Out Now On-Demand
Real heroes don't settle for bronze.
Stop-frame animated film set at the dawn of time by four-time Oscar-winning Aardman director Nick Park (Curse of the Were-Rabbit). Features the voices of Eddie Redmayne and Tom Hiddleston.
Pint-sized Dug (Redmayne) isn't really cut out to be a caveman. But when disaster strikes and his tribe is driven from its homeland by the mighty Bronze Age, it's Dug, the most inept of the tribe, who proves he's got what it takes and leads them to victory.
Adventure, Animated, Comedy, Kids & Family
Rating: PG Coarse language
Nick Park returns to stop-motion animation, directing a preposterous prehistoric family adventure full of goofy fun. Charming in its irreverent silliness, it’ll likely appeal more to younger kids than adults expecting Wallace & Gromit layers of satirical appeal. The nutty narrative has cave-dweller Dug (Eddie Redmayne) and Hognob (voiced by Park himself) try to save their Stone Age tribe’s valley from the Bronze Age expansion plans of the villainous Lord Nooth, (Tom Hiddleston in full-tilt fun mode).
Fans of off-the-wall British humour will dig that saving Dug’s tribe largely involves football matches, whilst the un-soccered will enjoy the wealth of slapstick silliness, sight-gags, pratfalls and general buffoonery brought to life and timed to perfection, one frame at a time. The lovingly hand-crafted characters get a first-rate voice cast (featuring the likes of Timothy Spall, Maisie Williams, Richard Ayoade, Miriam Margolyes, Rob Brydon, and Johnny Vegas), but the top-notch craft on display is let down by clichéd characters and a plot so predictable it could’ve been lifted from a cave painting.
It’s a shame so many jokes don’t land or feel like lazy puns, but there are plenty of great visual gags. Kids who enjoyed Aardman movies Shaun The Sheep, The Pirates! and Arthur Christmas will have a ball, while Wallace & Gromit and Chicken Run fans will miss the sly adult storytelling threaded through far more thought-out storylines. Take the kids, enjoy the stunning handmade animation, forgive the lazy characterisations and Palaeolithic plot, and Early Man is a fun family trip to the pictures for all ages.
The Times (UK)
The Guardian (UK)
Stuff.co.nz (James Croot)
Sydney Morning Herald
Newsroom.co.nz (Darren Bevan)
Light hearted fun
Early Man is short and sweet at just under 1hr 15mins. It is a fun and happy film filled with plenty of funny and heartwarming moments. Unfortunately it does sail under the bar set by previous Aardman films such as Chicken Run, The Curse of the Were Rabbit and Shaun the Sheep. Whilst it is funny and at times quite clever it does feel like it has lost some of the charm and wit from previous films. Also there is slightly more reliance on things that aren't entirely stop motion whereas in the past they have cleverly worked their way around similar scenarios and kept it all clay. With that said, everything in the foreground is always done in some of their best animation yet and it doesn't fail to impress. Some of the settings, particularly the valley, are also extremely well done. This is definitely a good one for the kids and if you're a fan of Aardman you should enjoy it. I look forward to their next endeavour; 'Farmageddon' (Shaun the Sheep).