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  • Chad Womack

Chad Reviews "Early Man"

I’ve been a devoted fan of Aardman Animation for decades. Ever since they introduced their “Animated Conversations/Conversation Pieces” on the BBC, they have gained recognition as an extremely clever collection of artists with a unique way of conveying an idea. (Most might not realize that they were responsible for some of the mind-blowing animation in Peter Gabriel’s acclaimed music video for “Sledgehammer.”) The studio was then thrust into the mainstream with the Nick Park short, “Creature Comforts”, which won them an Oscar. Shortly thereafter, Park began developing a brand that would cement Aardman into pop culture consciousness with the beloved duo of Wallace and Gromit. After a string of shorts as well as a full length animated film starring the bumbling Wallace and unshakable Gromit, winning two more Oscars in the process, the studio churned out other memorable projects, including “Chicken Run” and “Flushed Away”. Now, Nick Park is unleashing his latest vision of when cavemen were scratching out a living in the wilds of Manchester. This…is “Early Man”.

Dug (Eddie Redmayne) and Chief Bobnar (Timothy Spall) are a quiet rabbit hunting Stone Age tribe content to live a tranquil existence in their tiny valley. When they are harshly driven into the badlands by Lord Nooth (Tom Hiddleston) whose army have surpassed their tribe technologically due to having advanced into the Bronze Age, Dug discovers that Nooth’s city is obsessed with a sporting contest that he doesn’t quite understand, but is willing to challenge his team of champions in a bid to win their valley back. After meeting the lovely Goona (Maisie Williams), an ace player and absolute firecracker, Dug begins to rally the tribe around him in a desperate attempt to win back their home.

This film works on so many levels. It’s endearing and unmistakably unique visual style is an immediate reminder that it finds itself in familiar territory in the company of caring and talented craftsmen and gifted storytellers. The writing, though not as clever in some earlier examples of Aardman’s previous efforts, is still witty and packed with sly winks and knowing nods for those clever enough to notice or patient enough to seek them out. It’s got a little bit of something for everybody, and is a shining example of proof that Nick Park and Aardman Animation are still worthy participants in the arena of truly great animation studios and are still capable of cranking out a quality film that is both consistently entertaining as well as instantly endearing.

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