I’m not sure how American movie goers will fare with “Early Man,” the next stop motion feature from the genius Aardman company that gave us “Wallace & Gromit.” Obviously, it’s gonna get its loincloth kicked by “Black Panther,” which was a great movie, by the way. Most of the time, Marvel has the upper hand.
I admire the studio’s work, and doubt anything can top the pure genius and imagination of “Wallace & Gromit.” “Early Man” has no timeless story, but it has great sets, hardworking animation, and solid voice acting.
The story involves some cavemen, whose valley is seized by a bronze-obsessed leader. Apparently, they still live in the Stone Age, but the Bronze Age has begun, and that’s why “Sliced bread is the best thing since, well, ever.”
Eddie Redmayne voices Dug, a caveman, who challenges the leader Lord Nooth (voiced by Tom Hiddleston with a somewhat French accent) to a game of football (which plays like soccer), in exchange for his tribe’s valley back. And he gets help from a vender named Goona (voiced by Maisie Williams of “Game of Thrones” fame).
The story in “Early Man” has parts that feel like they have been edited out, but I have better judgement in its creativity than I did last week with “Peter Rabbit.” The voice acting from Redmayne, Hiddleston, Williams, Timothy Spall (as Dug’s Chief), and Rob Brydon (as a message bird) is solid; the sets are as usual incredible and well-detailed; and I still ponder about how the animation can be done. I know for fact that the animators use clay figures, and move them a fraction of an inch at a time. That takes weeks, no years for it to be done right.
And I like the scenes with Dug’s boar pet Hognob (voiced by the director Nick Park). Even if his story about wanting to join Dug’s team ends up being obvious, I love the way he looks and moves.
Again, it’s no match for “Black Panther,” but as a kids movie, it’s goofy fun.