Chicken Run on DVD – The DVDfever Review – Mel Gibson

Chicken Run
Chicken Run is the first full-length feature film from Aardman Animations, in a homage – or is that ‘rip off’, to The Great Escape, and sees a whole coop of chickens attempting to escape their confined quarters with disastrous results.

There’s a strict regime down on the chicken farm and if you’re not up to scratch in the egg-producing department, you’re, literally, for the chop, meaning this is probably the only U-certificate film to feature a beheading, even if it is just off-camera.

Led by Ginger (Julia Sawalha), they are helped when Rocky Rhodes the Rhode Island Red Rooster (Mel GibsonDragged Across Concrete) drops in and agrees to assist once they save him from being collected by the circus. Time is of the essence as farm owner Mrs. Tweedy (Miranda Richardson) has bought a Chicken Pie machine, which instantly does the necessary and will boost the farm’s profits considerably.

The celeb cast also features Julia’s AbFab co-star Jane Horrocks as the dim-witted Babs, plus Phil Daniels and Timothy Spall as two wheeler-dealer rats, Fetcher and Nick, respectively.

The film contains many film references, such as Indiana Jones snatching back his hat in Raiders of the Lost Ark – and quips, such as when Ginger has had enough of being caught out when trying to escape, she says, “I was in solitary confinement!”, to which Babs replies, “Well, it’s nice to get a bit of time to yourself.”.

I have no complaints with the picture. Presented in an anamorphic 1.85:1 ratio, artifacts are non-existent and the bold, muddy colours of the chicken far are rendered perfectly. The average bitrate is a brilliant 7.8Mb/s, regularly peaking over 9Mb/s.

There’s a few choice split-surround moments including some escape attempts and the time when Rocky and Ginger find themselves inside an oven. Aside from those, the soundtrack is well-used, but not as often as I expected. The sound is available in both Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1. The Americans beat us here with Dolby Digital 6.1 EX sound and DTS 6.1 ES for the Region 1 DVD.

The extras are as follows and there’s plenty of them, beginning with four trailers – 3 for the film in anamorphic widescreen, including a “Chicken Impossible” trailer and you can guess what that apes, plus one for the computer game. The Aardman archive contains clips from many of Aardman Animations’ features including the Wallace and Gromit trilogy.

The featurette, Chickens go in, pies come out, runs for 15 minutes and concentrates of the pie machine, while Fowl Play: The Making of Chicken Run, takes a look at every aspect of the movie, mixing film clips with cast and crew interviews. The DVD-ROM material included has scores more background information about the film and even gives you a chance to play director by moving clips around on your PC to suit yourself.

Finally, we are graced with a feature-length Directors’ Commentary and an Audio Descriptive track that also runs for the entire length and is narrated by Only Fools and HorsesGwyneth Strong.

There are 24 chapters over the 81 minute film which is excellent and the subtitles are in English for the hard of hearing. All the menus have animation and music within.

The animation is first rate, although the whole is a bit less than the sum of its parts due to moments where the film slows down the pace. It’s still enjoyable fun for the whole family and Pathe have done a superb job with all the extras.

Chicken Run is out now on Blu-ray, Amazon Video and DVD.

Chicken Run – Theatrical Trailer


Detailed specs:

Running time: 81 minutes
Studio: Pathe
Year: 2000
Released: December 4th 2000 P8990DVD
Region(s): 2, PAL
Chapters: 24
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1
Languages: English
Subtitles: English SDH
Widescreen: 1.85:1
16:9-Enhanced: Yes
Macrovision: Yes
Disc Format: DVD9

Directors: Peter Lord, Nick Park
Producers: David Sproxton, Peter Lord, Nick Park
Screenplay: Karey Kirkpatrick
Story: Peter Lord, Nick Park
Music: Harry Gregson-Williams, John Powell

Rocky Rhodes the Rhode Island Red Rooster: Mel Gibson
Ginger: Julia Sawalha
Babs: Jane Horrocks
Fetcher the Rat: Phil Daniels
Nick the Rat: Timothy Spall
Mac: Lynn Ferguson
Mr. Tweedy: Tony Haygarth
Mrs. Tweedy: Miranda Richardson
Bunty: Imelda Staunton
Fowler: Benjamin Whitrow
Circus Man: John Sharian
Chickens: Jo Harvey Allen, Lisa Kay, Laura Strachan