Thinking back to my school days, I remember like it was yesterday as I learned about the origins of man. I seem to remember something about dinosaurs roaming the earth then a big rock falling out of the sky and poof, no more dinos. As the story goes, men inherited the earth and the rest as they say is history. While all of that sounds simple there are certain things that have been left out, but lucky for us we get a glimpse of what we missed with Aardman’s latest “Early Man”.
After the big rock fell from the sky and man survived it, a discovery was made, the game of football as early man seemed to master it. Fast forward years later and man lives a basic life with rabbit hunting now being the one things they do. Dug (Eddie Redmayne) likes rabbits but he thinks they can do greater things, mainly hunt mammoths. The rest of his tribe is good with rabbits, but their lives are all about to change when the stone age comes barreling in and takes control of their home. For that what’s the bronze age it’s all about, well the bronze and Lord Nooth’s (Tom Hiddleston) love everything about it. With their home gone and the stone age kicked out of their home, Dug finds his way inside the bronze age where he discovers their ancient ritual. This ritual is the game of soccer and Dug challenges the best to a game with the winner claiming the valley that early men call home. What follows is a discovery as Dug and the rest of his tribe try and send the bronze age back to the stone age.
If you are not familiar with Aardman Animation they are the minds behind “Chicken Run”, “Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit”, and “Shaun the Sheep Movie”. Now knowing their work, it is probably safe to say you know what they are about. With “Early Man” the beauty of the product is there and while there are more than a few moments of brilliance it never reaches some of the previous films level. For me a lot that had to do with that is what the movie became, which is basically an underdog sports movie. While maybe their past efforts and their meanings have been disguised, with “Early Man” it is right up front and while the message is good, the question on who is receiving it comes up. It does because of the humor and style of Aardman’s films seems be above kids below the age of ten. “Early Man” is good, it is just when you rank it with their other films this one is closer to the bottom of that list. This though is worth seeing just for the magic of how it is created and the beauty of this kind of animation and while you might not laugh as much as you would like, your eyes will be smiling which is enough for me.