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Early Man review - A prehistoric underdog tale

by Andrew Siddall. Published Sat 03 Feb 2018 12:41
Dug and Hognob in Early Man
Dug and Hognob in Early Man

Animation guru’s Aardman has made an impressive name for itself over the years with some incredible features on both the big and small screen, from everything such as Creature Comforts and Shaun the Sheep to Chicken Run and The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists, and of course their crowning jewels Wallace & Gromit.

Early Man is their latest full length caper and tells the tale of a small isolated group of rabbit-hunting cavemen and women who pit themselves against the unstoppable force of the Bronze Age to save their home with a good old game of football.

Director Nick Park has done some incredible feats of stop motion over the years, and this is no exception. The attention to detail in each frame is stunning. The world on screen looks like a real place filled with believable characters.

The work done for each of the main characters is amazing. With Dug, voiced by Eddie Redmayne, every time he is on screen, his hair moves and flows with the wind. The same can be said for his four legged sidekick Hognob (voiced by Nick Park himself), as well as the flowing cloaks and shirts that many of the characters wear.

In terms of story, this is very simple. It’s a story that’s been done countless times to varying degree and Early Man is definitely on the positive side, although it does play it too safe and does become predictable. It’s a story that everyone can enjoy, whether you are a long time Aardman fan or a newcomer.

Eddie Redmayne’s Dug is a great character full of optimism and positivity and his family are a load of fun. Keep your ears peeled for cameos from the likes of Gina Yashere, Fonejacker’s Kayvan Novak Johnny Vegas and Richard Ayoade.

Game of Thrones alumni Maisie Willaims also lends her talents to the film as football-loving Goona, whose dream of playing on the pitch becomes a reality as she help the tribe prepare for the upcoming game.

The villain of the movie is a French ruler called Lord Nooth, voiced with gleeful delight by Thor: Ragnarok’s Tom Hiddleston. Lord Nooth is greedy and desires Dug’s valley to mine for metallic ore and makes a dastardly addition to Aardman’s colourful gallery of antagonists.

Like all Aardman animations, this is a comedy that’s very much tailored towards the British sense of humour, containing daft slapstick for the younger viewers and subtle jokes for the grown-ups. This doesn’t quite have the same kind of belly laughs that we would usually expect, but it provides a great bit of light entertainment that amuses everyone.

This is arguably the biggest film from Aardman to date, with incredibly huge sets that stand almost three meters tall. The photorealistic CGI enhances everything tenfold, gifting the audience with breath-taking scenery that could fool even the most trained eyes until the characters or fifty foot ducks appear.

The soundtrack is incredible, brought by The Martian’s Harry Gregson-Williams and Tom Howe. The choice of pop songs is a joy to hear and fit perfectly with the visuals, providing an absorbing atmosphere that many live action films fail to achieve.

Overall, this may not be the best Aardman has to offer, but gives the audience an easy to follow story with some likable characters and brilliant visuals. This is a fun family flick that everyone can enjoy.

Purple Revolver rating: 4/5.



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