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Early Man Movie Review

Past failures aren’t always set in stone.

February 16, 2018

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Early Man Movie Review - Reviewed by Kidzworld on Feb 16, 2018
( Rating: 3 Star Rating)

Kidzworld saw the stop motion animation film Early Man. How much cute fun is watching Stone Age cavemen vs. snooty Bronze Age footballers play the game of a lifetime? Check our movie review.

By: Lynn Barker

In Early Man, when Bronze Age invaders take over the forested lands of the last of the Stone Age cavemen, only a U.K.-style football game (some of us call it soccer) can determine if the cavemen will regain their lands or spend the rest of their lives mining ore for bronze-making. Their ace in the hole? The cavemen invented the game eons before!

Goona kicks a goalGoona kicks a goal

Footballs to Rabbits

Long before the Stone Age, early cavemen invented U.K.-style football when they discovered the hot, round center of a recently fallen meteor. While it was still hot, they couldn’t pick it up so they kept kicking it around. The early game was born. In the Stone Age, the ruined volcanic land has turned to lush forest and a tribe hunts rabbits for food. One member Dug (voice of Eddie Redmayne), thinks the group should learn to hunt something bigger like a mammoth or large buffalo-type animal. The tribe’s chief Bobnar (Timothy Spall) thinks it will be too difficult for them. Dug and his best buddie Hognob, a prehistoric pig, think not.

Eddie Redmayne with his clay puppet character DugEddie Redmayne with his clay puppet character Dug

Invasion!

One night the tribe hears huge footsteps and are driven from their valley by invading Bronze Age people riding huge, armored mammoths. Their leader Lord Nooth (Tom Hiddleston) declares that the Stone Age is over and the Bronze Age has begun. While the tribe is isolated to a concentration camp style enclosure in the volcanic badlands, Dug, who got knocked out and landed in a wagon, is taken into the Bronze city where he runs and is mistaken for a football player on the local team. When he is discovered in the stadium, Dug challenges the local team to a game. If his team of cavemen win, they will get their valley back. If not, they will be slaves working in the ore mines!

Lord Nooth realizes the Stone Agers could winLord Nooth realizes the Stone Agers could win

Training

Dug struggles to teach the Stone Agers how to play although ancient cave drawings show that they played long ago. Most of the tribe is a little too stupid to understand the game with some crazy results. Hognob wants to play but, nope, he’s a pig! When their only football is flattened by a giant invading mallard duck, Dug has to sneak into the city to get more or the group can’t practice. There he sees a vendor named Goona (Maisie Williams) practicing by herself. She’s really good but the locals don’t allow women on their team. Meanwhile Lord Nooth fears the Queen (Miriam Margolyes) who has informed him that his team had better win!. In his bath, he mistakes hiding Hognob as his masseuse so the poor hog has to not only give a massage but play the harp!

Lord Nooth with the QueenLord Nooth with the Queen

More Training and an Offer

After Dug, Goona, and Hognob escape, Goona serves as new trainer for the Stone Age team and makes some progress with them. The chief, at the ripe old age of 32, is the oldest on the team. They suit up in crude team outfits and are semi ready to play. Realizing his future depends on his team winning, Lord Nooth discourages Dug by showing him recently-discovered cave paintings that prove that the Stone Agers might have invented football but they always lost their games!  If he and the team will forfeit the game and give up, Nooth says they’ll be safe.

Goona's training is tough!Goona's training is tough!

Game Day

The Queen decides to attend the game. Worried for his people, Dug announces not a challenge but that the Stone Agers will forfeit. There will be no game. Suddenly, the rest of the team arrives riding atop the giant flying mallard duck! They want to play. The chief tells Dug that past losses mean nothing. They are a new team and they can win! The game is on and after scoring a goal, Stone Agers are down 3-1 at half-time. (The “playbacks” consist of puppets recreating what just happened!)

Hognob has to give Nooth a massageHognob has to give Nooth a massage

Second Half

The score is tied and Lord Nooth comes in as an illegal referee, telling his team to play really rough and he won’t give penalties. Chief, the goalie is knocked out so Hognob has to take over.  He does his job as goalie and the Stone Age team wins 4-3. The Queen allows the tribe to return to live in their valley. Nooth, running away, trying to steal the gate money, is chomped on by the giant mallard duck and Goona and Dug, now a couple, go hunting but the rabbit scares them away by making a huge scary shadow puppet on a rock.

Hognob and Dug look for rabbitsHognob and Dug look for rabbits

Wrapping Up

I’ve always loved stop motion animated films. Each frame consists of an animator moving a small puppet a teeny tiny amount and taking a still picture until everything is put together. What a hard and creative job! Britain’s Aardman Studios has always excelled at the craft with such classics as Wallace and GromitShaun the Sheep and Chicken Run.

Maisie Williams with her character GoonaMaisie Williams with her character Goona

Early Man is charming, sweet and funny The little people and critters are all ugly/cute like all Aardman stop-motion characters, thus quite lovable. The “football”-based story will probably appeal most to European and other international audiences more familiar with the soccer-style game than Americans. Our football is quite different. Oh you will get what is basically going on during the game but some of the jokes might not register if you, for example, don’t know that Manchester United is a major U.K. football team. None-the-less, the goofy, cute visuals and family-friendly humor will make for a fun trip to the cinema for most of the family. After you check out Black Panther, give this one a chance. We can go at least three stars.

Early Man Movie Rating: 3

Early Man Movie PosterEarly Man Movie Poster

See Early Man in theaters now!

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