Kings Of The Stone Age
♦ Tripwire’s editor-in-chief JOEL MEADOWS takes a look at the latest Aardman film, Early Man, directed by Nick Park…
Director: Nick Park
Voices: Tom Hiddleston, Maisie Williams, Eddie Redmayne, Timothy Spall, Miriam Margoyles
Nick Park hasn’t directed a film since 2005’s Wallace and Gromit: The Curse Of The Wererabbit so a new movie with him at the helm is a little bit of an event. Early Man is a drama featuring a group of stone age men including Dug (the voice of Eddie Redmayne) who are forced to play football against Lord Nooth’s Bronze Age tribe to save their home valley. Nooth is voiced by Tom Hiddleston while Game of Thrones’ Maisie Williams is Goona (see what they did there?), a female football player who joins forces with Dug’s tribe to outwit Nooth’s evil machinations.
Despite the fact that I am not really interested in football, Early Man is charming, clever and inventive. There are lots of visual and verbal jokes that help to connect with the audience, or Easter eggs. Early Man has a few nice nods to Ray Harryhausen too as Park has talked about the huge admiration he has always felt for the special effects master.
Visually, Early Man is pretty impressive too although sometimes the CGI does jar a little with the clay animation. The voice talent is very strong here too: Timothy Spall as tribal chief Bobnar is exceptional as is Hiddleston as the evil but ultimately incompetent Lord Nooth. Redmayne makes a likeable young protagonist too and Williams shows that she can do more than just petulant teenager.
Early Man also feels uniquely British which is something that Nick Park excels at in his best work. He has brought the world of Dug and co to life with the sizeable assistance of the team at Aardman with pizazz and imagination. In these days of $200m Marvel and DC blockbusters dominating the cinemas, it is endearing to see something like Early Man, which feels handmade and handcrafted, get a release at the cinema.
Released a little early for school half term in the UK, hopefully Early Man will engage audiences looking for a charming children’s film. It proves that all these years on, Park definitely hasn’t lost his deft touch for animation.
Early Man is out now in UK cinemas.