Chicken Run (2000)
1st January 2000
Mrs. Tweedy's and her husband run a chicken farm in Yorkshire. Things aren't going too well for them and egg production is not as profitable as it should be. The chickens dream of escaping the egg farm and head for a better life on the other side of the hill, but no matter how much they try to escape each of their plots fail.
When Mrs. Tweedy receives delivery of a new chicken pie machine the chickens realises that they are living on borrowed time and must escape. However, when Rocky, a smooth-talking and all American rooster, crash lands in the coop the chickens hatch a master plan to fly from the coop. Trouble is, the chickens don't know they can't fly, but with plenty of dedication and teamwork they make their bit for freedom and a better life beyond the fence of the chicken farm.
Both regions picture are bright and reasonably colourful with an impressively high bit-rate rate throughout. I expect the slightly dull colours are deliberate to give the film that WWII feel, plus Nick Park tends to use duller colours in his productions. There's no signs of artifacting, although there I did notice one occasion when there was some slight outlining.
The Dolby Digital soundtrack is impressive with the surround channels used extensively for the atmospheric sounds throughout the film, and especially when the chicken machine starts up. There's even quite a few LFE's during the more dramatic scenes.
The DTS-ES soundtrack on the region one disc, which I assume is at a lower 768kb/s to accommodate both soundtracks, has the edge by having better channel separation which offered that little something extra. However, amazingly, the region two edition also comes with a DTS soundtrack, the first region two disc to have one.
The extras on both discs are interesting, and although titled differently, they are effectively the same extras with trailers and documentaries with the region two edition having the better menu layout. However, the two discs do differ slightly.
The region one edition has a read along section whilst the region two has an Aardman archive featuring clips from all of Parks previous work including Morph, Creature Comforts and naturally Wallace and Gromit which is definitely preferable to a read along section. However, the region one edition does have another trick up its sleeve in the form of an Easter egg hunt, which when found displays some interesting facts about the film.
With the region two edition have both the Dolby Digital and DTS soundtracks it is easy to recommend the European disc. However, owners of ES equipped decoders should be aware that the American edition has a true DTS-ES soundtrack whilst the European version is only matrixed.
Another subtle difference are the extras. They do seem to be biased towards the European addition even though the region one edition has differently animated menus plus an Easter egg hunt and a weird, but amusing, panic button. I've no idea what this feature would be used for, but it's a bit of a laugh - well, until you get bored with it that is!
Chicken Run manages to make fun of the British and Americans as well as having a poke at a number of other films, the Great Escape being the greatest and most obvious example. There were plenty of amusing moments too, with the American Rocky not understanding a single word that the Scottish chicken, Mac, is talking about, being a standout favourite. It even got me thinking whether the Americans could understand the Yorkshire accent, or indeed if they actually knew where Yorkshire was.
- Region One - Director's Commentary with Peter Lord and Nick Park Read-along to the Script; Poultry in Motion: The Making of Chicken Run; The Hatching of Chicken Run; Trailers and Television Spots; Production Notes; Cast and Crew; Egg Hunt; DVD-ROM Enhanced
- Region Two - Teaser Trailer; Regular Trailer; Chicken Impossible Trailer; Chicken Run Game Trailer; Fowl Play : The Making of Chicken Run; Chickens Go In, Pies Come Out; Aardman Archive Clips; Director's Commentary; Audio Described; DVD-ROM Enhanced