Early Man United were much better than Mourinho’s Man United, that’s for sure…
Yo, this be Reuben. Ayyy, two posts in one day! Aardman are a company very close to my heart, as the pride of Bristol and the west country of England, as well as being a leading cinematic force for the whole of Britain. With Early Man, they’ve come back to the big screen with a good ol’ film made of Plasticine, this time about cavemen playing footie.
As Britishness goes, Early Man is about as British as a film can get. Based purely on the game of football, with the northern voice actors and British customs and such blaring through every single component of the movie, from the script to the visuals and to the plot. Perhaps it is so British that it may be alienating to worldwide watchers, but still, from a very biased viewpoint of a west country English boi who loves a good game of footie, I absolutely love it and in its quirky ways it feels quite patriotic, even.
While the plot is very simple and honestly quite predictable, the script is where this flick shines. Also simple, it’s brilliant in this as it brings the entertainment straight to the point with a good mixture of the sort of more subtle comedy you’ll find in Wallace & Gromit and the slap-stick of Shaun the Sheep. The whole fiasco of the Bronze Age peeps, who with all their Frenchness, is also very funny and cleverly done. And again, with it being a film based on football, it does have some potentially alienating humour there, but from my very biased viewpoint, I found it really rather entertaining. And, so IT’S NOT COMPLETELY BIASED, the humour is all very smartly executed, as per from Nick Park and crew.
Furthermore, with Dug we have a strong and endearing protagonist as good as any Aardman have put out before, while the rest of the characters, similar to Chicken Run and The Pirates all come together into one big-but-not-too-big mush of funny characters who all with their li’l quirks work brilliantly together. The voice acting, too, is on point, with as much satisfying Yorkshire accents as you’d want, and a couple of fantastic commentators for that big match at the end — we even have a cameo from director/lead animator Nick Park himself.
I shouldn’t even have to write anything about the animation. It’s as incredible as it always is, well worth the time and effort and it still impresses me as one of the greatest marvels in animation. Aardman have mastered the art of stop-motion animation and it’s wonderful to see it in action so many times and in so many forms.
However, as for the plot, although it does work well for the film and the simplicity of it all is a good thing, it is rather predictable, which takes away from the whole movie a little. And as for the soundtrack, too, it is a little too simple and basic and I think it cheapens the whole affair. I mean, The Pirates had a song by Flight of the Conchords and anything else they’ve done has had original soundtracks written for them, so for Early Man just to be filled with mediocre indie and pop songs of the sort you’d expect in Despicable Me is disappointing. And while the script is a smart and funny one, I don’t think it can be fairly compared to Aardman’s best works like Wallace & Gromit or Chicken Run.
It’s more just a kid’s film than those greats, which although not taking away from the entertainment, does limit how good the film can be. True too, although the animation is absolutely top quality, the models aren’t so awesomely detailed as they have been in some previous Aardman works.
Occasionally it can slip into average territory with its sometimes over-simple plot and crappy soundtrack, but it never comes close to staying there and makes up for it really well as its one of the funnier films I’ve seen in recent times with its smart comedic screenplay, has fantastic animation as to be expected, is brilliantly British, and with its 89 minute runtime, it’s a really fun little package. Perhaps not an instant classic, Early Man is just a pleasant and fun watch.
RANKING AMONG AARDMAN’S OTHER FILMS (including non-stop-motion because why not):
1. Chicken Run (2000)
2. Wallace & Gromit and the Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005)
3. Arthur Christmas (2011)
4. The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists! (2012)
5. Early Man (2018)
6. Flushed Away (2006)
7. Shaun the Sheep Movie (2015)
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