Set at the dawn of time, when prehistoric creatures and woolly mammoths roamed the earth, Early Man tells the story of Dug, along with sidekick Hognob as they unite his tribe against a mighty enemy Lord Nooth and his Bronze Age City to save their home.
An asteroid collides with the prehistoric Earth, causing the extinction of the planet's dinosaurs, but sparing a tribe of cavemen living near the impact site. Finding a roughly spherical chunk of the asteroid that is too hot to touch, the cavemen begin to kick it around and invent the game of football. Many years later during the Stone Age, a young caveman named Dug (Eddie Redmayne) lives in the village with the chief Bobnar (Timothy Spall) and many other cavemen such as Asbo, (Johnny Vegas), Gravelle (Gina Yashere), Treebor (Richard Ayoade), Magma (Selina Griffiths), Barry (Mark Williams), Grubup (Richard Webber), Thongo (Simon Greenall) and Eemak (Simon Greenall). One day, Dug suggests to Bobnar that they should try hunting woolly mammoths instead of rabbits, but Bobnar brushes him off..
I Predict a Riot
Written by Simon Rix (as James Simon Rix), Nick Baines (as Nicholas Matthew Baines), Andrew White (as Andrew Robert White), Nick Hodgson (as Nicholas James David Hodgson), Ricky Wilson (as Charles Richard Wilson)
Performed by Kaiser Chiefs (as The Kaiser Chiefs)
Published by Concord Music Publishing
Courtesy of Polydor UK Ltd./B-Unique Records
Under license from Universal Music Operations Ltd. See more »
Even with some strong gags and enjoyable moments, it's only average.
I might be one of the few people on this planet that saw this over Black Panther. Sorry.
I really enjoy Aardman's work, especially from shows like "Shaun the Sheep" and "Wallace & Gromit". Their claymation is unique, the slapstick is inventive, the British wit is keen, the characters are endearing and the stories are funny. Only a few of these qualities could describe Early Man, a movie that's pleasant and wacky enough but felt rather uninspired. Which pains me, because I know Aardman could do better.
What are the positives? First off, the claymation has the same offbeat charm as almost every Aardman film ever, so expect that. A few jokes are inventive and got some giggles outta me (like the replay footage in a soccer game is a literal puppet show. Whenever the caveman team wins, the puppeteers wildly exaggerate what happened). Some of the details of how the cavemen live their lives was amusing. The pig was adorable and the end picks up its pace with an entertaining soccer game. Nick Park has a knack for world-building, and this was no different.
But I think that's where the main positives end. What shocked me the most was how formulaic the story was, since you could predict what EVERY SINGLE PLOT POINT was if you've seen enough animated movies. Some of the gags are clever and quirky, but a good chunk of them are also lazy and tired. It seems to rely on dumb puns ("looks like the caveman caved!") and overused physical humor over genuinely witty jokes. The "look at that caveman! He's so dumb!" running gag got old after the first 15 minutes and any chances for good absurdist humor (giant man-eating duck) lost its steam along the way. The CGI backgrounds look tacky and dull compared to the claymation, so it doesn't fit. The characters are likeable but also stereotypical (hero wants to save land, villain loves money, love interest is good at soccer, chief leader is cautious, sidekicks are dumb yet useful), just like the majority of this movie.
But it's not a painful watch. It's sometimes funny and amusing, but with every good moment you still have a thin premise, predictable plot and cliches to move the story forward as an amiable but weak experience. It's the type of movie you could show your kids on a Sunday afternoon or on an airplane, but the eccentricity, wit and creativity just isn't enough to make it worth seeing by yourself in a theater. You might smile, but it won't stick to your mind. It's not painfully average, but it isn't Wallace and Gromit. 5.5/10
I love that Shaun the Sheep 2 teaser though!
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