One of the advantages of
Blu-ray is that, given the right equipment, it offers a greater opportunity to
enjoy minute details lost on formats with limited clarity. This is a particular
advantage when watching stop-motion animation, where virtually every square
inch is handcrafted. In that respect, the new Shaun the Sheep Movie blu-ray delivers (check out the busy city highway
scenes), and so does the home video release, at least with respect to the high
quality of the visuals and audio. Not so much on other ways.
This is a film that manages
to expand a series of coy, wry shorts into a full-length feature—and without
the use of dialogue. Like many classic British live action comedies, Mr. Bean
the most recently well known (but Ronnie Corbett, Ronnie Barker and Marty
Feldman also come to mind), there is voice acting, but all in the form of mumbled
One of the hurdles necessary
to carry this off is to make the characters as expressive as possible, which
Aardman usually does very well. The characters look funny before they even
begin to move. Another hurdle is avoiding losing the audience by presenting a
series of sketches and set pieces without a sufficient through line. Shaun the Sheep Movie is episodic, but
the plot lines intersect effectively. And if we were in a college film study
class, several class discussions could easily be sparked by the analogy of pop
trends and the sometimes sheep-like way humans follow them—while the “real”
sheep are the mavericks.
Where the Blu-ray and DVD of
Shaun the Sheep Movie disappoint is
in regard to the sparse bonus features. For all the reasons above, a proper
audio commentary would have been a fairly inexpensive addition. One could have
used a smart phone to shoot some behind-the-scenes footage for a nice little
documentary. Instead, there are a handful of sound bites from the filmmakers,
constructed in a way that suggests that they are repurposed interstitials.
Surely if asked, Shaun would
have grabbed his phone and edited something on iMovie.