Tag Archives: British Film Institute

Cinema Dispatch: Early Man

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Early Man and all the images you see in this review are owned by Aardman Animations and StudioCanal

Directed by Nick Park

I remember watching those Wallace and Gromit shorts many times when I was a kid on VHS tapes (none of which I still have), and while I haven’t been keeping up with Aardman TOO much in the last decade, I have always respected them as a studio and have had nothing but good things to say about their work; including that Pirates movie which seems to have had a much more mixed reception than a lot of their other work.  Now we’ve got their most auditions work to date; not because it’s a particularly out there or unexpected from the studio, but because they had the gall to open it against Black Panther!  I mean I guess it goes with the David and Goliath underdog story this movie is trying to tell, but something tells me that the forward thinking and groundbreaking black centered super hero movie is gonna do a SMIDGE more business than this silly cartoon.  Does Aardman’s latest adventure hold up to the high pedigree that they’ve set for themselves over their long and prestigious filmography, or have the masters of clay lost their touch in this latest outing?  Let’s find out!!

The movie begins with Dug (Eddie Redmayne) who is the youngest and the most wide-eyed member of a tribe of cavemen that spends their days hunting rabbits and playing primitive instruments.  Dug dreams of something more though, like possibly hunting BIGGER animals (maybe even a Mammoth), yet the leader Chief Bobnar (Timothy Spall) doesn’t feel like rocking the boat is the best thing for the tribe; especially when everyone else is so incompetent that they can manage to catch rabbits.  Still, the march of time is a cruel one and one day the tribe is uprooted from their idyllic homes by the war machines and mining equipment of Lord Nooth (Tom Hiddleston); leader of a nearby town that has advanced to the Bronze Age.  Through a series of convoluted missteps and slapstick humor, Dug ends up tripping falling into the Bronze Age city and even gets stuck right in the middle of their sacred arena where the mightiest warriors gather for the crowd’s amusement.  What exactly do they DO in the arena?  Fight to the death?  Feed Christians to lions?  NO!  They play SOCCER of course!  You know, that one game that everyone else calls football that we in the US only seem to care about once every four years!  Dug, seeing how much the people of this town crave the sport and treat as sacrosanct, challenges Lord Nooth and his best players to a match against him and his tribe!  If Lord Nooth wins, he can keep their homeland, but if Dug wins they get it back!  Can Dug and his tribe manage to learn how play just in time to beat the very best players the Bronze Age has to offer?  Will Dug’s new friend Goona (Maisie Williams) be the ringer they need to secure victory and will she finally get to live out her dreams of glory on the football pitch?  More importantly, can FIFA find a way to somehow turn this into an excuse to plunder a country of its riches and bully local governments!?

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“This game is brought to you by Bronze.  Always bet on Bronze and if we catch you with Steel, that’s twenty years in Football Jail!”

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