This year is a big year for sports with both Winter Olympics and The World Cup ringing in the sporting events that we all flock too. The latter event in particular is one of the most recognizable sports of all time and a big influence for a variety of games, television series and of course movies. My review today is one of those movies, about this international sensation that tries to put a comedic spin on the potential origins of this obsession. As you’ve read, today’s review is on the latest animated adventure Early Man, the stop motion/clay animation like movie to try to charm the modern-day audience. What is in store? As always read on to find out!
Animation: No surprise, an animated movie has good animation, but Early Man gets bonus points in terms of using more traditional methods to make the story come to life. This film’s animation is solid, with fluid motion being beautifully presented as they practice stone age soccer. I admire the fact that they did not take short cuts in this film and appreciate the unique character design that the studio presented, no matter how odd they look. Early Man certainly isn’t the prettiest of the animated features, but it does net points in the unique category.
Story: Yes, the movie is certainly one of the more childish based movies, but the story is surprisingly deeper than you might be imagining. Early Man is indeed a comedy centered in soccer and trying to have the little guy beat the big guy. However, loaded with this time-tested tale is a story that involved building confidence, the development of the mentor, and of course the quality of teamwork. These values are well-crafted into the fun at hand, putting some relevance to the antics at hand. And of course, the movie is wrapped up in that family friendly package you G-PG seekers are looking for, though be warned there are a few words (not cursing related) that may be repeatable by little ears.
Clever: Early Man is certainly not the most unique story, but the humor has a bit more wit behind the mindless babbling that sometimes comes out. The writers settle on the British style of laughs, using accent heavy presentations, pokes at popular cultures, and some inside, cultural reference jokes that I thoroughly enjoy. While the movie has a lot of slapstick for kids, the adults will get some chuckles at these references, some of which are indeed only understandable by older ears.
The Pig: One character that particularly stands out is the pig. This studio always seems to give more prowess to their animal characters than humans, with Hognob being no exception to the rule. Semi-anthropomorphized, Hognob has the most dynamic nature of all the cast of heroes. With little, to no words, the pig is able to bring a lot of feelings to the scene while also bringing the most laughs. His constant attempts to save his masters, act as a decoy, and even training with the team makes for some entertainment.
Too Silly: Despite the cleverness behind the movie, Early Man is still geared toward the younger audiences. Therefore, the silly, kiddy factor takes the helm and steers it headlong into that area. All the slapstick humor of soccer injuries, impossible chases, and attempting to devour various people/animals are going to be the majority of the humor you’ll see. It is well timed at certain points, but this humor got stale quickly for me and sometime was unimpressive.
Anticlimactic: The premise of the film was soccer match between the stone and bronze age, therefore you were hoping for a semi-epic match against the two. Unfortunately, the exciting climax actually gets diluted by the funny business, reduced to a few quick plays, some over the top slapstick, and a very lackluster finale. It seems like they still need to take a page from Disney, and actually deliver on a big bang finale to make the journey worth it. Had they been able to expand upon this, add some more tension, and smarten up the comedy a little more, the older audience members could have enjoyed this.
Rushed/Lacking: In a world owned by the mega studio Disney, unique is hard to come by without their big-time budget. Early Man is certainly a unique idea, but the problem was they didn’t deliver through with it. Much like the climax, the movie failed to put our characters through ordeals to make them have meaningful development. Despite being cute, and somewhat funny, most of the characters have difficulty with being relatable, resulting in a slightly dull group. In addition, the desire to appease to a younger crowd also had this movie pacing blindingly fast and therefore leaving little room for actual plot building. While by far not the worst tale to drop into theaters, Early Man still needs work for any future sequels.
Early Man is an animated feature that gets points for the hard work of stop motion animation. It’s a cute adventure that has a family friendly story, with a couple of characters that will make you laugh at various points. The problem is, that the movie was focused too much on the younger audience and failing to expand into the territories needed for older members. Early Man’s concept needed more developing and attempt to moisten the dry comedy this movie has contained within it. In addition, the film needed a little more friction to add thrills to the story, thereby getting more engaging characters to latch onto. Worth a trip to the theater? You are better off checking out Peter Rabbit instead, but I’d save this one for a home rent.
Movie Overall: 5.5