realize that time is of the essence when Mrs. Tweedy turns from egg production to the more profitable business of making chicken pies.
A blessing falls from the sky in the form of Rocky the Flying Chicken (no smiles please). He comes sailing out of the sky bellowing 'FREEDOM!' and if you know Mel Gibson's movies you'll understand that. Rocky has just escaped from the circus and Ginger thinks that he may know how to help fly over the fence.
Nick Park and Peter Lord are professionals at Claymation. Park made Wallace and Gromit and the delightful 'Creature Comforts'. Lord made 'Adam' (you can smile at that one). They have not only managed to create great expressive eyes but give them large expressive mouths with rows of bold white teeth. The clever dialogue by screenwriter Karey Kirkpatrick (who wrote "James and the Giant Peach") is no shock to anyone familiar with Park's past work. They speak, as people would, not in tired old clichés and catchphrases.
In place of tired catchphrases we get clever homages to 'Braveheart', 'Indiana Jones', 'Sweeny Todd', 'Star Trek', 'Stalag 17' and the aforementioned 'The Great Escape'. The characters in 'Chicken Run' aren't all the same character multiplied. We get: a ruffled old veteran, a dim-bulb constantly knitting, a pair of swindling rats and a Scottish hen. That Scottish hen gets two of the movie's best homages to Star Trek. The first line 'Captain she can't take anymore' we expect. The second we don't expect and I wouldn't dream of spoiling it.
'Chicken Run' reminded me a lot of 'Antz', that great forgotten computer animated feature from two years ago. Both use state of the art animation to tell stories about characters that aren't lead around by their fast food tie-ins. These are films about perseverance and teamwork and contain characters that open their mouths and actually have something worthwhile to say.
NOTE: PLEASE STAY THROUGH THE CLOSING CREDITS!!!
I was able to bust-a-gut laughing at times during this movie - other times the movie felt like a good animated drama playing out on the screen. It does have an air of suspense and mystery about it so it's not your typical animated comedy.
This film is definitely worth watching if you liked flicks like 'Madagascar', 'Monsters, Inc.' or 'Antz' 9/10