Set at the dawn of time when prehistoric creatures and woolly mammoths roamed the earth, Early Man tells the story of Dug, along with sidekick Hognob as they unite his tribe against a mighty enemy Lord Nooth and his Bronze Age City to save their home.
Mind-boggling yet continually imaginative, Early Man traces humankind’s roots back to the thrill and competition of athletics. Sports, as pictured by the film, drives and defines character, thus putting all the more pressure of Dug (voiced by Eddie Redmayne) and his clan. To save his valley, the only home he knows, from the progressive incorporation of the Bronze Age, he must participate in a winner-take-all football game against the toughest team of players in order to preserve what he knows.
The film is textbook hero’s journey, featuring a young (cave)man on a quest for the greater good. In this way, the film is identifiable and familiar to young viewers, yet for those who grew up watching other films from director Nick Park (Wallace and Gromit, in particular), might be found wanting. The jokes and free-flowing puns manage to entertain, but at a runtime of just under an hour and a half, one might wish that there was a little more to stick to and remember long after the credits roll.
The vocal performances, rest assured, are inspired. Redmayne makes for a scrappy hero archetype, and Maisie Williams lends strong will and spunk to her Goona, essentially the world’s first female soccer player. The main treat is Tom Hiddleston as Lord Nooth, whose voice is nearly unrecognizable as he finds some giddy joy playing the film’s baddy.
Any problems with the film are somewhat two-sided. Yes, I wish the film didn’t feel nearly as rushed and that it had more to look back on and laugh. But as a film targeted towards younger audiences, it moves briskly and a wonderful time is to be had, laced with a kind message about teamwork. Best of all, the film is simply fun!
Dove is proud to award the film our Approval for All Ages.