Chicken Run appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Though not a terrible presentation, the image seemed surprisingly bland.
Sharpness felt decent but not exceptional. While the movie mustered adequate to good delineation, it never boasted the kind of definition I expected and seemed vaguely mushy much of the time.
No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects materialized, and I saw no edge haloes. Print flaws remained absent.
Like sharpness, colors came across as lackluster. The tones failed to deliver much vivacity, so they seemed oddly bland much of the time.
Blacks were on the inky side, and shadows seemed a bit dense. Nothing here made this a poor image, but it felt flat and without much spark.
At least the movie’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack fared better, even if it featured a fairly forward-oriented soundfield. The front speakers presented a nicely-integrated sonic image that provided a broad impression. Sounds moved neatly across the channels and seemed well-placed within the environment.
Surround usage appeared somewhat limited at times, though the movie included a few scenes in which they came to life powerfully. The first “pie machine” sequence and the climactic escape scene both worked best in this regard. All five channels offered solid audio during those segments and made the soundtrack much more engaging.
Audio quality appeared strong, as dialogue always seemed distinct and natural. The speech integrated nicely with the action and showed no signs of edginess or concerns related to intelligibility above and beyond some fairly-thick accents.
Music sounded bright and brassy and offered fine dynamic range. Effects were clear and without distortion, and they also displayed very nice bass response. While the track could have been somewhat more active, the mix seemed to be fairly appropriate for the movie and it complemented the story neatly.
As we shift to extras, we open with an audio commentary from directors Peter Lord and Nick Park. They provide a running, screen-specific look at story/characters, cast and performances, character and set design, animation, editing, music, references/influences, and connected domains.
Expect a satisfying chat here, as Lord and Park cover a nice array of topics. They do so with wit and make this both a fun and informative discussion.
Perplexing moment: at one point, we’re told that Michael Keaton’s performance in After Hours influenced this movie. However, Keaton didn’t appear in that film.
My guess? They meant the Keaton character from 1982’s Night Shift. That’s the only Keaton role of this era that seems relevant in this discussion.
Two featurettes follow, and Poultry in Motion runs 20 minutes, 50 seconds. It offers notes from Lord, Park, executive producers Jake Eberts and Jeffrey Katzenberg, writer Karey Kirkpatrick, paint design supervisor Polly Holland, foley artist Diane Greaves, foley effects editor James Mather, composers Harry Gregson-Williams and John Powell, and actors Mel Gibson, Julia Sawalha, Lynn Ferguson, Miranda Richardson, Jane Horrocks, and Tony Haygarth.
“Motion” covers story/characters, cast and performances, animation, audio and music. Fluffy in nature, we get a mix of happy talk and useful material in this decent but unexceptional promo reel.
The Hatching of Chicken Run spans 15 minutes, three seconds. It involves Park, Lord, Gibson, Sawalha, Eberts, Katzenberg, Richardson, Ferguson, supervising animator Lloyd Price, and key animator Merlin Crossingham.
The featurette looks at the history of Aardman Studios, story/characters, cast and performances, and animation. “Hatching” echoes “Motion” and repeats some information, though it comes with a few new notes.
As a whole, Chicken Run falls short of true greatness. However, it brings a fun and delightful experience that rarely sputters. The Blu-ray offers very good audio as well as a decent set of supplements and disappointing picture. I like the movie but visual quality doesn’t live up to expectations.