Reel Opinions


Sunday, February 18, 2018

Early Man

Britain's Aardman Animation has made a name for themselves with their smart humor, and trademark stop motion animation style, which has a certain charmingly retro look to it in this day and age of expensive CG visual-fests.  (Although, the studio has tried their hand at CG films in the past.) Their latest effort, Early Man, is an unfortunately mediocre attempt by the usually reliable team.  Its visuals can only carry the film so far.  The movie itself is more or less a cliched and undercooked sports underdog story with some stone age puns that seem to have been pulled right out of The Flintstones.

Setting an animated film in the prehistoric times almost seems to be a curse for most animation studios, as it has largely led to mediocrity with past attempts like the Ice Age series, or The Croods.  The curse has now claimed the mighty Aardman, who are usually much smarter and brighter than the material they work with here.  Gone is a lot of the trademark wit and satire, and it's been replaced with a dull story about a largely inept stone age tribe trying to save themselves from a life of slavery by challenging a Bronze Age tribe to a game of Football (that's Soccer, to us Americans).  It would be different if the movie had some fun with the sports movie cliches that it uses, but director Nick Park (Wallace and Gromit) seems content to just follow the rules laid by too many films just like it.  And aside from the occasional funny line or background gag (a vendor in a city is seen selling "Jurassic Pork"), this is simply uninspired, and will likely appeal only to very little kids who just happen to be aficionados of British sports and prehistoric puns. 

The plot is kicked off by Dug (voice by Eddie Redmayne), a young caveman who is a member of a pretty stupid tribe who has somehow managed to survive by only eating rabbit, while avoiding the much bigger and meatier animals.  The Chief of Dug's tribe (Timothy Spall) wants things to remain the way they are.  After all, he's the eldest member of the tribe (he's 32), and feels his tribe should stay put where they are to survive, instead of seeking out mammoths to hunt.  One day, the tribe is attacked by a kingdom that has embraced bronze mining and making material out of metal rather than bone and rocks.  They are led by the flamboyant Lord Nooth (Tom Hiddletson), and conquer the land of Dug's tribe for the precious ore that is hidden underneath.  

The tribe is kicked off their land, and Dug quickly comes to the conclusion that the only way to get it back is by challenging the kingdom to a game of soccer.  The stakes are high, for if they lose, Dug and his tribe will be forced to work in the mines the rest of their lives.  Cue the training montage, where the tribe seems to be hopeless at the sport.  But then, they are aided by the spunky young Goona (Maisie Williams), who is not allowed to play the sport in the kingdom because she's a woman.  From there, anyone with the slightest knowledge of how these movies play out can figure out what happens next.  The girl who no one will let play ends up being a star athlete, the kid who wants to play but is kept on the sidelines (in this case, the "kid" is a wild boar named Hognob, who is Dug's pet) will have to step in and help the team out near the end of the game, one of the players on the good team will get injured at one point, and the evil team will cheat in order to win.  Do the cavemen end up winning the big game?  I wouldn't dream of spoiling the ending.

Early Man just seems content to exist, and is never better than it needs to be.  The characters who make up Dug's tribe are largely interchangeable and are not interesting.  This goes for Dug himself, as he never changes or seems to learn anything during the course of the film.  He's just endlessly optimistic and cheerful, except for the brief moment where the evil Lord Nooth tries to talk him into forfeiting the match.  Even the jokes seem oddly uninspired, and often come across like holdovers from The Flintstones, with the cavemen using tiny crocodiles as clothes pins and a beetle as a beard shaver.  The only gag that works is a Message Bird (voiced by Rob Bryden), who mimics the voice of the person who has sent the message, and acts out their part.  This is clever, and frankly, the movie could have used more jokes like it.

There are some great visuals and a couple chuckle-worthy lines ("You haven't touched your primordial soup!"), but outside of these fleeting moments, Early Man seems like an effort that was made by great artists who had something else on their minds at the time.  It's far from terrible, but there's just very little to get excited about here when you get down to it.


0 comments

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

<< Home

09/01/2005 - 10/01/2005
10/01/2005 - 11/01/2005
11/01/2005 - 12/01/2005
12/01/2005 - 01/01/2006
01/01/2006 - 02/01/2006
02/01/2006 - 03/01/2006
03/01/2006 - 04/01/2006
04/01/2006 - 05/01/2006
05/01/2006 - 06/01/2006
06/01/2006 - 07/01/2006
07/01/2006 - 08/01/2006
08/01/2006 - 09/01/2006
09/01/2006 - 10/01/2006
10/01/2006 - 11/01/2006
11/01/2006 - 12/01/2006
12/01/2006 - 01/01/2007
01/01/2007 - 02/01/2007
02/01/2007 - 03/01/2007
03/01/2007 - 04/01/2007
04/01/2007 - 05/01/2007
05/01/2007 - 06/01/2007
06/01/2007 - 07/01/2007
07/01/2007 - 08/01/2007
08/01/2007 - 09/01/2007
09/01/2007 - 10/01/2007
10/01/2007 - 11/01/2007
11/01/2007 - 12/01/2007
12/01/2007 - 01/01/2008
01/01/2008 - 02/01/2008
02/01/2008 - 03/01/2008
03/01/2008 - 04/01/2008
04/01/2008 - 05/01/2008
05/01/2008 - 06/01/2008
06/01/2008 - 07/01/2008
07/01/2008 - 08/01/2008
08/01/2008 - 09/01/2008
09/01/2008 - 10/01/2008
10/01/2008 - 11/01/2008
11/01/2008 - 12/01/2008
12/01/2008 - 01/01/2009
01/01/2009 - 02/01/2009
02/01/2009 - 03/01/2009
03/01/2009 - 04/01/2009
04/01/2009 - 05/01/2009
05/01/2009 - 06/01/2009
06/01/2009 - 07/01/2009
07/01/2009 - 08/01/2009
08/01/2009 - 09/01/2009
09/01/2009 - 10/01/2009
10/01/2009 - 11/01/2009
11/01/2009 - 12/01/2009
12/01/2009 - 01/01/2010
01/01/2010 - 02/01/2010
02/01/2010 - 03/01/2010
03/01/2010 - 04/01/2010
04/01/2010 - 05/01/2010
05/01/2010 - 06/01/2010
06/01/2010 - 07/01/2010
07/01/2010 - 08/01/2010
08/01/2010 - 09/01/2010
09/01/2010 - 10/01/2010
10/01/2010 - 11/01/2010
11/01/2010 - 12/01/2010
12/01/2010 - 01/01/2011
01/01/2011 - 02/01/2011
02/01/2011 - 03/01/2011
03/01/2011 - 04/01/2011
04/01/2011 - 05/01/2011
05/01/2011 - 06/01/2011
06/01/2011 - 07/01/2011
07/01/2011 - 08/01/2011
08/01/2011 - 09/01/2011
09/01/2011 - 10/01/2011
10/01/2011 - 11/01/2011
11/01/2011 - 12/01/2011
12/01/2011 - 01/01/2012
01/01/2012 - 02/01/2012
02/01/2012 - 03/01/2012
03/01/2012 - 04/01/2012
04/01/2012 - 05/01/2012
05/01/2012 - 06/01/2012
06/01/2012 - 07/01/2012
07/01/2012 - 08/01/2012
08/01/2012 - 09/01/2012
09/01/2012 - 10/01/2012
10/01/2012 - 11/01/2012
11/01/2012 - 12/01/2012
12/01/2012 - 01/01/2013
01/01/2013 - 02/01/2013
02/01/2013 - 03/01/2013
03/01/2013 - 04/01/2013
04/01/2013 - 05/01/2013
05/01/2013 - 06/01/2013
06/01/2013 - 07/01/2013
07/01/2013 - 08/01/2013
08/01/2013 - 09/01/2013
09/01/2013 - 10/01/2013
10/01/2013 - 11/01/2013
11/01/2013 - 12/01/2013
12/01/2013 - 01/01/2014
01/01/2014 - 02/01/2014
02/01/2014 - 03/01/2014
03/01/2014 - 04/01/2014
04/01/2014 - 05/01/2014
05/01/2014 - 06/01/2014
06/01/2014 - 07/01/2014
07/01/2014 - 08/01/2014
08/01/2014 - 09/01/2014
09/01/2014 - 10/01/2014
10/01/2014 - 11/01/2014
11/01/2014 - 12/01/2014
12/01/2014 - 01/01/2015
01/01/2015 - 02/01/2015
02/01/2015 - 03/01/2015
03/01/2015 - 04/01/2015
04/01/2015 - 05/01/2015
05/01/2015 - 06/01/2015
06/01/2015 - 07/01/2015
07/01/2015 - 08/01/2015
08/01/2015 - 09/01/2015
09/01/2015 - 10/01/2015
10/01/2015 - 11/01/2015
11/01/2015 - 12/01/2015
12/01/2015 - 01/01/2016
01/01/2016 - 02/01/2016
02/01/2016 - 03/01/2016
03/01/2016 - 04/01/2016
04/01/2016 - 05/01/2016
05/01/2016 - 06/01/2016
06/01/2016 - 07/01/2016
07/01/2016 - 08/01/2016
08/01/2016 - 09/01/2016
09/01/2016 - 10/01/2016
10/01/2016 - 11/01/2016
11/01/2016 - 12/01/2016
12/01/2016 - 01/01/2017
01/01/2017 - 02/01/2017
02/01/2017 - 03/01/2017
03/01/2017 - 04/01/2017
04/01/2017 - 05/01/2017
05/01/2017 - 06/01/2017
06/01/2017 - 07/01/2017
07/01/2017 - 08/01/2017
08/01/2017 - 09/01/2017
09/01/2017 - 10/01/2017
10/01/2017 - 11/01/2017
11/01/2017 - 12/01/2017
12/01/2017 - 01/01/2018
01/01/2018 - 02/01/2018
02/01/2018 - 03/01/2018
03/01/2018 - 04/01/2018
04/01/2018 - 05/01/2018
05/01/2018 - 06/01/2018
06/01/2018 - 07/01/2018
07/01/2018 - 08/01/2018
08/01/2018 - 09/01/2018
09/01/2018 - 10/01/2018

Powered by Blogger