Another Aardman crowdpleaser
The heart of Early Man though is England’s obsession with football. Dug’s tribes’ history with the game definitely has deliberate parallels to the home of Manchester United, Wembley and Bobby Moore...
EARLYMAN (PG, 89MINS) DIRECTED BY NICK PARK
Dug (Eddie Redmayne) likes to dream big.
While the rest of his tribe are happy just to hunt rabbits, he’s convinced they can capture a mammoth. Assisted by his trusty hog Hob Nob, he begins laying the groundwork for his ambitious plan. However, before he can put it into effect, he and his people become the hunted.
With superior technology and weaponry, a new tribe steamroll into the valley, forcing Dug and his kind to flee.
An inadvertent bump to the noggin sees Dug transported into the invaders’ stronghold, where he discovers a way of life light years from his own, with the inhabitants obsessed with a round-ball game.
Blundering his way into the main arena, Dug gains himself an audience with the nefarious Lord Nooth (Tom Hiddleston) and makes a bold wager – that if his tribe can beat Nooth’s expensively assembled Real Bronzio at their own game, they will win their valley back. Lose though, and they’ll all become mine workers.
Like The Curse of the Were Rabbit and The Pirates! before it, Aardman Animation’s latest adventure offers entertainment aplenty.
The claymation creations are character-filled delights, the vocal cast (which also includes Maisie Williams, Richard Ayoade, Johnny Vegas, Miriam Margolyes and Rob Brydon) is top notch and the gag quotient off the Richter scale.
As usual, much of the delight is in the details, whether it’s shop signs that say Jurassic Pork or Flint Eastwood, a headline that reads ‘‘Woad Rage’’, or dialogue like, ‘‘Dug, you haven’t eaten your primordial soup’’.
The heart of Early Man though is England’s obsession with football. Dug’s tribes’ history with the game definitely has deliberate parallels to the home of Manchester United, Wembley and Bobby Moore and director Nick Park (on helming duties for the first time since 2008 Wallace and Gromit short A Matter of Loaf and Death) plays them up.
A character is named after a major club’s nickname, another team is namechecked in a later joke and even Kenneth Wolstenholme’s famous 1996 World Cup commentary is parodied.
If Aardman’s 2000 tale Chicken Run was a remake of The Great Escape, then Early Man‘ s clear inspiration is fellow World War IItale Escape to Victory (with a touch of Monty Python and the Holy Grail) with a comedy pre-historic pig subbing in for Pele.
A ball-tearing, net-busting crowdpleaser, Early Man offers plenty of fun for the whole family. - James Croot
opens in New Zealand cinemas on March 29.
In Aardman Animation’s Early Man, the claymation creations are character-filled delights, the vocal cast is top notch and the gag quotient off the Richter scale