Early Man

Early Man

In Theatres: 
Feb 16, 2018
Running Time: 
89 minutes

Aardman Animations never fails to disappoint when it comes to their stop-motion animation. Their claymation style of using highly expressive emotions over simplistic character models is instantly recognizable and undeniably cute. Wallace & Gromit is without a doubt the studio’s most popular franchise, and the man responsible for it is creator Nick Park. After more than a decade of being out of the director’s seat, Park marks his return with Early Man, an entirely new story and cast of wonderful characters. While the plot and humor leaves more to be desired, the animation is top notch, reminding audiences that Aardman is still one of the best in the business.


Dug (Eddie Redmayne) and his fellow tribe of Stone Age cavemen live a simple life in the valley hunting rabbits. While everyone else is happy with their lifestyle, Dug believes they can do better, like say hunt mammoths. Before he gets the opportunity to test out his new strategy, however, the valley is invaded by Lord Nooth (Tom Hiddleston) and his army of Bronze Age soldiers, who force the Stone Age tribe to retreat to the dangerous badlands on the outskirts of the valley. Dug manages to infiltrate the Bronze Age’s city and learns that they’re huge fans of soccer. In an attempt to get back his tribe’s home, Dug challenges Lord Nooth to a soccer match in which the winner gets control of the valley despite the fact that Dug has no idea how to play the sport. It’s the Stone Age versus the Bronze Age in a match where everything is on the line and the stakes couldn’t be higher.


If you’ve seen any of Aardman’s previous films like Wallace & Gromit, Chicken Run, or Shaun the Sheep you’ll instantly recognize the wonderful style of claymation. Much like Wallace & Gromit, Early Man relies heavily on the adorable relationship of a man (Dug) and his pet. In this case it’s a wild boar named Hognob who behaves almost identically like a dog. That’s the thing about Early Man. It feels very much like an amalgamation of Aardman’s previous work.


As much as I loved the animation, its story felt rather mediocre. Much of the humor felt flat and forced. Hognob is wonderful, and there’s a great couple of scenes involving a messenger pigeon voiced by Rob Brydon that are hilarious, but the other characters were lacking. I’m a huge fan of Richard Ayoade so I was disappointed to see that he probably has less than 10 lines in the entire film. As wholesome as the film may be, Eddie Redmayne and Maisie Williams are rather bland as the main characters. It says something when the most entertaining character is a rock with no dialogue.


In an age where animated films are pushing the boundaries of storytelling, Early Man definitely feels left in the Stone Age. Yes, the animation is fantastic, but I wasn’t wowed by its characters. They’re not bad, but they’re not memorable either, culminating in a completely average movie-going experience.

Matt Rodriguez
Review by Matt Rodriguez
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