Verge Reviews: Early Man

It is actually kind of crazy for me that as I begin writing this I am reminded of the first film I watched in the cinema. That film was Chicken Run, which was Aardman Animation’s first feature film and now I’m sat here writing a review of their seventh feature film. I clearly owe a lot more to Chicken Run than I ever realised.

If you still aren’t sure that you’ve heard of Aardman Animation or have any clue of what I am talking about then let me give you some more information. Aardman is a British animation studio who still to this day, are making films using clay animation and stop-motion techniques. This includes films such as Chicken Run and The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists!. Although I believe there is one pair of characters they are best known for creating and that is the wonderful Wallace and Gromit. If you somehow managed to have never heard of Wallace and Gromit it follows a cheese-loving inventor (Wallace) and his silent, intelligent and anthropomorphic dog (Gromit). It sounds like madness if you’ve never seen or heard of it before but it was genius. Nick Park is the man who helped in the creation of these characters and has since gained four academy awards and five BAFTA awards from it.

Now before I end up spending the entire review talking about Aardman’s previous incredible work, I need to focus on Aardman’s latest project which was another new and creative idea. Sticking with the stop-motion animation, they set out to make a film that consists of the stone age, the bronze age and football. This is what is now known as Early Man. The story of Early Man is set in prehistoric time, where we follow a caveman named Dug (Eddie Redmayne) whose home is under siege and being claimed by Lord Nooth (Tom Hiddleston) leader of the bronze age city. Their feud for the claim of there home is fought out through a game of football, luckily Dug receives help training his tribe to become footballers by Goona (Maisie Williams).

Initially, you might be having the same reaction I had, questioning and wondering is it possible for this all to come together and work? After having the opportunity to attend an early press screening I’m so glad to tell you that it truly is possible. I will admit that when I saw one of the trailers for this film, I still wasn’t convinced and I was worried that this wouldn’t be a good Aardman film. The trailer did not give it justice, it was a lot more enjoyable than I had expected.

The film is filled with the typical and brilliant Aardman humour. Consisting of jokes that were clearly well thought out. Especially considering the setting is the stone age yet the jokes still managed to be relatable to the present. Even with the focus on football, which seems so strange at first but worked brilliantly, I found myself chuckling away throughout the film.

The only real issue I seemed to find was the pacing during the beginning of the film was a little strange, I believe it is because they want to get to the main idea and focus of the film so it’s easily forgotten once the film picks up again. There also were times it felt a little to exposition heavy or times where it reminded me of the plot repeatedly, I imagine it is to help keep kids focused. Don’t be fooled though, there is definitely humour for all ages to be found in this film. If you’ve enjoyed Aardman’s previous work this should also not disappoint.

Also while watching you should take a minute to remind yourself and just admire Aardman’s talent for stop motion animation. It is amazing to see what they are able to achieve with what now seems like such an outdated form of animation but yet it is still truly impressive. It may take them a long time to create films like this but Aardman still knows how to deliver an entertaining piece. A perfect choice if you are looking or needing an easy, funny, and enjoyable watch.

Rating 4/5

Early Man is released on Friday 26th January. Watch the trailer here