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Midvale Journal

Dan's Review: "Early Man" a prehistoric pleasure

Feb 16, 2018 07:17PM ● By Dan Metcalf

Early Man - © 2018 StudioCanal.

Early Man (StudioCanal)

Rated PG for rude humor and some action.

Starring (voices of) Eddie Redmayne, Tom Hiddleston, Maisie Williams, Timothy Spall, Richard Ayoade, Selina Griffiths, Johnny Vegas, Mark Williams, Gina Yashere, Simon Greenall, Rob Brydon, Kayvan Novak, Miriam Margolyes, Nick Park.

Written by Mark Burton, James Higginson and Nick Park.

Directed by Nick Park.



The computer age has made life much easier for most of us. For animators, it’s been virtual money tree, with several feature films released on a regular basis. The painstaking process of hand drawing every frame is now a cinematic unicorn. Even more painstaking is the process of animating with clay, as Nick Park (Wallace and Gromit, Chicken Run, Shaun the Sheep, etc.) does. Park’s preferred method of telling stories with clay has served him well, as he occupies the only corner of the market. His latest film is Early Man, farce about prehistoric civilization and soccer.

It’s the story of Dug (Eddie Redmayne) and his tribe of cave people who live in peace until they are invaded by Lord Nooth (Tom Hiddleston) and his band of Bronze Age marauders, intending to mine their peaceful glade for more iron deposits. Nooth effectively bans the tribe to the badlands, but Dug stows away back to the Bronze city where he discovers the Bronze-folk’s biggest passion: soccer (or football if you insist on using the proper British term). Dug also meets the lovely Goona (Maisie Williams), who longs to play soccer, but is forced from the pitch by prehistoric misogyny. Goona agrees to return with Dug back to the badlands and teach his tribe how to play soccer, so that they can win their land back by defeating Nooth’s superior players in a winner-takes-all match. The results are predictable, but fun.

Early Man is vintage Nick Park, complete with an odd assortment of very British characters, a cute sidekick animal, a stuffy, pretentious villain, not to mention plenty of puns and sight gags that utilize contemporary culture (like soccer and technology). Nick Park knows what he’s doing and he does it well, producing enough laughs to keep kids and parents entertained to the very end.

Yes, some of the humor is silly, but that’s okay in a world where folks take themselves a little too serious. So go ahead, take the kids, sit back and enjoy Early Man. It’s the modern thing to do.

Early Man Trailer