Stop-motion Early Man is no king of the Stone Age

Henrietta Strickland
February 18, 2018

You can't strike gold - or bronze - every time. He was there with other members of the film's team from Aardman Studios headquarters in Bristol, England. A sports movie is a sports movie, and you don't have to know the game to love the hell out of this film.

Since we're already on an alternate-history bent, it turns out Dug's ancestors actually invented the game (these being early Brits, they actually call it football), though the cavemen aren't almost as skilled as their cocky, upper-crust opponents.

Thus, "Early Man" becomes a kind of stony Bronze Age "The Longest Yard", with the primitives as an "Early Man"-chester United".

I'm not sure Early Man has some grand moral or message, or that it needs to.

"Early Man" is not groundbreaking by any means. Then, one of the cavemen Doug (Redmayne) challenges an evil leader (Hiddleston) to a game of football to decide the fate of their land.

"Game of Thrones" Maisie Williams plays Goona. In one scene, Dug is hit in the face with a large fruit.

Dug the Caveman and his best friend Hognob in a scene from "Early Man".

Moviegoers can judge the results when "Early Man" opens on Friday, Feb. 16.

The setting here is that moment in prehistoric time when primitive man and a version slightly more advanced existed on earth at the same time (they call it the Bronze Age in the movie).

You can see cavemen playing soccer in Early Man, now in theaters.

One day, the tribe's peaceful existence is disrupted by the arrival of a Bronze Age army led by Lord Nooth (Tom Hiddleston), who orders the cavemen be banished to the badlands while he mines the area for more bronze.

And if Aardman keeps that sense of humor and charm that separates itself from most movies, Park is confident that the art of stop-motion will endure, despite ever-burgeoning technological advancements in the field of computer-generated animation.

"There's a certain element of finding the voice with them, isn't there?"

"I remember Eddie saying, 'How old is Dug?'" Park says. "I sort of went, 'About 15, ' and suddenly he went into a younger (voice)". Others like Timothy Spall and Rob Brydon (who has the film's least-obvious laugh line near the end of the film, a blissfully stupid joke about "comedy gold" that killed me) do solid work here, but truthfully anybody could be doing the voices - it's Park's show, and he's often demonstrated that he doesn't need no stinkin' words to make great cinema. "Even StudioCanal (the French production partners on "Early Man") preferred the French". "I'm almost 32!" Luckily, Dug meets a Bronze Age girl, Goona (Maisie Williams), who gravitates to the gender-inclusive cave team and teaches them a few moves. Hiddleston, long a great villain in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, jumps at the chance to do a amusing voice and chew scenery as Nooth, giving Early Man a fittingly over-the-top nefarious presence and a proper foil for Dug to overcome. "I think it came from where Nick set it". That's ironic because, in the meticulous world of stop-motion animation, rarely does anything happen that fast. In technical terms, it's a far cry from writer-director Nick Park's early "Wallace & Gromit" shorts from the late 1980s and 1990s, when Park himself shot the stories on film and even had a big hand, so to speak, in making the characters move. But while it's a tremendous amount of work, he says having Crossingham and Belcher to oversee much of the animation on the studio floor was a tremendous help. "So when we heard, and saw a trailer for "One Million Years B.C.", I couldn't believe that, that people were with dinosaurs - it was like what I'd always imagined, and it was there on the screen".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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