Early Man takes us back to the dawn of man, with lead character Dug (Eddie Redmayne) looking very much like the cheese-loving Wallace with his goofy teeth.
Baddie of the piece goes to Lord Nooth (Tom Hiddleston) wanting to mine the ground, and it becomes a cross between the dawn of time and ancient Rome.
There’s a few amusing touches, such as a heavily bolted enemy door which is then topped off with a tiny lock, as well as some little bits here and there, like a man using a beetle like an electric shaver, but it ends up as a simple tale of good guys and bad guys, team bonding, a love story and a footy match to settle scores, and it all falls rather flat like a burst football.
For me, it wasn’t quite entertaining enough to pass a whole 90 minutes, and once it settles into its rut, you’re waiting for it to come to a conclusion (which comes 77 minutes in, before the long end credits). It’ll keep young kids engaged, but this claymation is not at all up there with the vintage of Wallace and Gromit, so it’s like they’ve not going the ideas to go with the concept. Remember the never-ending train track in The Wrong Trousers? The ingenious design and wit was incredible. In Early Man, it just feels like everyone’s going through the motions and putting animation to it.
Of course, what we all want is a second Wallace and Gromit movie, but sadly, the voice of Wallace, Peter Sallis, passed away last year. There’s always scope for an impersonation, but whether it would work is down to the production team.
However, if you like post-credits scenes, there’s sort-of one, as two dinosaurs, named Ray and Harry (after the late, great Ray Harryhausen, no doubt), are seen towards the end of the credits, waving to the camera.
The film is presented in the 1.85:1 theatrical widescreen aspect ratio and in 1080p high definition and for a Blu-ray of a modern film, you’d be surprised if the picture wasn’t spot-on, but when you’re shooting with a digital stills camera in 5.2K, it’s difficult to go wrong.
The sound is in 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio (and 7.1 Dolby Atmos, if you have enough speakers), and while there’s nothing majorly outstanding, there’s pleasant use of the rear speakers with some jungle sounds in 5.1, plus crowd scenes.
The extras are as follows:
- Featurettes (57:37): 7 of them ranging in length from 2:57 to 14:37, mixing in chat from the cast and crew with clips and behind the scenes footage from the film, all looking at the concept for the movie, concept artwork, voice acting, working at Aardman Studios, the football scene, and variations on the same themes.
- Audio Commentary: with director Nick Park and editor Sim Evans-Jones
The menu is a static one showing the characters, the main theme, Hope by The Vamps, playing in the background. Subtitles are in English only and chapters are the usual lacklustre 12. There are also trailers before the main menu for films I won’t name since they should be in the extras menu.
Running time: 89 minutes
Released: May 28th 2018
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: Dolby Atmos 7.1, DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH
Widescreen: 1.85:1 (Digital Stills (5.2K))
Disc Format: BD50
Director: Nick Park
Producers: Richard Beek, Peter Lord, Nick Park, Carla Shelley and David Sproxton
Screenplay: Mark Burton and James Higginson
Story: Mark Burton and Nick Park
Music: Harry Gregson-Williams and Tom Howe
Dug: Eddie Redmayne
Lord Nooth: Tom Hiddleston
Goona: Maisie Williams
Chief Bobnar: Timothy Spall
Queen Oofeefa: Miriam Margolyes
Message Bird / Brian / Bryan / Gonad the Gaul: Rob Brydon
Dino / Jurgend: Kayvan Novak
Treebor: Richard Ayoade
Magma: Selina Griffiths
Asbo: Johnny Vegas
Barry: Mark Williams
Gravelle: Gina Yashere
Grubup: Richard Webber
Eemak / Thongo: Simon Greenall
Hognob: Nick Park
Hügelgraber: Luke Walton
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.