EARLY MAN (PG, 89MINS) DI­RECTED BY NICK PARK

Marlborough Midweek - - OUT & ABOUT -

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

Es­cape to Vic­tory 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

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

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