James M's review of CHICKEN RUN: DAWN OF THE NUGGET (2023)


Welcome back, good movie lovers.

And today, we're looking at Chicken Run's sequel DAWN OF THE NUGGET, which you can view on Netflix, and dropped in December of 2023. So what is this film all about, especially after the first film was basically a parody of prison breakout/World War II POW camp escape films?

DAWN OF THE NUGGET is a spy genre parody, and it takes place in the 1960s, within the decade after the first movie. So let's get into the plot of this film, and I'll keep it as brief as possible.

Following their escape from Tweedy's farm in the first movie, Ginger and her crew have settled on a small island, and she's hooked up with Rocky. They have a baby named Molly, who decides to leave the island and explores the outside world, only to be captured and taken to a high-tech farm with mind-controlled chickens. Ginger and her group set off on a mission to rescue Molly along with the other chickens, and after infiltrating the facility, Ginger learns that the place is run by Doctor Fry and an old enemy in Mrs. Tweedy, remember her from the first film?

Yep, those doors didn't kill her when Mr. Tweedy pushed them. And since then, Mrs. Tweedy's pretty much ditched him for a scientist. As for where Mr. Tweedy went off to in the years since the first film, we have no idea. But long story short, Ginger saves Molly and Mrs. Tweedy is defeated again... until Dreamworks decides to do a third film and bring her back for the second time. The film ends with Ginger embarking on a mission to save more chickens from other farms holding them captive.

The cast for the film is somewhat different compared to the first film. Ginger's OG voice actress didn't come back, and they brought in Thandie Newton instead of Julia Sawalha. Rocky Rhodes is voiced by Zachary Levi, who has played Shazam in the DCEU, and Mel Gibson wasn't brought back for... reasons. Fowler's OG voice actor, Benjamin Whtrow, died years before production began, and Dreamworks' new pick for Fowler's voice is the wonderful David Bradley, who's played Filtch in Harry Potter and the First Doctor in certain episodes of Doctor Who's modern revival.

Some of the voice actors from the first film do return, however, and they got Miranda Richardson to voice Mrs. Tweedy, and she isn't too bad. She does a real convincing job, especially since Mrs. Tweedy's somewhat changed since the first film, and you can somewhat tell what is going through her mind after her last defeat. She wants revenue... Actually, she wants revenge, the top motivation for Mrs. Tweedy in her second outing.

People don't seem to think highly of this film, but I say it's not too bad, and it was quite fun seeing. As for if a third film can happen, who knows if it will, but I don't have anything to complain about. You could say Mrs. Tweedy was a highlight since she was almost a bigger threat than in the first film (even though she was still a threat there), and she did not dismiss what Ginger was capable of, and she's come a long way from that attitude of "Apart from you, they're the most stupid creatures on this planet. They don't plot! They don't scheme! AND THEY ARE NOT ORGANIZED!"

Should I recommend this movie?

Go ahead and view it. I say it's worth an 8.5/10 stars. And just like that, I'll see you later!

-James M

James M's review of CHICKEN RUN (2000)


Hi, guys. Near the end of last year, Dreamworks released CHICKEN RUN: DAWN OF THE NUGGET, the sequel to 2000's CHICKEN RUN, on Netflix. Now, before reviewing the sequel, let's take a look at the first movie.

First, some background.

Dreamworks is the studio behind many hits such as WALLACE & GROMIT and, of course, SHREK. Oh, let's not forget SHARK TALE. However, those aren't the ONLY films they're known for, and this is where CHICKEN RUN comes in. The movie is basically THE GREAT ESCAPE, but with chickens... and a rooster. Yep, it's a parody of 1963's World War II epic, but instead of soldiers and pilots trying to escape a Nazi camp during World War II, it's British chickens, a few rats, and an American rooster escaping a farm run by greedy tunnel-visioned woman and her kinda observant farmer husband. The wonderful Mel Brooks voices the character of Rocky Rhodes, the rooster, and Mrs. Tweedy, the main villain, is voiced by Miranda Richardson, who reprises her role in the sequel. 

Oh, and the film is made by Peter Lord and Nick Park, the same lads who were involved with the WALLACE & GROMIT films. And by the way, one of the inspirations for the film came from an incident that happened in Nick Park's youth where several pet chickens of his tried to escape their pen. Yeah, chickens can kinda try to escape. Don't think about it too much. So, let's get into the story of the movie.

In 1953, somewhere in Yorkshire, England, a chicken named Ginger tries to escape a farm, which looks like a World War II prison camp, during the night while Mr. Willard Tweedy is on guard duty. Ginger's plan fails as she is caught by Mr. Tweedy, his dogs, and his wife Mrs. Tweedy, who demands to know what Ginger is doing outside the fence and tells Mr. Tweedy to deal with it. Mr. Tweedy throws the chicken into solitary confinement in a coal box, and yells at the other chickens to let it be a lesson to the lot of them.


Life on the farm isn't kind to the chickens, whose job is to lay eggs, then the Tweedys take the eggs and sell them. And when the chickens stop laying eggs, they are killed. Mrs. Tweedy is pretty much a ruthless prison warden/Nazi camp commandant figure here, with Mr. Tweedy as her henchman. Ginger makes more attempts to escape with her friends, but she always gets caught and thrown in the coal box. One morning, during roll call, a chicken named Edwina is taken away after she stops laying eggs for days and is beheaded by Mrs. Tweedy.

Ginger is not about to give up, and calls for a meeting with the other chickens after dark. Two rats named Nick and Fletcher get involved, and Ginger asks for their help before she goes to take care of the escape committee. Meanwhile, Mrs. Tweedy has become fed up with making profits off eggs and discovers "a way to make some real money" around the farm. As she's reading into the solution, Mr. Tweedy is observing the farm and remarks that the chickens are up to something, saying they're organized, and reckons that Ginger is "their leader". 

Mrs. Tweedy, being the ruthlessly overconfident, tunnel-visioned, and pretty abusive housewife that she is, gets irked with what her husband has to say and calls the notions ridiculous before telling Mr. Tweedy that it's all in his head. She tells him to keep telling himself that, but when Mr. Tweedy tries to tell her about Ginger's prior escape attempts, Mrs. Tweedy gets angry and shouts that the chickens are the most stupid creatures on the planet.

"THEY DON'T PLOT, THEY DON'T SCHEME, AND THEY ARE NOT ORGANIZED!" She yells, completely unaware that Ginger and the chickens are having a meeting and planning another escape attempt at that moment. Amidst the meeting, Mr. Tweedy comes to check on the chickens before Mrs. Tweedy calls him away. Ginger plans for her and the others to make their new home in the countryside, even though others seem to have doubts.

Ginger steps away from the meeting, overwhelmed and clouded by uncertainty, and as she prays for a solution, an American circus rooster arrives and injures himself after seemingly flying in. In actuality, he was fired out of a cannon during a show. Ginger and the others take the rooster in, tend to his injuries, and hide him from Mr. and Mrs. Tweedy (as well as the man in charge of the circus the rooster is from). The rooster introduces himself as Rocky Rhodes and reluctantly agrees to teach the chickens how to fly.

The next day, Rocky begins teaching flying lessons to the chickens with not much progress made (and Mr. Tweedy catches a glimpse of what Ginger and her group are doing at one point). You know what is super off-putting here? The previous night, Mrs. Tweedy told Mr. Tweedy to tell himself "its all in your head". But here, he tries to tell Mrs. Tweedy what's happening, only to see the chickens pecking and Mrs. Tweedy bops him on the head. I'll tell you this now, aside from the scene where Mrs. Tweedy tells her husband to do it, Mr. Tweedy only does the "its all in your head" in two scenes in the movie.

Tangent aside. As night falls, and flying class comes to an end, a truck arrives on the farm and Rocky panics, thinking the circus has come for him. Ginger hides the rooster and watches with the rest of the chickens as the truck, which turns out to be a delivery truck, drops off strange boxes. Mrs. Tweedy tells Mr. Tweedy this is their future and the machine will bring them out of the dark ages, no more wasting time with egg farming. The next morning, Mrs. Tweedy measures the chickens and orders Mr. Tweedy to fatten them up.

Later, as the chickens are partying, Rocky's wing finally recovers, just before Mr. and Mrs. Tweedy activate their newly-made pie machine, which Mrs. Tweedy intends to use to kill the chickens and make pies out of them. To test it, she has Mr. Tweedy get her a chicken. Mr. Tweedy knows just the one, and gets Ginger as subject zero for the chicken pie machine. And I bet he didn't hesitate to tell Mrs. Tweedy why he chose Ginger, reminding her of the chicken's prior escape attempts (and Mr. Tweedy likely did inform her about Ginger's escape attempts in the past after stopping them), and Mrs. Tweedy, despite her "they're not organized" attitude" was like, "Okay, I guess today's your lucky day."

Anyways, Rocky, with some assistance from the other chickens, makes his way into the farm and goes inside the pie machine after Ginger. They narrowly make it out, but not before causing some damage to the machine, which puts it out of order and irks Mrs. Tweedy. The other chickens learn of what Mrs. Tweedy has planned for them and Fowler, a rooster who was in the Royal Air Force during World War II and acts as the chickens' seinor ranking officer, lets Rocky have his bunk. Rocky departs the farm the next morning, and the chickens discover, with help from a poster, that he couldn't actually fly.

However, during a fight involving Fowler, Ginger asks the old rooster about the Royal Air Force and the "Old Crate". Fowler shows the chickens what he's been talking about and Ginger formulates the ultimate escape plan, which involves building a plane. Meanwhile, Mr. Tweedy is working hard to fix the pie machine, and nearly gets it to work again while the chickens are halfway with making the old crate.

The chickens work endlessly on the Old Crate, determined to escape, and, one fateful night, Mr. Tweedy gets the pie machine to work again. Mrs. Tweedy tells him to get all of the chickens, and when he does, Mr. Tweedy is shocked to see the chickens using his tools to work on something. Ginger and her group attack him, causing Mr. Tweedy to scream out to his wife, only for Mrs. Tweedy to ignore him and assume that her husband called the chickens disgusting. Ginger silences Mr. Tweedy, and the chickens trap him under a hut.

At this point, there's no turning back. The chickens finish the plane and prepare to fly, Ginger learns Fowler never piloted the old crate in his RAF days, and convinces him to fly. Fowler agrees, and the plane gets moving. The chickens are just about to lift off when Mr. Tweedy somehow gets up and knocks over the ramp before getting knocked over by the plane. Ginger goes to get the ramp, only for Mrs. Tweedy to intervene with her axe just as Rocky arrives and hits her with a bike.

Ginger and Rocky fix the ramp and the plane takes off. The two flightless birds climb aboard as the Old Crate flies away from the farm. However, Mrs. Tweedy is far from finished as she grabs onto some Christmas lights hanging from the plane, determined to get those chickens. Ginger confronts her, and Mrs. Tweedy tries to kill the smart chicken, only to wind up cutting the line and she falls towards her own farm.

In Fowler's words, "Bombs away!"

Mrs. Tweedy falls into her own pie machine, which blows up due to overwhelming pressure and decimates the barn. Mr. Tweedy checks on his humiliated wife and isn't very delicate when he says he told her Ginger's group "was organized" before the barn doors fall on Mrs. Tweedy. It's not like they actually missed and Mrs. Tweedy is far from finished with the chickens, but that's a different story for another day. The chickens make it to freedom, Ginger and Rocky fall in love, and the story ends with the two rats Nick and Fletcher talking about starting a chicken farm and the question of whether the chicken or the egg came first.

So, that's Chicken Run.

I first saw this film at my grandparents' place in Arizona when I was younger, and they actually let us take it home. Since then, we've kept it in our DVD collection, and I've viewed it multiple times. At one point, I saw it several months after seeing THE GREAT ESCAPE and my most recent viewing of it was right before we watched the sequel. 

For it's time, the movie is wonderfully done, and the soundtrack is quite amazing with THE EVIL MRS. TWEEDY being one heck of a score, going from almost whimsical to being downright terrifying, and there are other fantastic moments with music throughout the movie too. Oh, and Mel Brooks is a fantastical actor to play Rocky, even though Zachary Levi voices him in the sequel, and Miranda Richardson has range as Mrs. Tweedy. By the way, a BTS reel showed her doing the "NO CHICKEN ESCAPES FROM TWEEDY'S FARM" line in Mrs. Tweedy's voice, that kinda implies she was going to be the one to deliver it instead of her husband in the movie.

As for Mr. Tweedy's actor, Tony Haygarth crushed it, and we won't forget such a legend. Rest in peace, Tony, you will be missed deeply. The tone of the movie is also fantastic, it can be serious and then shift into light-hearted territory, all while certain danger looms throughout in various scenes while both sides plan their moves. The animation is fluid, and the suspense is handled decently. If any of you never saw it before, it's on Netflix, DVD and other platforms. Chicken Run gets a 10, and I recommend it to movie nerds out there.

See you.


James M's review of THE GREAT ESCAPE (1963)


History can never forget the Second World War, the events that led to it, those who started it, the heroes of the war, and what ended the chaotic carnage. 

In the decades since Germany and Japan's respective surrender, there have been films set during the war that told historical or fictional stories about many events involving the Allied heroes of World War II. In 1963, the world saw the release of THE GREAT ESCAPE, starring the legendary Steve McQueen, which told the story of a daring historical escape by Allied POWs and went on to inspire films such as Dreamworks' CHICKEN RUN (2000).

The film is set in 1943, almost four years into the war, and sees a group of Allied prisoners, who are known for escaping German POW camps, moved to Luft Stalag III, run by a Luftwaffe Colonel named Von Luger, actually a stand-in for Stalag III's real commandant Fredrich Willhelm von Lindeiner-Wildau, who tells British Group Captain Ramsey not to make any attempts to escape, even though the Group Captain tells him that it is the sworn duty of every officer to escape. 

Captain Hilts, played by Steven McQueen, joins a group of POWs planning to escape, and, after some planning with plenty of hiccups, 76 of the prisoners, one of which is Hilts, break out of the camp using one of the tunnels they dug, and a few of them make it out of Germany while the others, including Captain Hilts, are either recaptured or killed with fifty of the escaping prisoners being executed by the Gestapo under Adolf Hitler's orders. War crime! The film ends with Hilts in the cooler at Stalag III, playing ball, and planning to escape. Again.

We own this film on DVD, and my father and I saw it together some couple of years back. This film is unforgettable, a product of it's time, and it was well-made, despite taking creative liberties with certain historical events. The sets and locations in the movie looked quite visually stunning, with Luft Stalag III reminding me of Stalag 13 from Hogan's Heroes and capturing that POW Camp vibe, and the action was well-done with the motorcycle chase being a fine highlight. Within a nearly 3 hour runtime, the movie perfectly sets up the plot, introduces us to the characters and their motivations, and showcases the heroes' efforts decently. Oh, and the soundtrack holds up for it's time.

THE GREAT ESCAPE is a worthwhile World War II film, and I'm happy to rate it a B+ & a 9.8/10. Perhaps I'll watch it again in the future when we have time.

See you soon.

March Reading Wrap Up


March passed way too quickly. I read ten books this month with Mark Helprin's In Sunlight and In Shadow the longest at 705 pages and Charles De Lint's The Mystery of Grace the shortest at 269 pages.  I made progress reading my physical shelves with only one being an ebook. 

Our 52 books author of the month was Rebecca Yarros and I dove into what I consider a five star read of the Empryean series.    I really enjoyed the first two book and now have to wait until the beginning of next year for the third book. Which is fine since I get to read it all over again.  Fourth Wing (498 pages) is a fantasy romance with dragons and gut wrenching bad good guys and bad guys. The cadets have to master a parapet to join or fall to their deaths.  Each challenge becomes a matter of life or death, no inbetween.  In Iron Flame, (640 pages) the cadets to go war and have to deal with deception and challenges and the story is full of twists and turns.  

I got an early start on our April 52 books author of the month Bonnie Garmus  in Lessons in Chemistry.  A woman scientist and single mother in the 50's has to battle and deal with male  colleagues who treat her badly and lie and deceive her. The work culture was very misogynistic at that time. In the process she finds love and passion as well as loss.  ****

I finished the fifth book in Ben Aaronvitch's Rivers of London series with Foxglove Summer in which two girls from Heresfordshire go missing and one of them gets replaced with a changelings.  There is also a nasty unicorn involved.  ****

Faith Hunter's 6th book in the Soulwood series, Rift in the Soul came out in which Nell has to deal with more vampires, the vampire tree, gifts from nature, while preparing to marry Occam.  ****

Finally read Curse of Salem (304 pages), the 20th book in Kay Hooper's Bishop/Special paranormal crimes series,  about the five people in the leading families of Salem dying under mysterious circumstances, while lead character tried to figure out if her gift was a talent or a curse.  ****  

Reread Charles De Lint's The Mystery of Grace for one of my M reads in which a dead woman was caught by a witch in limbo and she had to figure out how to get back to the land of the living or move on to Heaven. ****

I looked forward to reading Mark Helprin's In Sunlight and In Shadow since I thoroughly enjoyed The Winter's Tale and Soldier of the Great War, but was disappointed by the story line. A historical romance novel set just after WWII in New York city in which the lead character decides vigilante justice against the mob was the best way go and it ends up all wrong.  **

Helprin's novel set a theme for the next two books which went down the same path. 

Jessica Strawser's The Last Caretaker  started out with good intentions then went down the wrong path in dealing with domestic violence, vigilante justice and solving problems without  the authorities. ** meh

And Leslie Wolfe's The Surgeon when a cardiac patient died under mysterious circumstances and the lead characters were involved in abuse, adultery, blackmail, and decided vigilante justice without the police was the best solution. ** meh

Going into April reading two chunky books David Brin's Earth and Christopher Paolini's Murtagh.