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EARLY MAN

SYNOPSIS:
Set at the dawn of time, when prehistoric creatures and woolly mammoths roamed the earth, Early Man tells the story of Dug (Eddie Redmayne), along with sidekick Hognob (Nick Park)as they unite his tribe against a mighty enemy Lord Nooth (Tom Hiddleston)and his Bronze Age City to save their home.

Review by Louise Keller:
Propelled by its delightful characters and fuelled by inventive ideas, Aardman magic is alive and well in Nick Park's latest, charming stop motion animation. Filled with slapstick, one-liners, visual gags and wacky, character-driven humour, Early Man is witty and funny, as it entices us into an accessible reality populated by its lovable characters. They all have the distinctive Aardman look - big mouths, uneven teeth and rough physical features. If you love Wallace and Gromit and Chicken Run, you will warm to this thoroughly enjoyable charmer that will delight the young and young at heart.

The storyline can be taken on several levels, including an analogy to Britain's imminent departure from the EU under Brexit. But on its most simplistic level, it concerns characters in the Stone Age who compete against Continentals from the Bronze Age to preserve their spot in the valley. Football is the catalyst, when Dun (Eddie Redmayne) and his primitive clan are pitted against Lord Nooth's (Tom Hiddleston, smarmy Gallic accent intact) team of sophisticated all-stars. The difference? Ego-driven players vs tight teamwork.

My favourite scene is the one in which Hognob (voiced by Nick Park himself), Dun's orange pet hog, finds himself in Lord Nooth's lavish bathroom, obliged to provide the disrobed, unknowing Lord with a massage while in his bath. He plays the harp, too. Hognob (as Dun's sidekick) is the equivalent to Wallace's Gromit and there's a lovely vibe in the relationship between the two of them. The scene is incongruous, ridiculous and innocent all at once; it plays out with great charm. Watch for the Message Bird (Rob Brydon), who appears out of the blue with robotic messages from the tyrannical queen (Miriam Margolyes). The laughs come from all directions as the all-important football match eventuates.

It's a diverse and strong voice cast that inhabits these madcap characters, while the stop motion animation brings a welcome individuality in this sophisticated age when everything seems to be so slick and polished. Replete with lovely touches, the English sensibility shines through amid sunny shafts of humour. It's a delight.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

EARLY MAN (PG)
(US, 2018)

VOICES: Eddie Redmayne,Tom Hiddleston, Maisie Williams, Timothy Spall, Richard Ayoade, Mark Williams, Miriam Margolyes, Rob Brydon, Nick Park, Kayvan Novak, Johnny Vegas

PRODUCER: Richard Beek, Peter Lord, Nick Park, Carla Shelley, David Sproxton

DIRECTOR: Nick Park

SCRIPT: Mark Burton, James Higginson (Story by Nick Park, Mark Burton)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Charles Copping, Dave Alex Riddett, Paul Smith, Peter Sorg

EDITOR: Sim Evan-Jones

MUSIC: Harry Gregson-Williams, Tom Howe

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Matt Perry

RUNNING TIME: 89 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Studio Canal

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: March 29, 2018







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