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Site created 12/15/97.

review added: 12/12/00

Chicken Run
2000 (2000) - DreamWorks

review by Todd Doogan of The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

Chicken Run Film Rating: A

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A+/A+/A

Specs and Features

84 mins, G, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1) 16x9 enhanced, single-sided, dual-layered (no layer switch), audio commentary with co-directors Nick Park and Peter Lord, The Hatching of Chicken Run featurette, "panic buttons", Poultry In Motion: The Making of Chicken Run featurette, read-along, 12 Easter Eggs, production notes, cast and crew information, 2 theatrical trailers, TV spot, Shrek trailer preview, DVD-ROM features (including games, screen savers, poster art and previews), animated film-themed menu screens with sound and music, scene access (24 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1 & 2.0 & DTS 5.1 ES), subtitles: Spanish, Closed Captioned

"No chicken escapes Tweedy's farm!"

Tucked away between a rock and a hard place, sitting on a cold parcel of land in the English countryside, is a place so barren that no animal could ever exit alive. That place is Tweedy's Farm - home to a group of freedom fighting hens that dream of beating the odds stacked against them. Everyday is spent the same, systematically pumping out egg after egg for the evil overlords of the farm, Mr. and Mrs. Tweedy. But through the loose boards of the hen house and out behind the chicken wire lies a world unexplored by the chickens. It's wide-open free range and it's calling out to them. And they can't get to it... no matter how hard they try. But one chicken keeps trying harder than any of them combined. Her name is Ginger, and this is her story.

Things seems all but lost for Ginger after her 600th attempt to break free of the wire that binds. But then, out of the sky, comes hope in the shape of a "flying" rooster named Rocky. He says he can help them. After all, he can fly, right? Well... maybe he can and maybe he can't. That's the fun part of the story. You see, while falling from the sky, Rocky broke his wing. And while he's on the mend, he'll run the girls through all sorts of exercises getting them ready for their big flight to freedom. But is Rocky telling the truth? Can he really fly? Or is he some cocky cock with a slick smile and a fast tongue?

Chicken Run is the first full-length feature from Aardman Animation, the folks behind Creature Comforts and the Wallace and Gromit series of award-winning shorts. And for fans of those films, Chicken Run is sure to please. It's fast, it's funny and it has everything that makes Wallace, Gromit and a zoo full of human talking animals shine. Mel Gibson leads a potpourri of famous English and American talent in great voice performances. You'll fall in love with each and every one of these characters. I think it's a given that this is a good film and worth your time.

The DVD brings these chickens into your home perfectly. The anamorphic picture is extremely well preserved. There's nothing on the video that isn't supposed to be there and it looks wonderful. Colors are well rendered, blacks are solid and the image is detailed and free of enhancements. It's just a great picture through and through. The sound too is well done. We get three English tracks - a straight stereo mix, a full sounding Dolby Digital 5.1 track and a richly detailed DTS 5.1 ES track. I prefer the DTS track here, and if you have the equipment, I think you'll find that you will too.

The extras on board are pretty stellar as well. There's a witty commentary track featuring the co-directors of the film discussing EVERYTHING that went into its making. I had a great time listening to what they had to say. Just know this going in, it takes a really well developed sense of humor to do this sort of painstaking animation. There's also two "making-of" featurettes: The Hatching of Chicken Run and Poultry In Motion: The Making of Chicken Run. They're generally the same sort of thing, using much of the same footage and interviews. Both are fluff pieces, but do manage to give an interesting look behind the movie making process. For the kids there's a read-along and some other fun incidentals like "panic buttons" (click it and watch chickens scream), no less than 12 scrambled Easter Eggs with film facts, a set of production notes, a voluminous cast and crew information page, 2 theatrical trailers, a TV spot, a sneak preview of the upcoming film Shrek and some DVD-ROM features like games, screensavers, poster art and disc previews. The best thing is obviously the commentary track, but it's still a fun little set.

Chicken Run was one of my favorite films of 2000. It had enough film references and inside jokes to make someone like me giggle every three seconds, plus it was exciting enough to keep my eyes glued to the screen. This DVD will reveal all of the secrets behind the animation magic, but the film is still amazing enough to thrill me again and again. Do yourself a favor and pluck your own copy of this fine DVD. You'll be crowing until dawn if you do.

Todd Doogan
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