Early Man is the latest film from the wonderful Aardman Animations company, unrivalled for traditional stop-motion techniques, endearing characterisation and silly, often, visual jokes that enthral children and adults alike. It is directed by Nick Park, best known as the creator of the beloved animated duo Wallace and Gromit.
It is set in prehistoric times (all Park’s films seem celebrate a sort of cosy Englishness, wherever they are set) where a tribe of primitive hunters are displaced from their homes by emissaries from a distant empire that has mastered bronze-making. However, a tribesman named Dug (voiced by Eddie Redmayne) tries to win his home back by challenging the invaders to a game of soccer. Tom Hiddleston, Maisie Williams, Timothy Spall, and Richard Ayoade also lend their voices.
Early Man is a Neolithic narrative shot through with the old-fashioned earnestness of all of Park’s claymation films. He’s taken a story of flint-wielding cavemen clashing with heavily armoured Bronze Age warriors and turned it into a tale of an epic soccer rivalry between good stout English folks and fancy puffed-up Frenchmen. It’s not complicated stuff, but it’s animated with such pizzazz (Park really shows off with the crowd scenes, which must have been immensely complicated to create in stop-motion) and told with the right blend of silly, knowing humour. Dug is achingly earnest throughout, but it wouldn’t be a Park movie if he wasn’t.
This film has been adjudged at level PG (Parental Guidance) which means that it is for general viewing, but some scenes may be unsuitable for young children. A PG film should not unsettle a child aged around eight or older. Children of any age may watch, but parents are advised to consider whether the content may upset younger, or more sensitive, children. This film was given a PG because of ‘infrequent mild bad language, mild threat’.
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