Early Man review

2018’s first theatrical animated film.

My opinion right after watching the movie

My opinion right after the film is that it’s extremely generic, and is one of Aardman’s weakest. I wished that 2018 started on a better note with theatrical animated films. There’s nothing to really dislike or hate in the film, and there is the Aardman charm that somewhat saves it, but this film is a bit too small and simplistic for my liking.

Production

I found no information on the production of this film.

Story

The film starts with the typical crash of the meteor on prehistoric Earth, but while it did wipe out the dinosaurs, it spared some of the caveman who lived in a village. War Elephants cause them to leave their village, and to the volcanic badlands, where Dug (Eddie Redmayne) falls into a cart, which separates him from everyone, as the cart is taken to Nooth’s city, which is very evolutionary.

Dug is mistaken as a football player, after dodging security guards (due to not submitting any money), and after his cover is blown, he is taken to Lord Nooth (Tom Hiddleston), who declares that he has no home, and that the Stone Age is over. Dug makes a proposition to challenge the champions in order to get his home back, and if it fails, his village with work for them forever.

He runs back to his village to tell them the good news, and this of course leads to a montage scene of them learning how to play football. The ball ends up getting ruined, and Dug is still inspired, due to their ancestors inventing Football, but Bobnar (Timothy Spall) tells him that they’re better off in the Badlands, since at least the tribe is still together.

Dug and his boar Hognob (Nick Park) sneak into the city in order to steal a ball, and is soon assisted by Goona (Maisie Williams), who is resentful due to girls being prohibited from playing football. They are soon caught by security, but end up escaping, and she helps the village learn how to play football, and how to play as a team, since the others each think they are a star instead of a team.

This newfound confidence is quickly shot own when Dug is taken to a cave to read the manuscripts that his ancestors were extremely incompetent, and lost every match they played. This causes him to forfeit for his team, and to give the village over.

The entire team soon shows up, and is encouraged by Bobnar that they need to play the game, as he showed them that there is more to them than they ever initially believed. They initially are losing 3-1 by the half-point, and then tie it up in the second half of the game.

Nooth ends up incapacitating the referee and takes his place, to make sure that the Stone Age team loses. They tried to do a fake-out death when the chief hits his sine on the pole, but then reminds us that he’s alive by him farting. The pig replaces him, and what you expect to happen, happens. The Stone Agers end up winning the match, Nooth is arrested, everyone gets their money back, the village gets to keep their valley, and both teams end up running from some sort of duck.

I will say that there’s a lot of pleasantries in the film, but at it’s core, it is extremely predictable and generic. While it does have some of the Aardman charm, I was expecting it to be a lot more. The story is ridiculously thin, and nothing is really that developed, though there aren’t huge issues in the story, since at least it knows it’s simplistic, the heartfelt message is strong, and the humour isn’t bad.

Characters

I can’t really talk much about the characters in order to justify putting them in their separate sections. All of them are just generic character tropes that has no personalized characterization and depth behind them. Nothing to really rant about, but nothing to really dive into, which is really disappointing. Way too one-note.

Animation

The animation is the typical Aardman animation, which means that it’s great. I love how they use the textures for different type of things, like the location, hair, and the clothing. The motion behind the animation was very good as well. Nothing is really revolutionary or mindblowing, but it’s still great to look at.

Music

Nothing to really comment about regarding the movie. Generic, unmemorable, but somewhat suitable.

Reception at Release

When the film was released on January 26th, 2018, it received critical acclaim, though many considered that while it was not one of Aardman’s best, it contained a lot of the good qualities from Aardman. Regarding the box office, it made $53 million with a $50 million budget, regarding it as a flop.

Score

Story: 6/10

Characters: 5/10

Animation: 8/10

Music: 6/10

25/40 = 63%

3 thoughts on “Early Man review

  1. Yeah, generic is probably the best way to describe it. There is a Bollywood film called Lagaan which has pretty much the same principle except it’s a cricket game between the Indians and English rather than a soccer game between the cavemen and the Bronze Agers.

  2. I thought you hated Aardman? I remember your review of Shaun the Sheep was quite scathing. I get the feeling this is a lot funnier over in Britain than here. It was fine but one of their weaker films I was a little disappointed. If you want to learn more about the production I got to interview Nick Park and animator Merlin Crossingham for rotoscopers.com which was cool.

    1. I don’t hate Aardman, but I just think it’s the humour that I just don’t personally get. There is definitely a lot worse than Aardman out there, and I respect that they stick with their own style, unlike most other studios. I’ll definitely check out the interview; thanks.

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