Director: Nick Park.
Who doesn’t love the world of Nick Park and his Aardman creations such as Wallace & Gromit, Chicken Run and all those cute plasticine animals from Creature Comforts? Stop-motion being their forte with Chicken Run being their debut feature length film is incidentally the highest grossing stop-motion animation of all time! That’s quite an achievement. In fact it’s more of a dream come true for the founders, Peter Lord and David Sproxton, that started the firm back in 1972 with the goal of making a stop-motion picture.
But it’s fair to say their films have been rather sparse, with Shaun the Sheep Movie being their most recent from 2015 and The Curse of the Were-Rabbit all the way back from 2005. But, of course, stop-motion animation is a lengthy process and is no small task to push a full feature length film out of the tub. You only have the imagine the dedication and patience of what goes on behind making films like these.
I would expect the first name that pops in most people’s heads when mentioning Wallace & Gromit or Aardman Animations, is Nick Park. And that’s unsurprising because Park was the one who the studio their first Oscar back in 1991 with his short animation, Creature Comforts. Not mentioning to mention the follow three Oscars after that. But this is Park’s first solo feature length film Chicken Run’s Peter Lord and Were-Rabbit’s Steve Box.
This time Aardman and Park go prehistoric with Early Man, telling a fictitious and comical story of the origins of football which certainly provides a great pitch for some football culture puns. Dug, his trusted sidekick hog, Hognob and the rest of his tribe are pitted into a football match against the invading, Bronze Age French Lord and his army, wagering the fate of their valley.
To no surprise, there’s an all star voice cast with Redmayne voicing an unrecognisable, brave yet clumsy Dug, going up against an equally unrecognisable Hiddleston as the vain, tyrant Lord Nooth. Game of Thrones’ star Maisie Williams plays the extremely talented Goona and Spall returns to Aardman for his second outing after Chicken Run as the rather unenthusiastic yet joyful Chief.
Obviously the animation is as expected, and is of great quality with some amazing sequences. It’s undoubtedly well put together with some great characters that blatantly display the markings of Aardman creations. But as for the comedy, it sadly misses the goal on a number of occasions really only giving rise to a few giggles as oppose to all out laughter. It is loaded with puns, but it’s not enough to make the comedy memorable.
Harry Gregson-Williams does a family friendly score that’s accompanied by tracks from The Vamps and their supporting British rock pop band, New Hope Club, who provide a couple of the songs and covered tracks like Mud’s catchy “Tiger Feet.”
It’s unfortunately, not the best of Park’s or Aardman’s creations, and fails to deliver. I can’t say Park’s solo direction has anything to do with it, but it just not as good as Wallace and Gromit, not even Chicken Run.
Running Time: 6
The Cast: 7
Job Description: 4
The Extra Bonus Point: 0