EARLY MAN (2018 MOVIE) OFFICIAL U.S. TRAILER – EDDIE REDMAYNE, TOM HIDDLESTON, MAISIE WILLIAMS
Hailing from director Nick Park, one of the masterminds behind the stop-motion-animated antics of Wallace & Gromit, “Early Man” seems like a fertile idea. The movie, alas, turns out to be closer to a primordial mess, which — in its mix of soccer and Stone Age politics — registers several runs below Aardman Studios’ usual place on the evolutionary ladder.
At a glance, the idea of Stone Age man running into their more advanced Bronze Age cousins seems promising, if only as an environment for visual gags. But Park and his writing team then morph that into a dispute that must be settled on the soccer field, turning this into a prehistoric sports-underdog story, which proves every bit as tiresome as that sounds.
“Early Man” represents Park’s first solo directing effort, and it’s also the company’s first feature since the Wallace & Gromit movie “The Curse of the Were-Rabbit” in 2005 (preceded by “Chicken Run”). The producers certainly didn’t have trouble attracting a high-profile vocal cast, headlined by Eddie Redmayne as Dug — the Caveman who leads his tribe into battle — Tom Hiddleston as Lord Nooth, the bad guy that ousts them from their idyllic valley; and Maisie Williams (“Game of Thrones”) as Goona, a young woman from the Bronze society who helps Dug, in part because she’s not allowed to play due to her gender.
There is, frankly, a lot going on here, most of it plucked, awkwardly, from other movies: A little “Rocky” here — including the protracted training sequence — pinch of “One Million Years B.C.” there in the clash of primitive cultures, and so on. (There are also several more bizarre elements thrown in that fall largely flat, such as a dinosaur-sized duck.)