It’s sort of strange to say that Aardman Animations' new animated feature Early Man is one of the best sports films ever made. This is mainly due to the semi-misleading marketing and media presentation, in which they made the film seem more like an action comedy than a teamwork-building, sports comedy. Of course this isn’t really a bad thing. It was fun going into Early Man not knowing much of the plot. Now with that said, Early Man is in no way, shape, or form Aardman’s strongest work. In fact, it’s on par with some weaker entries such as Arthur Christmas and Flushed Away, two films which I thought were good but not all that great.
The main problem with Early Man is how the story is paced and told. Several moments in the film dragged on and elongated the pace of the film. While those elongated scenes were humorous for the most part, with its charming British humor, it mostly distracted from the core message and thematic tone of the film. Unfortunately, this happens a lot during Early Man. If it weren't for this big flaw, Early Man could have been one of the great animated films.
Narrative inconsistencies also cause some problems with Early Man. While the film is self-aware and knows what it wants to be, there were several moments in the film that were just plain odd and out of left field. A little 5 second clip may have helped in fact with this problem and wouldn’t have taken all that long to animate.
Speaking of animation, one of the strongest aspects of Early Man is its visuals. With each character movement and design, it’s almost as if you were in the world of the stone age and the bronze age. There were some moments of obvious and unimpressive CGI, but the animation itself is still quite beautiful. The voice acting was another strength in Early Man, a film in which the actors gave it their all. The most notable performance came from Tom Hiddleston, who gave a hilarious yet impactful performance as Lord Nooth, the primary antagonist of the film.
As stated before, Early Man is no Aardman masterpiece. It suffers from weak storytelling and execution, and needed to be more narratively consistent. However, it’s still a lot of fun. With it’s great voice work and visual flare, Early Man is definitely a positive upgrade from the norm. It’s fun, creative, and wildly enjoyable. This is simply a film that is entertaining for all ages and a decent watch if you're into hilarious British comedies.