In the current day of snappy computer programs whipping out sophisticated effects in a flash, it’s endearing to see studios such as Aardman stubbornly persevering with stop frame animation. With each animator labouring all day to complete a mere 3 to 4 seconds of footage by knock-off time, I can’t help but take my hat off to them…even if the finished product is a little underwhelming.
Set at the dawn of time, EARLY MAN tells the story of Dug the caveman, whose simple tribe is forced to do battle with Bronze Age City in an effort to save their home. It’s Stone Age vs Bronze Age! But this is no clash of rocks vs swords…the battle takes place in the form of a football match (or soccer to you).
The plot is simple and cute, with predictable messages of family, friendship and sticking up for what’s right. It’s far from historically accurate, but that’s no biggie. The humour is decidedly random at times (giant badlands duck anyone?) and it’s not always successful, but there are some laugh out loud moments.
Visually EARLY MAN looks great. Kudos to the animators (who arguably have the most laborious job on the planet). The puppetry is top notch, and the few added CGI elements don’t clash with the revered traditional stop motion look.
While heavily football-focussed and riddled with English in-jokes (Aardman is a UK company after all), EARLY MAN makes an effort to still appeal to the less football-frenzied viewer. As someone with zero interest in “the world’s most popular sport”, I was kept entertained by a loveable pet hog and a lucky bunny rabbit – both of whom add generic cute-factor and a few chuckles.
The great voice work of many recognisable British personalities help keep things fresh and entertaining. However, the predicable plot, the often too-random humour and the heavy handed love of football result in EARLY MAN being a fun but forgettable family friendly flick.
I rate it 6.5 stars.