1:30 PM, 27th May, 2001
This is the first feature film from the British house of clay animation, Aardman Studios. Best known for the amazingly quaint "Wallace and Gromit" cartoons, this lacks the warmth and character of previous efforts. Predictable, charming, and funny, but never boring, it's set in a British Chicken farm, where escape is the primary objective. Mel Gibson plays a visiting American rooster who aims to help the imprisoned chickens, whilst the human farmers, facing decreasing profits from egg-industry deregulation, are forced to diversify into pie-making, with a murderous chicken-culling pie-making machine. While the characters in the "Wallace and Gromit" shorts were multi-dimensional, with Gromit (aka Silent Dog), reading newspapers and constantly saving his master, the Chicken Run characters are flat and boring. The only interesting characters come from two cockney pack rats, who somehow reminds me of Arthur from the TV show "Minder". Charming and equally satisfying for kids and adults alike.
3:04 PM, 27th May, 2001
An enjoyable mess, but a mess. Is it a musical, or isn't it? There are five Elton John songs that sound as though they fell into the film by accident and nobody had the courage to pull them out. Here's the story: two minor con men from, I suppose, Spain, voiced by Kevin Kline and Kenneth Branagh, while running away from one thing and another, find themselves in South America and stumble across the City of Gold, where they are mistaken for gods. There are a couple of villains and some stuff happens. There are comedy, fantasy, tragedy, and a love story; a pity that each of these elements undermines at least two of the others. If you're an admirer of fine character animation, as I am, you might as well ignore all my previous sniping remarks. Check out Chel. Ah, Chel! She was animated by James Baxter, whose last female character was Belle in Beauty and the Beast. I'm sure there'll be plenty of websites devoted to her.