Early Man (2018)

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Critic Consensus: Early Man isn't quite as evolved as Aardman's best work, but still retains the unique visuals and sweet humor that have made the studio a favorite among animation enthusiasts.

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In this stop-motion animated comedy set in prehistoric times, a tribe of primitive hunters are displaced from their homes by emissaries from a distant empire that has mastered bronze-making. However, a tribesman named Dug (voice of Eddie Redmayne) tries to win his home back by challenging the invaders to a game of soccer. Directed by Nick Park, best known as the creator of the beloved animated duo Wallace and Gromit. Tom Hiddleston, Maisie Williams, Timothy Spall, and Richard Ayoade also lend their voices.

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Critic Reviews for Early Man

All Critics (159) | Top Critics (29)

The story is thin, allowing little room for imaginative engagement, and the comedy uninspired. Early Man contains a nice anti-sexism message, but delivers it half-heartedly.

Feb 22, 2018 | Full Review…

Early Man is not so much a return to form as it is a long overdue comeback -- and a welcome one at that.

Feb 20, 2018 | Full Review…

Aardman is a haven for creatures that hail from other species but match us or even outstrip us in proficiency and grace. Early Man, though, is stuffed with men and women...whereas the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air are reduced to extras.

Feb 16, 2018 | Full Review…

At least there's director Nick Park's playful Silly Putty visual imagination to take your mind off just how thin the story is.

Feb 16, 2018 | Rating: B- | Full Review…

Mostly, "Early Man" plays like an overstuffed episode of "The Flintstones," riffing on caveman accessories, as well as soccer fandom and hooliganism.

Feb 16, 2018 | Full Review…
CNN.com
Top Critic

The pun-fueled dialogue is a perfect match for the visual ugliness.

Feb 16, 2018 | Rating: 0/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Early Man

½

Very sweet stop-motion animation film with a story by the numbers but a lot of adorable details while being a sports film at the same time, covering a pre-historic football match. It's mostly the spoofs on modern day details that work fantastically here, the story is predictable but engaging enough. A few more jokes instead of slapstick would have been great. Still, very enjoyable.

Jens S.
Jens S.

Super Reviewer

½

Aardman is an animation studio that has impressed me since my childhood years. From Chicken Run to Flushed Away, or even Shaun the Sheep, which is a recent favorite of mine, I was very much looking forward to viewing their recent outing. While it may be one of their weakest of the movies they've produced in my opinion, I still got a kick out of it. So much effort is put into these films that it's very difficult to talk down about them. Sure, the style itself may not be for everyone, but notion that actual cinematography is used in creating a film like this is astounding to me. Early Man isn't a movie that will be recognized as one of the best films of 2018 and nor should it, but these movies don't receive enough recognition. Here's why I believe it deserves your time. Set around the plot of a young boy in Dug and his companion in Hognob, they stumble into a city of Bronze, ruled by Lord Nooth. Coming from the cavemen and women lineage, this is a surprise to them. Learning that this city has developed the game of futball (American Soccer in today's terms) from their very own ancestors, they decide to challenge this city for the right to their land back. This plot is very silly and by the numbers, so I wouldn't say it's a very adult film, but as a movie that has a goal of impressing children, while delivering some adult humour, it works tremendously. I found myself shrugging my shoulders at the sheer notion that a sport was the story that fuelled this film, but that being said, it's a solid little movie overall. As aforementioned, these movies look incredible in terms of how they're made. The animation style is to be commended no matter what the quality of the film itself turns out to be. From the visual gags to the unique characteristics, this is a movie that relies heavily on whether or not the audience can buy into the look of the movie. I found myself laughing at background elements or the way something moved, and it was clear that the intentions of the filmmakers were to accomplish just that. If for nothing else, Early Man is a wonderfully shot and animated feature film. Where the film started to lose me was how the plot itself became one of the most predictable things that I've witnessed in a while. The first act presents some very clever jokes and the characters are all likable, but once the real plot kicks in throughout the second act, I was hoping for a much more clever finale. Sadly, the third act of this movie is simply whether or not our heroes will be successful in beating this team. While the game itself and characters involved are all likable elements, I just found myself slightly uninterested. Still, there's a lot more to like than dislike here. In the end, Early Man tries very hard to be multiple things. A spoof of the tales of the stone age, a children's generic and safe storyline, and almost a political statement at the same time. While all of these elements work, I found them to be an odd mixture for this movie. Early Man is a film that I highly enjoyed from start to finish, but the overly simplistic story took away from what could've been a great film. The setting, animation, jokes, and characters all drove this movie in the right direction, but that's not quite enough when you know where everything is headed all the time. Early Man may be aimed at kids, but there's a little something in here for everyone. Disappointing for a fan like myself, but still a solid movie.

KJ Proulx
KJ Proulx

Super Reviewer

Not a great deal of effort story-wise in this latest Aardman Studio offering, but if the cute factor is enough for you and your kiddies, then this entry won't do so badly. The gist of the thing is a punt at the near religious fervor of soccer fandom, and that does get a few chuckles. the best bit is a bird that delivers messages over distances. Adults fans of Aardman will miss the usual depth of humor though, and the underdone quality lacks verve.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer

½

It's not quite one of their bests but even a mid-level Aardman movie still presents enough pleasures to justify one viewing. Early Man is in that big-eyed, big-toothed stop-motion clay animation style they're renowned for, so it makes even more visual sense that we're following cavemen. What I wasn't expecting was that the entire movie would be a sports film about the cavemen facing the team of elite soccer players of the Bronze Age. Once that realization settled in, I began lowering my expectations, which lowered further from the less imaginative use of comedy. I chuckled here and there but this is a comedy that relies much upon slapstick. It's at its best when it veers off into strange tangents or really doubles down on its absurdities, like a pig posing as a masseuse or a recording pigeon that acts out its messages. The character work is pretty minimal and relies upon a lot of stock characters, with the supporting players given one trait or less. While lacking in some areas, Early Man is still an amusing story that has its moments of goofy whimsy even amidst the sports clichés. I especially enjoyed Tom Hiddleston's vocal performance as the ignorant, effete leader of the Bronze Age. It's no Chicken Run or Pirates: Band of Misfits, but the gentle comic rhythms of an Aardman movie can still be refreshing. Nate's Grade: B-

Nate Zoebl
Nate Zoebl

Super Reviewer

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