Early Man

Critics Consensus

Early Man isn't quite as evolved as Aardman's best work, but still retains the unique visuals and sweet humor that have made the studio a favorite among animation enthusiasts.

81%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 171

49%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 2,152
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Movie Info

In this stop-motion animated comedy set in prehistoric times, a tribe of primitive hunters are displaced from their homes by emissaries from a distant empire that has mastered bronze-making. However, a tribesman named Dug (voice of Eddie Redmayne) tries to win his home back by challenging the invaders to a game of soccer. Directed by Nick Park, best known as the creator of the beloved animated duo Wallace and Gromit. Tom Hiddleston, Maisie Williams, Timothy Spall, and Richard Ayoade also lend their voices.

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Critic Reviews for Early Man

All Critics (171) | Top Critics (37) | Fresh (139) | Rotten (32)

  • Aardman has always done this layering of humour, so that adults can enjoy their stories as much as children, but this one pushes the volume up to 11. The glee runneth over from the first shot.

    Mar 28, 2018 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • The story is thin, allowing little room for imaginative engagement, and the comedy uninspired. Early Man contains a nice anti-sexism message, but delivers it half-heartedly.

    Feb 22, 2018 | Full Review…
  • Early Man is not so much a return to form as it is a long overdue comeback -- and a welcome one at that.

    Feb 20, 2018 | Full Review…
  • Aardman is a haven for creatures that hail from other species but match us or even outstrip us in proficiency and grace. Early Man, though, is stuffed with men and women...whereas the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air are reduced to extras.

    Feb 16, 2018 | Full Review…
  • At least there's director Nick Park's playful Silly Putty visual imagination to take your mind off just how thin the story is.

    Feb 16, 2018 | Rating: B- | Full Review…
  • Mostly, "Early Man" plays like an overstuffed episode of "The Flintstones," riffing on caveman accessories, as well as soccer fandom and hooliganism.

    Feb 16, 2018 | Full Review…

    Brian Lowry

    CNN.com
    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Early Man

  • Dec 01, 2018
    You know what the strangest thing is about Aardman Animations? At least as it relates to me, is that I've actually seen very little of their most famous creation, which is, obviously, Wallace and Gromit. Not that I'm entirely unfamiliar with Wallace and Gromit as, when I was younger, I remember watching a few episodes of the series when I was a kid and I remember being amused by their eccentricities but, being younger, I feel that a lot of the humor went over my head at the time. I'm at the age where, honestly, I would be more understanding of the humor since, if it wasn't obvious, I'm partial to British humor and Aardman has always had a good sense of humor. With that said, I should also note that, out of every one of their films I've seen (this one, Flushed Away, Arthur Christmas and The Pirates! Band of Misfits), I've enjoyed three of those. Admittedly speaking, I found Arthur Christmas a little disappointing. The animation was gorgeous and it had that Aardman humor, but the movie really was every Christmas movie ever made. I still liked it, but it was disappointing. With this movie, however, I can say that this is the first Aardman Animations movie that I have not enjoyed. While this shares the same rating as every movie in the Despicable Me trilogy, I find that this is still miles ahead of that franchise in terms of quality writing, animation and storytelling. And, even with that, I still didn't really enjoy this movie. I honestly have no idea as to why I didn't enjoy it. Even Pixar made Cars 2, so every studio is allowed a miss. I highly doubt that Aardman is headed down the tubes, as they still have a lot of talented people working there. Everyone is allowed a swing and a miss and, at the very least, for Aardman, this wasn't a movie where studio pressure mounted on them to produce a sequel they did not want to make for purposes of cashing in on the merchandising potential, like Pixar was with Cars 2. Regardless, I don't know, this didn't feel as much a labor of love as other Aardman movies clearly come across. I mean claymation isn't exactly easy. Animation, in general, isn't easy, but claymation is a step even farther than that considering the work that is put into shaping these characters in the positions where you want them, performing the actions you want them to perform. I can imagine it might be hell getting a claymation movie just right. But, to Aardman's credit, they've been doing it and they've been doing it quite successfully for almost as long as I've been alive. Yet, somehow, this movie just didn't really come together as well as other Aardman films. I feel that this was a project that they might not have been as passionate about as some of their other movies. I'm not saying that the effort wasn't put into this movie, because it clearly was, but I just feel that this was a stopgap measure before they go to work on the movies they really want to work on, the Shaun the Sheep sequel and Chicken Run 2. And this is a movie where it sort of feels like they're looking to the future instead of the here and now. Which is ironic, given that the movie features Stone Age cavemen going up against an unbeatable Bronze Age team at soccer/football with the wager of if the cavemen win, they get to go back to their valley (that they were forced out of by Lord Nooth). If they lose, they all go work in mines for the rest of their natural lives. Honestly, and I don't know if it's just me, but I did not like the fact that the movie was centered around a football match. I feel that it severely limits the scope of the movie. Like, seriously, think about it. Think about what Aardman could actually do with a movie about Stone Age cavemen being introduced to the 'future' Bronze Age. There's so much potential there for clever comedy in the Aardman style. But they do none of that, like, at all. They just have this soccer match pitting the cavemen against the more modern team. And, really, there's something incredibly limiting about that. The movie just boils down to Dug, an optimist who wishes for his tribe to branch out into the world, training the rest of his tribe how to play the game, as it turns out his ancestors invented the game. Like I said, the focus on the football match takes so much away from the potential of what the movie could be. This is a football movie spiced up by the fact that it's centered around cavemen. That's all this is. And it wouldn't be so much of an issue if, at the very least, I found the movie wildly entertaining, but I didn't ever come to that conclusion. The voice acting is great, Tom Hiddleston being a highlight as Lord Nooth, and there's definitely some entertaining moments, like Lord Nooth being chastised by this message bird that's delivering a message from his mother, the Queen. The ironic thing about the movie being a football movie (and how that limits its narrative potential) is the fact that the match itself is also the best part of the movie. It didn't really make much of a difference honestly, as the movie still falls short of being good, but the football match itself is somewhat inspired whereas the rest of the movie is not. I just find it all really bland, Dug has to take the members of his tribe and train them in a game they do not know. That's just not interesting to me, spice it up as they may with the whole caveman angle. It's just an easier story to tell than actually putting in the effort to write an inspired, original story. Let's be honest, this type of underdog story has been told before. Rocky springs to mind almost immediately. The underdog going up against the heavyweight champion of the world. The underdog that no one gives a real chance to actually compete with the heavyweight champion, much less go the distance with him. It's a template that has been followed for decades and that's what Aardman did. They followed that underdog template and only added their own humor to it, but they didn't do add much to change it or modernize it, which, again, is ironic given the setting and the era they are in. This is why I say that this was a stopgap measure until they're able to release the movies they want to make. This was a movie that was the last idea they had that they weren't entirely sure about but decided to go ahead and make anyway. I hate to be this critical, but this movie really didn't do it for me in the slightest. Like I said, not every filmmaker (or animation studio) is gonna have a perfect filmography, but this is really quite the disappointing movie and I can't really find a way to recommend it, even if you're a hardcore Aardman fan. It's quite a few notches below their best works. Hopefully they're able to get back on track with their next movies after this misfire of biblical proportions. Well, really, that's a bit of an exaggeration, but it is a misfire. Watch at your own risk, but I was severely disappointed by this.
    Jesse O Super Reviewer
  • Sep 18, 2018
    Meh. A bit too slapsticky. Would have been better if it hadn't spent so much time focused on football.
    Ed K Super Reviewer
  • Sep 06, 2018
    I've liked a decent amount Nick Park's work. I grew up on Wallace & Grommit and Chicken Run and enjoy them even now, but I think that maybe you have to like other things if you want to enjoy Early Man, things I personally, don't.
    Gimly M Super Reviewer
  • May 30, 2018
    Very sweet stop-motion animation film with a story by the numbers but a lot of adorable details while being a sports film at the same time, covering a pre-historic football match. It's mostly the spoofs on modern day details that work fantastically here, the story is predictable but engaging enough. A few more jokes instead of slapstick would have been great. Still, very enjoyable.
    Jens S Super Reviewer

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