Early Man is a stop-motion animated comedy film directed by Nick Park, written by Mark Burton and James Higginson starring the voices of Eddie Redmayne, Tom Hiddleston, Maisie Williams, and Timothy Spall.
The Story/The Direction:
The movie tells the story of Dug (Redmayne) and his cave-people tribe who are pushed out of their valley by Lord Nooth (Hiddleston) and other members of the Bronze age. To get their land back, Dug challenges Nooth to play the Bronzian's sacred sport of futbol. If Dug wins, they get their land back but if they lose, he and his tribe will be forced to spend the rest of their lives working in the mines. The problem is that Dug and his tribe have never played the sport.
If you enjoyed Park's prior films Chicken Run and Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, or other Aardman Animation films such as Shaun the Sheep or Flushed Away, you will enjoy this movie. While the plot is fairly predictable, the humor and wit that existed in the previous films still exist. This film has a lot of typical Aardman-isms that allow each scene to be enjoyable and no matter if someone pays attention to the dialogue or the writing on a newspaper, it's a lot of fun. Park and his writers lean heavy on the puns but they are not overdone to become annoying. There are a lot of small things that if paid attention to can add even more to the humor of the film. Even though this film does have some CGI, Aardman's known clay-looking animation gives the characters a real feeling. This allows for the film to feel homemade as the other Aardman films are known for. This movie may be about futbol but even if the audience is not a massive fan of the sport, it can be enjoyed as the way Aardman does their films is =clever, and interesting. This company is not meant to be on the same level as Disney and/or Pixar but they still stand out in their own way.
The voice cast is spot on with highlights of Redmayne and Hiddleston. Redmayne is really great utilizing his voice for Dug who is a caveman whose best friend is a pig named Hognob (Park), a clear Gromit-like animal. Hiddleston plays this French villain who perhaps steals the movie with his voice. Each character has its own personality in this film that is filled with both visual and dialogue-based jokes that will have both kids and adults alike laughing. All the actors do really great jobs which just adds to the pleasant experience that the film has. Thanks to the many British voices in the film, the British animation, and the British environment, the film feels very homey.
As mentioned, this film is fairly predictable and does not offer many surprises. It plays out exactly how anyone would it expect it to. The film does not have a big message. The plot and its characters are fairly formulaic and honestly, there are a lot of attempts to get the audience members to laugh. Aside from Dug, Hognob, and Nooth, the rest of the characters are fairly simple and any arcs that happen are pretty foreseeable. Being a film about futbol, if you don't get some of the references that the film makes, some of the jokes and puns may not hit. This could potentially make the film less enjoyable to some.
While it does not do anything unique in regard to its plot, the film does exactly what it intends to. It's a silly underdog story filled with wordplay and goofy moments. It's not a typical Disney or Pixar film but it doesn't try to be. While not as good as other Aardman films, it is still a film that feels natural, and true to their style. It is a great and fun film that is worth checking out in theatres as a matinee.
Rating: 4.0/5.0 bowties
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