For me, if an animated film has Aardman’s name behind it, I’m there. Even if bigger entities like Disney/Pixar, DreamWorks and others are guaranteed box office, Aardman is guaranteed delight. The force behind films including Chicken Run, Wallace & Gromit: The Curse Of The Were-Rabbit, Shaun The Sheep Movie, and Pirates! have taken their stop-motion magic and applied it to another winner. As I say in my video review above, and to put it in the simplest terms, Early Man is an early 2018 gift to family audiences, awesome fun for everyone, and wonderful animation from the best in the business.

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This one centers on cavemen, one in particular named Dug (Eddie Redmayne), who is tired of the same old routine of his tribe (not the brightest bulbs around) and their relentless hunting pursuit of bunny rabbits who tend to outsmart them at every turn. His interest lies in the emerging Bronze Age and its inhabitants, who live in a walled city with a big sports arena and what can only be called an early version of a soccer team. The film, set at the dawn of time, explains that the origins of the sport came with an asteroid that hit Earth and started getting kicked around like a ball.

Dug feels it is his destiny to put a ragtag team together and play, despite plans otherwise for his clan from the snooty Lord Nooth (Tom Hiddleston), who wants to take over the land and have the current inhabitants become miners on his behalf. Of course, if you know anything about these kinds of movies, Dug will find a way, and the match will be on thanks in part to a gigantic duck who helps come to the rescue, as well as a young woman named Goona (Maisie Williams) who also comes in handy. The film is chock full of fun characters, notably a too-efficient message bird (voiced hilariously by Rob Brydon), who parrots more info than was intended in his missives to the Queen of the Bronze; and a lovable but goofy pet of Dug’s named Hognob, a boar-ish creature who acts like a dog and just wants to play in the game. Timothy Spall is also around to lend voice to Chief Bobnar in the smart script full of one-off gags by writers Mark Burton and James Higginson. Redmayne is the ideal choice to voice Dug and immediately has us on the young caveman’s side and quest.

DreamWorks Animation actually had a similar setting for its The Croods, but Aardman’s take on the era is far more amusing and adroit. Aardman genius Nick Park directs for the first time since the Oscar-winning Were-Rabbit and shows he hasn’t lost his touch. After Paddington 2 and Peter Rabbit, the Brits are turning up the volume for family entertainment in 2018.

Early Man‘s animation directors are Merlin Crossingham and Will Becher. Producers are Richard Beek and Carla Shelley. Lionsgate releases this Friday. You ought to love it.

Do you plan to see Early Man? Let us know what you think.