Award-winning animation studio Aardman returns to fine form with their latest blockbuster Early man.
Renowned for their trademark style of stop frame animation with previous epics Chicken Run (2000) and Wallace and Gromit films (’89, ’93, ’95, ’05, ’08) Early Man continues in the same vein, with their brand of humor synonymous with what we have come to expect.
Based on the stone age period the movie centres on an ancient tribe whose sole monotonous existence is hunting rabbits. The young and curious Dug (voiced by Eddie Redmayne) ponders whether there could be more to life and his inquiring mind spikes when he observes cave paintings displaying previous generations of his tribe kicking what looks like a football.
Any suggestions about the tribe potentially inventing the beautiful game and hinting at a more influential ancestry, nonetheless, is quickly discouraged by tribe leader chief Bobnar (Timothy Spall) insisting they continue on their linear path. However when their home suddenly becomes the focus of greedy tyrant Lord Nooth voiced brilliantly by Tom Hiddleston whose search for resources, leads him right to their front door. Dug bravely offers to challenge Lord Nooth and his men to a one-off football match where if they win they get their land back or risk losing everything.
Lord Nooth initially laughs off what he sees as a ridiculous proposal but then agrees after thinking about all the extra riches he would easily acquire. Fortunately Dug teams up with Goona (Maisie Williams) after accidentally overseeing her showcase her skills alone (females are not allowed in Nooth’s team) she agrees to share her knowledge of the game to him and his tribe making for an entertaining and passionate final act.
Stand out characters are as already mentioned Lord Nooth (Hiddleston) whose over the top accent is a camp exaggerated French. Dug’s pig looking sidekick Hognob also shines, who while desperate to get involved with playing football at any opportunity is constantly denied. There are scenes littered throughout which will definitely put a smile on your face.
The formulaic nature of the storyline may not be the most groundbreaking thing you will see but its humorous script, entertaining characters and painstakingly superb stop-frame animation more than make up for its shortfalls.
Early Man hits Cinemas January 26th 2018