When it comes to animation, Disney and Pixar will always reign supreme. While not everything they churn out is gold — both Cars sequels — Aardman Animations can’t help but continue their own winning streak. While they may be British, the humor is global and anyone is sure to have a jolly good time. Their new Early Man is no exception. With handyman Nick Park at the helm — after success with The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, Chicken Run, and the Oscar-winning Wallace & Gromit shorts — he makes sure to include the patented laughs with as much heart as we expect from our family entertainment these days.
Back in the Stone Age, a group of cavemen, led by Chief Bobnar (voiced by Timothy Spall), live deep in a lush valley where they hunt rabbits for sustenance. One night, the tribe is run out of their home by the Bronze Age army led by Lord Nooth (voiced by Tom Hiddleston). Dug (voiced by Eddie Redmayne) tries to defend their home and winds up being whisked away to the Bronze Age city. Here, he’s mistaken as a player at a football, err, soccer game and winds up needing the help of local vendor Goona (voiced by Maisie Williams), after challenging the Bronze team to a match. If they win, they get their valley back and if they lose, they’ll all be cast away working in the mines.
Filled with jaw-dropping stop-motion animation, hilarious antics, and plenty of spunky heart, Early Man may not quite aspire to the same heights as Shaun the Sheep Movie, but don’t be too quick to count it out. The biggest surprise was the fact that it’s a through-and-through sports film. The voice cast are having a grand time with Mark Burton and James Higginson’s screenplay, but it’s the animation that steals the show. Stunning from start to finish, Park has not lost his touch. It’s gorgeously animated and lovingly told. Early Man may have to run to keep up with the rest of this year’s animated features, but if 2018 is anything like last year, it’s bound to wind up nominated come awards season. Early Man is an early gift for the whole family.