MOVIE THEATER REVIEW: “Early Man” is voiced by Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything, The Danish Girl), Tom Hiddleston (The Avengers , Kong: Skull Island), Maisie Williams (Game of Thrones [TV series], The Falling), Timothy Spall (Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Mr. Turner), Richard Ayoade (The IT Crowd [TV series], Submarine), Nick Park, Mark Williams (Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Shakespeare in Love), Miriam Margolyes (The Age of Innocence, Romeo + Juliet), and Rob Brydon (Marion & Geoff [TV series], Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels). It was directed by Nick Park (Chicken Run, The Curse of the Were-Rabbit), who wrote it with Mark Burton (Gnomeo & Juliet, Shaun the Sheep Movie) and James Higginson (Hitman’s Guide to Housecleaning). Taking place at the dawn of man, cavemen are stripped away from their homeland when people using bronze weapons take it by force. In an attempt to get their home back, one caveman by the name of Dug (Redmayne) challenges the bronze society to a battle…of soccer.
Aardman is a company I’ve long grown up with. From “Chicken Run” to “Shaun the Sheep,” I’ve seen almost all of their films and have found them to be quite exceptional (save for a select few). When the trailer for “Early Man” dropped, however, I thought we were falling into dark territory; bad-movie territory. That’s probably not the best terminology for it, but my thoughts behind it are true. This film looked like a dull, bland piece of children’s fodder that boasted the clay models I grew up watching (I may be too harsh, but I mean well). It’s a sad thing to question new features that you may have loved as a kid. I thought that for a moment I had grown too old for Aardman, but one day I sucked it up and went to a screening. And you know what? It wasn’t that bad. Honestly, it’s a nice, entertaining flick for all families to have fun with. For the most part I enjoyed what I saw, and even laughed (a lot more than I thought I ever would). Obviously the claymation is superb. Aardman has perfected their craft, with their signature style of big-teeth, glass eyeballed characters. I loved the atmosphere they set up, and even though I didn’t understand the soccer references, it was still enjoyable. The voice acting that breathed life into these figures was also great, with talent from the likes of Eddie Redmayne, Tom Hiddleston, and Maisie Williams. I think they all stood out for the most part, especially Hiddleston, who’s voice was unrecognizable as the French enemy. As for the story, I’d say it was all right. In its entirety, “Early Man” spans about an hour and thirty minutes, sparing no expense to heavy character development or high stakes. It’s what you would expect from a stop-motion film that takes an eternity to make; the conflict and resolution are the main focuses, and for the most part I thought this was original in those aspects. Even though this was set in the caveman era, there were a lot of jokes and aspects that weren’t touched on before, and I give this release props for that. I just wish that I got more character development and story substance. We had a bad guy and an obstacle to overcome. How we got over that hill was by humor and wholesome themes that aren’t as fresh as the comedy. I like how this animated movie caters to both old and young audiences, but I also wish that it indulged itself in something more hearty; something that I can walk away with and think on. Besides the light story, the only other issue I have is the cringey uses of CGI, with examples being some backgrounds and full character models being animated. For a movie made for 2018 release, you’d think they’d have these technical problems worked out. Overall, “Early Man” deserves more credit than what the trailers suggest. It’s a nice, entertaining piece of cinema that all families should enjoy, and even takes me back to my childhood with Aardman flicks. If you are a fan of this company or stop-motion in general, I’d say give this one a shot. FINAL SCORE: 82%= Juicy Popcorn
Here is the trailer: