CHICKEN RUN: DAWN OF THE NUGGET Is Entertaining But Not Quite As Brilliant As Its Predecessor

It has been twenty-three years since the original Chicken Run hit theaters and won people’s hearts worldwide. There seems to be no good reason why it took so long for movie audiences to get a sequel, but it is finally here. However, this new installment will not open in theaters; it is limited to Netflix subscribers. This fact raised a red flag for me, considering that Netflix is willing to share its proudest releases theatrically. Well, the truth is that Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget is not bad. It just doesn’t achieve the same level of magical entertainment that its first movie did some time back.

Almost immediately after the first film’s events, Dawn of the Nugget follows the lives of our courageous band of chickens who face death and fight the odds by escaping from their chicken farm. They have settled quite well in a comfortable and seemingly safe island away from humans wanting to steal their eggs or turn their species into food products. Former American circus performer Rocky (Zachary Levi) and his wife Ginger (Thandie Newton) now raise their daughter Molly (Bella Ramsey) and continue to thrive with their friends in their new, human-free environment.

However, things get more complicated when Molly wishes to know more about her parents’ backgrounds and the truth behind the world’s mysteries outside their village. Desperate to protect Molly from the harsh and scary realities of the human world, Ginger and Rocky attempt to keep the daughter in the dark and refuse to allow her to explore beyond the limits of their home. Rebellious and strong-willed like her mother, Molly secretly leaves the island but gets abducted by humans who have plans to turn chickens into a new fast-food craze–the chicken nugget.

Written by Karey Kirkpatrick, John O’Farrell, and Rachel Tunnard, director Sam Fell’s Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget is good fun but never quite delivers the same thrills and comedy that make the first movie so well-loved and lauded. While the previous film is engaging, full of heart and excitement, and never fails to make audiences laugh, the sequel has some dull moments, and not all jokes land successfully.

And while I understand the resistance to recasting Mel Gibson as Rocky, Zachary Levi’s take on the character is a different and less exciting interpretation. Rocky needs the attitude, confidence, and wit that Gibson brought to the role. Thandie Newton does well as Ginger but does not achieve the same greatness that Julia Swalha does with the character in the predecessor. The rest of the cast, which includes some returning voice actors, perform well, as do the new ones, including Bella Ramsey, who provides Molly’s spirited voice.

There are still plenty of entertaining moments, lots of lovely, colorful stop-motion animation, and some inspired realizations of this world beyond that of the first movie. After watching this movie, it now makes perfect sense that Netflix kept it out of theaters and released it only on their streaming service. It is good fun, but better enjoyed in the comfort of one’s home.

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