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Early Man - Film Review

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by Marisa Quinn-Haisu (subscribe)
My name is Marisa. I am a fiction writer, a blogger, and a freelance journalist.
Published March 24th 2018
The makers of Wallace and Gromit return with fun family film

Wallace and Gromit was pretty popular in my household when I was growing up. When I saw the trailer for the 2018 stop-motion animated film Early Man, I immediately recognised the animation style from Wallace and Gromit.

Early Man is directed by Nick Park, the creator of Wallace and Gromit, and written by Mark Button and James Higginson. It stars the voices of Eddie Redmayne, Tom Hiddleston, Maisie Williams and Timothy Spall.

It was produced by Aardman Animations and the British Film Institute and released through StudioCanal on the 26th of January 2018 in the United Kingdom and in the United States on the 16th of February 2018. It has received positive reviews from critics and has an 81% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and mostly favourable reviews on Metacritic. It has grossed around $37.1 million worldwide.

The look of this film instantly caught my attention. It had been a while since I'd last seen a film done in stop-motion. Would this film be as good as Chicken Run and Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit?

Early Man is set in prehistoric England near the future site of the city of Manchester. The movie begins with an asteroid hitting the Earth and causing the extinction of the dinosaurs and much of the plant life. A small tribe of cavemen survives the impact and climb down into the crater to find a piece of the asteroid still smouldering. The chunk of rock is too hot to touch, so they start kicking it about. Delighted with this new invention, the men create goal posts and teams, and the game of soccer is born.

The film then skips forward to the Stone Age and we meet our protagonist, a young caveman named Dug (Eddie Redmayne), who lives in the asteroid crater with a group of other cavemen. The asteroid crater is now lush and green and overflowing with plant and animal life; everything outside it is called 'the Badlands' because it is dry, barren and dead and nothing lives out there.

Dug and his tribesman are rabbit hunters but aren't very good at it. Dug suggests to his chief Bobnar (Timothy Spall), that they should try hunting woolly mammoths instead, but his suggestion is dismissed. Dug is told that he shouldn't try to be more than what he is and should be content with how things are. Dug is disappointed and doesn't share his chief's opinion. He wants to be more than just a simple rabbit hunter stuck in the Stone Age.

Dug's life is turned upside down when his peaceful valley is invaded by a Bronze Age army led by the villainous King Nooth (Tom Hiddleston). Dug's tribe is kicked out of their valley and forced into the Badlands. Dug tries to protect his tribe, but ends up getting taken back to the invader's city in the back of a cart by accident.

While there, he discovers the game of soccer, and that the Bronze Age people consider it a sacred form of combat. Dug challenges the Bronze Age team to a match. If Stone Age wins, then Bronze Age will let them have their valley back and will agree to leave them alone. If Bronze wins, than Dug and his tribe will agree to work in Nooth's mines forever.

Dug returns to his tribe to teach them how to play soccer. He is joined by a local woman from the Bronze Age city named Goona (Maisie Williams) who agrees to help teach them.

I thought Early Man was a pretty good film. It had excellent animation and some really clever and imaginative touches to it. I liked how Dug's tribe used baby crocodiles as clothes pegs, for example, and how Bobnar used a bug's long pinches to shave his chin. It also had some good lines of dialogue.

In one scene Dug is walking through a marketplace and a man is seen slicing bread and another man proclaims "Sliced bread! That is the best thing since…well ever."

I also liked how British the film felt despite its prehistoric setting. Its location "somewhere near Manchester" made me chuckle, and Dug's tribesmen had very British mannerisms.

Nick Park's films have always been very British. Dug himself looked a lot like Wallace. One might even wonder if he is a distant relative of him.

Early Man was a fun child-friendly film. It will be released in cinemas on the 29th of March.
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*Marisa Quinn-Haisu was invited as a guest
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Why? Early Man is a creative prehistoric comedy about the birth of soccer
Cost: Adults $22.00, Child $16.00, Pensioner/Student $18.50 and Seniors $15.50
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