Here's an animated prehistoric tale with a bit of whimsy, and some
cheeky British humor. The
voices also feature some “A” list English actors, which helps lend
some heft to an otherwise flighty piece of fluff, and brings to life the
quirky stop-motion claymation figures.
First, we have a Neanderthal sequence where the doomed humanoids
kick around a hot metor until they invent...soccer (or football, as it is
known in most of the rest of the world).
They even draw some crude sketches of themselves on their cave
walls: the first sports
section. Then the “big one” hits, blasting away all life on earth
(except the cockroaches, of course). Several
ages later, “Early Man” is in the Stone Age.
Our little tribe enjoys rabbit hunting.
(Though the bunnies turn out to be pretty clever themselves.)
Dug (the voice of Eddie Redmayne) is the main character, and he
keeps suggesting that the tribe might want to try hunting something
bigger---like wooly mammoths, for instance.
But their chief, Bobnar (the voice of Timonty Stall), likes to stay
true to their traditions. The
problem is, the world has changed around them and they don't even realize
Suddenly their peaceful little valley is invaded by giants from the
Bronze Age. Well, actually,
they aren't giants, but they build giant machines for themselves.
And they speak with French accents (nothing like reviving an
ancient enmity, even in jest). Their
leader, Lord Nooth (the voice of Tom Hiddleston), is imperious,
condescending, and merciless, which of course makes him the perfect foil.
Our little band of cavemen, including their pet pig, Hognob (grunts
voiced by Director Nick Park) are all captured and imprisoned, awaiting
sentencing to the bronze mines, where they will probably work like slaves
and be driven to an early demise.
But wait, there's a chance they might win their freedom:
if they are able to win the big soccer game, and defeat the
undefeated Bronze Age team. The
trouble is, our cavemen have forgotten how to play the sport.
But Dug points to the crude cave drawings they all remember, and
inspires them to at least try to field a team, even if their chances of
winning are about like the Jamaican bobsled team in the winter Olympics.
The breakthrough comes when Dug meets Goona (the voice of Maisie
Williams), an inhabitant of the Bronze Age city, but who hasn't been
allowed to play on her own team, because it's for men only.
But she's a great athlete herself, and quite willing to train our
awkward outsiders, who find themselves literally playing for their
freedom. But none of it seems
all that heavy. There's a
really amusing bit about a messenger bird who mimics (and yes, also mocks)
the message senders. We enjoy
seeing the good guys win through teamwork almost as much enjoy watching
the demise of the greedy and arrogant.
And the Queen Mum (the voice of Miriam Margolyes) is, of course,
It's cute and clever, but doesn't manage to achieve much emotional
connection with the viewers. Though
perfectly acceptable for youngsters, it probably won't become a children's
classic. Just a jolly good