Early Man by Nick Park enters the fray
by Camillo De Marco
- Aardman's latest animated film takes place in prehistoric times, with a football match between the Stone Age and Bronze Age civilisations
A clash between the Stone Age and the Bronze Age takes place on a football field in Early Man [+see also:
film profile], an animated film that sees the return of Nick Park to the role of director. After directing Chicken Run in 2000 with Peter Lord, Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of The Were-Rabbit [+see also:
film profile] in 2005 with Steve Box, and the legendary short film Wallace and Gromit: a Matter of Loaf and Death in 2008, Early Man marks Park's first solo experience behind the camera in the largest production by the British outfit Aardman in its 40 year history.
The adventures of Early Man begin in Neopleistocene at around lunchtime. A large asteroid hits the earth and its fiery core becomes the first football in the history of mankind. Skip forward a few ages and man has learned to talk and hunt. Our "claymation" heroes, however, can only hunt rabbits, even if Dag, the smartest person in the village, would rather target mammoths. Unfortunately, the clan has remained in the Stone Age and is soon to be attacked and taken prisoner by a Bronze Age civilisation, ruled over by the cruel and greedy Lord Nooth. In order not to end up digging in the bronze mines and with the hope of returning to their enchanting valley, the cavemen will have to challenge Real Bronzio, led by "bomber" Jurgend, to a game of football. But how will they be victorious in just a few hours and beat those star players? Fortunately, coming to the rescue of Dag and company is Ginna, a young pot seller (bronze of course) and passionate football fan.
Following some classic Aardman-style amusing situations and some particularly good jokes, the film ends with an epic match on a football field, which is perhaps slightly too lengthy. Something that will certainly pass younger audiences by, but that could potentially bore older audience members used to claymation comedy that can entertain both children and adults alike. Just like Shaun the Sheep [+see also:
film profile], which Nick Park wrote and worked on as executive producer back in 2015.
Park, a four-time Oscar winner, had the idea for a comedy about ancient civilisations in 2010, and the work of animators Merlin Crossingham and Will Becher has a large impact. The only potential issues with Early Man lie in its less-than-choppy rhythm, and the potential unoriginality of the whole football match idea. Nevertheless, the English humour that is typical of Aardman’s products always makes the characters special and they certainly don’t conform to your standard American animated heroes. The actors that bring the stop motion puppets to life also do an excellent job, with Eddie Redmayne playing Dag, Tom Hiddleston playing Lord Nooth and Timothy Spall playing Chief Bobnar. The cast also stars Mark Williams, Richard Ayoade and Johnny Vegas.
Early Man was released in the UK on 26 January with StudioCanal and will be released subsequently in the rest of territories of Europe.
(Translated from Italian)
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