Early Man [rating=2]
Aardman Studios are one of the most creative and innovative animation studios of our time. With favourite projects such as ‘Chicken Run’, ‘Wallace & Gromit’ and it’s classic ‘Creature Comforts’ under their belt it’s not hard to see why. All were directed by Aardman legend Nick Park, so when I heard he would be directing a new feature it got me interested. I’ve followed the studio for as long as I can remember and is truly what got me to love animation way back in the day.
‘Early Man’ is a story of cavemen, but unlike many similar Palaeolithic era animated features we’ve seen in the past, it follows a Bronze Era vs Stone Era face-off… football match. I’ll be honest when I first watched this (having only saw initial marketing materials) I had no idea just how football focused this film was going to be. I thought that it was going to be just one part of the film as most initial marketing paints the film to be an epic quest and fight to win back the caveman’s land. But instead they really do just play a game of football. So there’s that.
I feel like there was a better story to be told here and while the plot just didn’t land for me, the voice acting and animation made Early Man at least a bit enjoyable. Eddie Redmayne does a great job as the “hero” of the film Dug, while Tom Hiddleston provides the voice of the villain Lord Noose (although his voice is almost unrecognisable) the ruler of the Bronze city. Unfortunately I found Lord Noose to be the the funniest part of the film and it’s largely down to the acting from Hiddleston, with most of it’s humour consisting of football tropes that were more cringe inducing than anything. The only decent joke in the film is already in it’s trailer so I couldn’t even really laugh at that. There’s even a few shots near the end of the film that aren’t stop-motion that were honestly terrible. Really bad and out of place looking.
All-in-all Nick Park’s ‘Early Man’ is the first Aardman film I really didn’t enjoy. Between it’s bland story, unoriginal jokes that fell flat almost every time and zero character development, the film felt like a chore during it’s 90 minute runtime.