18 February 2018 | RockoDaFoxxo
Even with some strong gags and enjoyable moments, it's only average.
I might be one of the few people on this planet that saw this over Black Panther. Sorry.
I really enjoy Aardman's work, especially from shows like "Shaun the Sheep" and "Wallace & Gromit". Their claymation is unique, the slapstick is inventive, the British wit is keen, the characters are endearing and the stories are funny. Only a few of these qualities could describe Early Man, a movie that's pleasant and wacky enough but felt rather uninspired. Which pains me, because I know Aardman could do better.
What are the positives? First off, the claymation has the same offbeat charm as almost every Aardman film ever, so expect that. A few jokes are inventive and got some giggles outta me (like the replay footage in a soccer game is a literal puppet show. Whenever the caveman team wins, the puppeteers wildly exaggerate what happened). Some of the details of how the cavemen live their lives was amusing. The pig was adorable and the end picks up its pace with an entertaining soccer game. Nick Park has a knack for world-building, and this was no different.
But I think that's where the main positives end. What shocked me the most was how formulaic the story was, since you could predict what EVERY SINGLE PLOT POINT was if you've seen enough animated movies. Some of the gags are clever and quirky, but a good chunk of them are also lazy and tired. It seems to rely on dumb puns ("looks like the caveman caved!") and overused physical humor over genuinely witty jokes. The "look at that caveman! He's so dumb!" running gag got old after the first 15 minutes and any chances for good absurdist humor (giant man-eating duck) lost its steam along the way. The CGI backgrounds look tacky and dull compared to the claymation, so it doesn't fit. The characters are likeable but also stereotypical (hero wants to save land, villain loves money, love interest is good at soccer, chief leader is cautious, sidekicks are dumb yet useful), just like the majority of this movie.
But it's not a painful watch. It's sometimes funny and amusing, but with every good moment you still have a thin premise, predictable plot and cliches to move the story forward as an amiable but weak experience. It's the type of movie you could show your kids on a Sunday afternoon or on an airplane, but the eccentricity, wit and creativity just isn't enough to make it worth seeing by yourself in a theater. You might smile, but it won't stick to your mind. It's not painfully average, but it isn't Wallace and Gromit. 5.5/10
I love that Shaun the Sheep 2 teaser though!