They’re the animation studio that gave us ‘Wallace and Gromit’, ‘Shaun the Sheep’ and ‘Chicken Run’. They may not have the dominating presence of Disney, Pixar, Blue Sky or Illumination, but Aardman have been a well-loved staple in childhood homes for generations. But it turns out love doesn’t make you infallible. Each and every studio has its dark spot, and it appears that Aardman has finally reached theirs.
‘Early Man’ tells the tale of Dug (Eddie Redmayne, ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’) who lives peacefully in a valley he shares with his small tribe. Then the Bronze Age hits and the French, led by Lord Nooth (Tom Hiddleston, the ‘Avengers’ franchise) with all their machines, brute force and soccer come storming in to usurp the tribe's territory. Banished to the “bad lands”, Dug challenges Lord Nooth’s champion soccer team to a match - winner takes the valley - but without knowing how to play soccer, what it even is and having never seen a ball before, this is going to be quite the challenge. Luckily Dug runs into Goona (Maisie Williams, TV's ‘Game of Thrones’), a girl who dreams of playing on the sacred soccer pitch, who volunteers to help the tribe.
Aye aye aye, where to start? As a massive animation fan with the maturity of someone whose age resides somewhere in the single digits, I was geared up and eager for this one. And then... the boredom started early, the incessant yawning soon followed, and it became a power struggle between napping and staying awake to be able to write this review. Even the small children I was surrounded by in my family screening seemed more interested in standing on their seats and eating popcorn than in what was on the screen - that is, until the poop joke and the occasional soccer ball to the face drew their attention for a burst.
Story-wise it’s completely uninspired.
So here’s why ‘Early Man’ is a fail - story-wise, it’s completely uninspired. The jokes fall flat, the screenplay is lacklustre, and the animation is rudimental. And then there's the weird affected French accents of our favourite actors. What were they thinking! While it may look like an Aardman film, it lacks that sparkle and incredible detail that always sets it apart. Shame.