Aardman Animation and Nick Park have brought us some of the best stock motion animation over the years, from the likes of Chicken Run, The Pirates! In an Adventures with Scientists and of course the Wallace and Gromit franchise.
They have brought together great British comedy that is relevant to both children and adults alike, and their films could even rival the likes of Pixar.
Now in cinemas is their latest project Early Man, a prehistoric story that looks at the early ancestors of our favourite Aardman characters.
Set during the time of the Stone Age, we follow Dug (Eddie Redmayne) and his tribe as they are pushed out of their valley by future invaders who are now in the Bronze Age and threatening Dug’s way of life. However, instead of aggression, the tribes settle their differences playing the beautiful game of football. Dug has no other choice but to challenge the champions for his valley.
The stock motion is top notch and what you expect from the great Nick Park, it’s easy to appreciate the time and effort that is put into this type of animation. It is extremely time-consuming as a full day’s shot could make up barely a minute of the finished product. This is where Early Man shines, with moments of fantastic slapstick comedy that is well timed and absolutely hilarious. From an animation standpoint, I don’t think it’s been stronger and you can see why Nick Park is known as the master of his craft.
The voice acting is very well done bringing some amazing British talent together, with the likes of Eddie Redmayne, Maisie Williams, Timothy Spall and Richard Ayoade among the cast. The most memorable is, of course, Tom Hiddleston’s, Lord Nooth. Using his great skills of conveying accents, Hiddleston creates a stereotypical French tone that brings so many laughs and truly produces a villain worth knowing. Even Nick Park gets in on the action providing his voice to Hognob the warthog.
The main problem is the story. It starts off well enough as we learn more about Aardman’s prehistoric world, and there are some interesting moments of comedy there, which I wish we could have explored more. However, once it brings in the football the storyline loses its charm and humour and lost me during the second half. Early Man suffers from jokes that would only work on young children. It does get better towards the final act but it really was hard to re-engage my interest.
Another problem is the story does seem very predictable and you can pretty much guess how the tale is going to go about halfway through the movie. It might have been worth disregarding the football subplot and make it into a tale about cavemen as once it becomes a sports movie it hits all those similar beats so you can pretty much guess the rest of the movie by the time the credits roll.
Unfortunately, Early Man does not hold a candle to Chicken Run and Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Wererabbit, in terms of story and humour but you may still find some enjoyment in it. Children will love it and will find the comedy truly funny and the adults that go with them could be viewing a lot worse, such as the Emoji Movie.
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