Director: Nick Park
Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Tom Hiddleston, Maisie Williams, Timothy Spall, Richard Ayoade, Johnny Vegas
3 (Out Of 5) Globes
Plot: In the Stone Age, a group of cavemen led by Chief Bobnar (Timothy Spall) live in a valley and hunt rabbits far away from the hoard of scary creatures above them.
But one night the tribe is driven out of their home by the Bronze Age, led by Lord Nooth (Tom Hiddleston). A young member of Bobnar’s posse Dug (Eddie Redmayne) follows the army, and, through a series of bizarre incidents, ends up challenging the local team to a soccer match.
If Dug’s team wins, they get their valley back. But if they lose, they will work for Lord Nooth in the mines forever.
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Review: “Early Man” is really, really bizarre.
But while you can easily say that about every entry into Aardman’s stellar oeuvre, “Early Man” never quite feels as confident in both its premise or the world that it has set up.
It jumps from trying to get us invested in the soccer match between the Bronze and Stone Age to increasingly silly quips, puns, and visual flourishes. Unfortunately, these jokes are very hit and miss, though, especially as “Early Man” feels much more skewered to a younger audience.
But, while “Early Man” fails to come close to the heights of “Wallace & Gromit,” “Chicken Run,” “The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists!,” or “Shaun The Sheep Movie,” there’s just something innately charming about its stop-motion that stops you from ever feeling too disappointed.
Plus, some of the film’s jokes really do land. Most notably the continued reappearance of an oversized duck, Rob Brydon’s Message Bird and commentators and a massage scene that becomes increasingly ridiculous and hilarious. In fact, anything featuring Hognob immediately produces at least a smile.
All of which renders “Early Man” more than watchable, if still short of Aardman’s very best.