Review by Adam Donato
Stop-motion animation fans rejoice! Another feature-length entry is added to a subgenre seldom given its due credit. Unfortunately, this entry comes in the form of a sequel that nobody was asking for. The original Chicken Run is a childhood classic at this point, straight from a time when it wasn't abnormal for a G-rated movie to be in theaters. In what world does the sequel require parental guidance, but the original is a whole rating safer? With the movie premiering on Netflix, parents will likely throw this on and leave the room anyway. Are people nostalgic enough to stream a sequel to Chicken Run?
It's a cliche to call a sequel "The Empire Strikes Back of the franchise." Luckily for Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget, that won't be a problem. Characters keep using the word "again" in the movie. How original can a Chicken Run sequel be anyway? This time around, the chickens are trying to break into a chicken farm to save some chickens, instead of the chickens trying to break out of the chicken farm like in the original. The opening prologue recaps the original film as if audiences need catching up. One could watch this sequel without watching the original, but that's not necessarily a good thing. The animation is arguably a lateral move from the original film. Just watch the original instead. This sequel brings nothing new to the table whatsoever. Not even a new villain. We're doing the same thing again.
This sequel isn't an exact carbon copy, as the lead roles are recast. Despite Julia Sawalha and Mel Gibson still kicking, their roles were recast with Thandiwe Newton and Zachary Levi — recent Netflix favorites as Newton stars in the Big Mouth series, and Levi recently starred in a Spy Kids reboot. One could argue recasting Gibson was necessary due to his poor public perception, but to replace him with Levi is hilarious. Levi is a worse version of Chris Pratt these days. Both of these recastings are unremarkable. Rising star Bella Ramsey from The Last of Us series stars as the daughter of the main couple. Casting celebrities as voice actors is a marketing attempt that doesn't seem fruitful here as nobody is watching the Chicken Run movie because these stars are in it — it's totally uninspired casting.
Few Netflix films have stood the test of time. Even if they're good, they fade into the background of the streaming service unless they have clout like The Irishman. Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget is franchise nostalgia bait that will almost certainly fade into obscurity. The only way this sequel getting nominated for Best Animated Feature is a good thing is if it means Wish doesn't score a nomination. There are too many quality animated films this year to justify recommending people prioritize this one. I respect the animation style, but other than that, it's an uninspired whatever of a movie.
Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget hits theaters on December 8 and Netflix on December 15.