Aardman Animations

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Shaun The Sheep is coming to America!


He even mucks about with those who cannot bleat
Apr 28
// Jackson Tyler
Shaun The Sheep is so far, one of the best movies of the year. Here in the UK, I saw it back in february, enjoyed it thoroughly, and sang its praises everywhere that I could. "It'll never come out in America though," I'd...
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Aardman art and sets on display at art gallery in France


Cue that Wallace hand shaking motion now
Mar 27
// John-Charles Holmes
If you find yourself in Paris any time soon, it might be worth your time to check out the Art Ludique if you're a fan of stop motion animation. From now until mid-August, the art museum will be featuring Exhibition Aardman, a...

Review: Shaun The Sheep

Feb 23 // Jackson Tyler
[embed]218991:42236:0[/embed] Shaun The SheepDirectors: Richard Starzak and Mark BurtonRated: URelease Date: February 6, 2015 (UK) The movie's set up is simple, yet it rapidly spirals into madcap adventures that border on the surreal. Simple version: Shaun (the Sheep) is dissatisfied with the daily grind of life on his farm, and after a plan to cause mischief goes awry, it's up to him and his fellow sheep to head into the big city and bring their farmer back home. Also, at one point there's a hairdressing/sheep shearing montage which plays out over social media. Luckily, the story's absurdist nature is fully anchored by a rock solid emotional core, so you'll have no trouble rolling with it as it swings between hilarious comedic stepieces at a breakneck pace. In no small part, this is due to the film's nature as a silent movie. For the entire 84 minutes, not a single line of dialogue is spoken, the characters brought to life through Aardman's stunningly detailed animation, and the occasional grunt or bleat. As an exercise in filmmaking craft, Shaun The Sheep is downright educational in how it hooks the audience into its emotional journey. From the suffocating mundanity of the opening montage, to the beautiful camaraderie of a mid film musical sequence, the movie is a phenomenal execution of a genre that is long extinct. The total lack of dialoguee is used honestly, to emphasise the power of Aardman's visual storytelling, and never once as a gimmick as in something like The Artist. But Aardman can make movies both heartfelt and funny in their sleep, and in fact they have, multiple times before. What pushes it from good film to a truly great one is the melancholic layer of nostalgia that permeates every frame. Aardman's heart has always had one foot in the past, its work a celebration of a rural Britain that has spent the better part of the last two centuries slowly dying, and Shaun The Sheep brings that conflict to the forefront and addresses it head on. Its rural characters are dissatisfied and loveless, going through the motions of their lives, and it is only through upon their exposure to the big city that they begin to realise what it is they don't want to lose. The design captures both rural and urban Britain to a tangible detail, from faded green road signs to sterile NHS hospital hallways, to the way a train line functions as a mark across the landscape, grafting countryside and cityscape together like a stitch in cotton. Much like Shaun is here, Aardman are a studio grappling with the reality that they are growing up in a world that is rapidly leaving them behind, and sooner or later they need to come to terms with it. This conflict is nothing new in British art, blind rural nostalgia was already old when Far From The Madding Crowd did it over 140 years ago. But whereas that terrible book (come at me, Thomas Hardy), and even Lord of the Rings to a certain extent, paint encroaching modernisation as a boogeyman ruining a superior traditional way of life, Shaun The Sheep is a domestic and honest story about finding your own space within a world out of your control. However, lest hose ridiculous literary comparisons make you forget: this is a kids movie, and a fantastic one at that. Aardman speak from the heart, but never so loudly that they lose sight of a movie that will make children laugh and cry. It's hilarious and charming, bursting at the seams with character and stuffed with approximately a billion sight gags. Shaun The Sheep is a movie that aims young but feels so old. It could have so easily been them selling out, but instead, it is a great studio's best work yet, a movie more intimate and personal than anything Aardman have released prior. I hope Aardman keep making movies forever, but it's hard to deny that Shaun The Sheep feels like goodbye. And if it is, then I can't think of any better parting words.
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Aardman are back, and better than ever
It's hard to believe that Shaun The Sheep is only Aardman's fourth stop motion feature film. The studio initially made its name in the UK with short films in the 70s and 80s such as Creature Comforts, but it was with the re...

Shaun the Sheep photo
Shaun the Sheep

Teaser trailer for Shaun the Sheep the Movie


Where the heck is my Sheep in the Big City movie?
Sep 02
// Nick Valdez
Aardman Animations, the company that brought us Wallace & Gromit and that cute Pirates! Band of Misfits movie, now has a full film adaptation of their Shaun the Sheep shorts. While it has no domestic release date, it's t...

Jenika's Top 5 Animated Movies of 2012

Jan 04 // Jenika Katz
Honorable mention: The Pirates! Band of Misfits [embed]208839:37988[/embed] I love Aardman films. Really, I do. Stop motion is one of my favorite animation techniques, and Aardman does it so well. Pirates! is a very cute movie, and the animation is great. When it came to making this list, however, it took a while to remember I'd seen it at all. The plot is a bit of a jumble, and actually seeing the movie doesn't feel too different from just watching the trailer. Still, it's a lot of fun, and well worth watching for the chuckles and the art style. Read our review of The Pirates! Band of Misfits here. 5. The Secret World of Arrietty [embed]207065:37834[/embed] Studio Ghibli's first film in a couple of years does not disappoint. Despite some odd voice acting and problems with audio levels, the movie is a big, fun adventure in a tiny, dangerous world. The characters are quirky and interesting, as one might have come to expect from this company, and the world they inhabit feels well-developed and just as big as its residents seem to find it. The animation is absolutely gorgeous, and a beautiful return to traditional 2D. Read our review of The Secret World of Arrietty here. 4. ParaNorman [embed]212494:38726[/embed] At a glance, ParaNorman is an amalgamation of successful money-grabs rolled into one movie. Kid that doesn't fit in? Check. Animation? Check. Zombies? Check. Directly following the success of Coraline, it would have a decent crowd right away. I had my reservations, but the result ended up being so much better than I could have hoped. The story has the same video game-y feel that Coraline gave, from the different environments to the final boss, and a similar sense of horror that's hard to find in an animated film. And the stop motion! Oh man, the stop motion. Stunning, smooth animation on intricate figures with detailed backgrounds. The only thing holding this movie back so far on this list is that section in the middle where Norman has to monologue. Monologuing is such a mood-killer. Read our review of ParaNorman here. 3. Wreck-It Ralph [embed]213488:39061[/embed] Speaking of movies with a video game-y feel to them, Wreck-It Ralph was another movie I was pleasantly surprised by. Cinematic odes to video games can go very poorly, and Sarah Silverman's voice sounds like nails on a chalkboard to me, but none of that mattered in the end. There's a level of heart in the movie beyond just the gamer nostalgia. Digital animation is so common-place that it almost feels detrimental to an otherwise great animated film, but Ralph escapes that feeling entirely. The real magic is in the little details, from the different ways the characters move to the “Aerith lives” graffitti on the walls of Game Central Station. Even Sarah Silverman couldn't ruin the fun of this movie for me. Read our review of Wreck-It Ralph here. 2. Frankenweenie [embed]211059:38476[/embed] Seriously, I don't know how three different companies released feature-length stop motion films this year, but I'm pretty sure it means that there is a God and he's trying to get in my pants. Frankenweenie was one of those movies I felt had no business being remade, and was adamantly opposed to...until I saw the trailer. Stop motion! Black and white! Burton's original style before he started casting Johnny Depp in everything! Still, it was hard not to be cynical. How could a short film about accepting death possibly reach a wide audience, especially such a young one, without being stripped and simplified? What a joy it was to discover that it was, indeed, possible. Frankenweenie delivered the same story, expanded to fit its original intent, with fantastic models and sets that used just enough technology to help the puppets defy gravity in the way they needed to. Best of all, it didn't shy away from the subject matter, and packed an emotional punch without feeling manipulative. Read our review of Frankenweenie here. 1. Brave [embed]210961:38439[/embed] Oh, Brave. One of the original inspirations for the Princess Review series was noting the lack of strong female characters in both Disney films and princess movies in general. Why couldn't there be a woman who could live life without a man? Why did every heroine need to be rescued and get married? My most anticipated film of 2012 had some lofty goals to meet, and it did not disappoint in the least. It feels like Brave took all the worst aspects of movies aimed at children and said, "Nope, not doing that." Merida is a real person, selfish and flawed, and her journey leads her to self-improvement and familial appreciation. The other characters have personal development and are not solely there to make the main character look better. The comic relief is actually comedic and not detrimental to the rest of the movie. The movie remains grounded in its time period and does not throw in pop culture references for a cheap laugh. It's more than just avoiding mistakes, of course. Brave takes a goal to have a strong female lead and accomplishes it, and does so without sacrificing entertainment or quality in the name of reaching a wider audience. The world is beautiful and the character style fits in well, and all of that is just a cherry on top of the rest of the experience. Read our review of Brave here. Read my Princess Review of Brave here.
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Which movies came out on top in 2012?
In recent years, a lot of animated movies have been formulaic and underwhelming, but 2012 brought us the variety and quality that has been missing in the genre for a while. Sure, Disney brought back Beauty and the Beast, Find...

Review: The Pirates! Band Of Misfits

Apr 27 // Xander Markham
[embed]208839:37988[/embed] The Pirates! Band Of MisfitsDirector: Peter Lord, Jeff NewittRating: GRelease Date: April 27th, 2012 The script is amusing by itself, with plenty of joyously ridiculous wordplay, but as ever with Aardman, it's the wordless jokes which earn biggest laughs. For every one which doesn't work - the monkey with subtitle cards is too close to Gromit for comfort, with none of his adorable expressiveness - there are at least three which do. A playful score keeps the tone jolly, although leaving out the brilliant shanty from the trailer (above), or replacing it with a different one, was a serious misstep. The voice cast work hard to keep up with the high calibre of those production values, with Hugh Grant's Pirate Captain swinging between bloody-minded gusto and eye-rolling despair on a turn of a doubloon. It's not far from Grant's usual brand of buffoonish charm, but it's clear the actor is having a ball, and his enthusiasm (allied with the outstanding animation) is passed on to the audience. Imelda Staunton also throws herself into the incessantly apoplectic, historically re-envisioned Queen Victoria, seemingly bursting a blood vessel with every word spoken - two if that word is 'Pirate', delivered time and time again with the whistling fury of a boiled kettle. Her bombast is only overshadowed by an unexpected but cheer-worthy cameo in the shape of a Pirate King, who steals the entire movie in two short scenes. Of the main cast, only Martin Freeman can feel short-changed, playing the usual sensible sidekick as from seemingly every one of his screen outings. David Tennant's stuttery Darwin is a more effective straight man to the Pirate Captain's excesses. If you've seen any of the movie's promotional material, you'll have noticed a number of big names not yet mentioned in this review: Salma Hayek (playing Cutlass Liz, who is nowhere near as badass as our Community Manager Liz), Jeremy Piven and Lenny Henry do indeed feature, but in roles best described as high-profile cameos, largely insignificant to the unfolding of the story. Their characters are reasonably vivid for their short time on-screen, but barely appear outside a single scene in a pub. As much fun as it is to have them part of this world, there's just no room for them. As with many of Aardman's big-screen productions (Chicken Run), there's too much going on, to the extent that it can seem feel like the story only exists to accommodate the extensive background details, rather than the other way around. The plot, for example, is a scatty patchwork of three different stories - an Awards story, a Darwin story, and a Queen Victoria story - providing plentiful silly set-pieces and jokes, but none with the structure to allow them to coalesce into a satisfying whole. What's left is a series of visually gorgeous, often hilarious individual sketches, linked by a common thread (pirates) too thin to hold everything together in a satisfactory manner. The movie's silly charm is an effective disguise, but cannot cover the moment when, upon leaving the auditorium, the feeling sinks in that this was a meal served in a thousand enjoyable morsels, each pleasurable in their own right but nowhere near as filling as the promised feast promised by those magnificent trailers. The lack of a real ending - the movie just stops, cutting to a credits reel that is arguably the movie's most sustained piece of comedy - is indicative of an experience that never quite adds up, feeling more like three stitched together cartoons than a real movie. It's too loveable and accomplished to not be enjoyable, but tragically difficult to wholeheartedly adore.
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[This was originally posted under the UK title The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists. It has been reposted to coincide with the US release.] Aardman are one of those rare companies almost impossible to dislike: they've...

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Trailer: The Pirates! Band of Misfits


Apr 03
// Liz Rugg
Aardman Animations has jumped on the pop-culture band-wagon with this new trailer for their newest claymation movie The Pirates! Band of Misfits - also known as, The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists. The new trailer ...
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New behind-the-scenes images for Aardman's The Pirates!


Mar 05
// Liz Rugg
The good people of Aardman Animations (Wallace and Gromit, Chicken Run) have been hard at work preparing their latest feature length movie, The Pirates! Band of Misfits, and these behind-the-scenes photographs really show how...
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Flix for Short: Aardman Animations takes on DC comics


Jan 27
// Liz Rugg
Aaaaaaaawwwwww! This super-cute animation was done by none other than Pirates! Band of Misfits creators, Aardman Animations. The short is a part of Cartoon Network's new DC Nation block of programming. It features an adorabl...
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Aardman to alter Pirates! due to leper group outcry


Jan 24
// Liz Rugg
Yes, that is too a real title. Aardman Animations, the creators of the classic stop-motion shorts of Wallace and Gromit, have issued a statement that they will change a scene in their upcoming The Pirates! Band of Misfits bec...
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Trailer: Arthur Christmas


Oct 04
// Alex Katz
Christmas is magical, dammit. That's why I like the look of Arthur Christmas. It looks like a solid, slightly off-kilter-yet-heartwarming Christmas movie in the tradition of my old favorites. I still feel like every time I s...
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Trailer: The Pirates! Band of Misfits


Jul 14
// Alex Katz
I don't know why I'm always surprised that every Aardman movie looks like the best damn thing ever, because it happens every time they make something, with the exception of Flushed Away. Never cared for that one. The Pirates...

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