The return of Shaun The Sheep to the big screen is a flat out delight – here’s our review.

Whilst the likes of Peppa Pig and Paw Patrol try to fob off family audiences with a few episodes strung together when they head into cinemas, for Aardman and Shaun The Sheep there’s never the slightest doubt that they’re going to put in a shift.

Welcome back then to Mossy Bottom Farm for a really rather ambitious sequel. For Shaun’s second movie, Aardman doesn’t go for a straight follow-up. Rather, it mixes the rural world of Shaun and his chums (and foes) with a science fiction movie. It’s once again dialogue-free (and if you’re looking for truly accessible cinema, then surely the pair of Shaun movies are as universal to everyone as they come), requiring ingenuity with props, grunts and non-verbal communication to move the story along.

And move along it does, at some pace. It’s quickly established that there’s a fresh visitor to Shaun’s world, and not one of this planet. It’s deliberately aiming at a young audience, so this is no scary alien film (quite the opposite). Instead, it’s a witty, affectionate and warm tale of friendship, that just happens to have a farmer trying to make a few quid on the side.

As much as the film is for the very young, Aardman remains expert in offering plenty for the rest of us. In fact, this is a flat-out treat for sci-fi nerds. Early on, you get a fine taste as to what’s in store when a mechanic’s garage goes under the trading name of H G Wheels. That’s the only joke I’ll even hint at spoiling. You do get tips of the hat to all sorts of sci-fi movies, with Close Encounters and E.T. clear inspirations too. The sheer craft of Aardman is fully showcased, and the tactile quality of the stop frame animation work is to be cherished. There’s even the requisite Blue Peter badge on display.

Perhaps this isn’t quite peak Aardman, and I still feel on the big screen that Chicken Run and Curse Of The Were-Rabbit are the very high marks. Yet this is a really lovely treat, and the kind of film not just anybody else could make like this. You won’t find a more accessible film in a cinema all year.

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