May 29, 2018  (Web Review)

Early Man

Lionsgate, 89 min., PG, DVD: $24.99, Blu-ray/DVD Combo: $29.99, May 22

Reviewer rating: 2.0/4

The latest Claymation entry from U.K.-based Aardman Animations, Early Man—set sometime between the Stone Age and the Bronze Age—takes place around what is now Manchester, England, where the young Neanderthal Dug (voiced by Eddie Redmayne) suddenly finds himself and his haplessly inept, rabbit-hunting clan on the verge of eviction from their once-isolated forest. Greedy Lord Nooth (Tom Hiddleston) has dispatched his troops on bronze-armored mammoths to mine ore in their valley. Dug’s tribe’s future depends on winning a soccer showdown against Nooth’s formidable footballers. Fortunately, Dug’s ragtag inexperienced team is coached by Goona (Maisie Williams), who is not allowed to play on sexist Lord Nooth’s team. Director Nick Park’s Early Man may be the first prehistoric underdog sports movie, but it’s too bad that it’s not more original and inventive. All of the silly sight/sound gags are predictable and even clichéd, with many stemming from The Flintstones. Optional. [Note: DVD/Blu-ray extras include the production featurettes “Before the Beginning of Time: Crafting” (15 min.), “Nick Park: Massaging the Funny” (9 min.), “The Valley Meets the Bronze” (8 min.), and “Hanging at Aardman Studios: A Workshop Exploration” (8 min.). Exclusive to the Blu-ray are bonus DVD and UltraViolet copies of the film. Bottom line: a solid extras package for a disappointing Aardman film.] (S. Granger)