(3 / 5)
Aardman don’t make animated movies like others. They are not Pixar, Disney, Dreamworks or Laika. They specialise in stop-motion and are known for their simple characters and plots but packing them with charm and creativity.
They take the familiar and layer it with the fantastical that animation can bring to things. In Early Man it is essentially a turf war story over a game of football, but told in the age of cavemen. Our story opens in Manchester when dinosaurs were still walking around and cavemen were also present. A meteor hits the earth and wipes out the dinosaurs and the cavemen merely get pushed back by the blast (I feel there are some scientific inaccuracies here!). The meteor is rather perfectly round shaped and the cavemen develop the game of football and make their home in the crater it causes. All this information is achieved without dialogue.
A few years later and the descendants of the original tribe that lived there are happily living their lives by hunting rabbits. The young Dug however believes that they are capable of more, like hunting mammoths. But one day big mammoths come marching in with plating on them, people get out and one of them is Lord Nooth that proclaims “The age of stone is over. So begins the age of bronze.” Dug’s tribe is powerless to fight them off but through story conveniences he learns about football and challenges the bronze people to a game.
Aardman have always been able to come up with creative visuals within their story. For example how does Cavemen alarm system work without electricity? Or where do sneakers come from? What exercise equipment can you get from this early age? There are answers to these and more and they’re all funny.
Behind the puppets are some stars but they way they are cast and perform you would never guess. The performances themselves area good no matter who’s behind them. Some characters are able to have a mix a sharp wit and being a dullard the next moment. Other characters are more basic and have a few lines to read and they don’t really go through an arc, but they read their lines well. But back to the matter at hand, I would have never guessed that Eddie Redmayne played Dug or Tom Hiddleston Nooth or it was Maisie Williams playing Goona. I guess it’s a testament to their talent and versatility.
The story is simple to grasp, the characters are not complex and everything has a lot of effort put into it but refined craftsmen. Young children will almost definitely be entertained by the falling down, expressive faces and easy narrative. Adults will find enough wit and winks to keep them happy in their seats during the run time.