Film reviewKaylee Brewster
All audiences should get some kicks from the soccer-centric film “Early Man,” even if it’s not the best film Aardman Animations has produced.
Aardman Animations is responsible for claymation films such as “Chicken Run,” “Wallace and Gromit” and “Shaun the Sheep.” This time, they go back in time to tell a story from the Stone Age.
Dug (Eddie Redmayne) and his tribe of cave men happily live in a green valley hunting rabbits. Their world goes topsy-turvy when Lord Nooth (Tom Hiddleston) a leader in the Bronze Age, comes to take away their home and mine it.
Dug challenges Nooth to a game of football (or soccer, as it’s called in the U.S.). The only problem? The tribe has never played the sport.
The Aardman style of claymation is on full display, from how characters look to the way they move. Their round bulging eyes, goofy grins and rotund bodies will endear even the most primitive cave man (or woman) to audiences. The visual flow isn’t hampered by the film’s stop-action creation as characters move seamlessly — even in slow-motion.
Aardman also brings its distinct style of humor. There are jokes for kids with funny slips and falls and other visual and sound gags. There are jokes for adults with pop culture and history references. Then there are small details that earn laughs for their cleverness, such as a character who uses a beetle shaped like an electric razor to shave.
All these aspects make “Early Man” a prime example of Aardman’s mastery of animation and humor, which in turn makes it an enjoyable film.
However, other aspects are a little lacking. The plot is predictable, and so are the characters. It’s fun to watch the good guys and villains interact, but audiences have seen their type 100 times in 100 different movies. “Early Man” could have been better if some of these details were slightly tweaked and characters were developed a bit more.
The other downside to “Early Man” is in how it relates to U.S. audiences. Football — especially how U.K. and European fans interact with it — is the focus of this film and at the heart of many of the jokes. Those parts of the film might soar over some American heads instead of into the goal.
There are some things “Early Man” could have done to evolve into a better film, but it does enough to keep it fun and entertaining. Although our relatives across the pond might be enjoying it a bit more thanks to the football … er, soccer, references.