The world may not be familiar with the name Aardman, but this is the animation team that has brought Wallace & Gromit, Shaun the Sheep and Rocky the Rooster (Chicken Run) to the world. The animation studios have won multiple awards for their films and have set themselves apart as a leader in the animation realm despite being outside the influence of Disney. Nick Park is one of the masterminds behind the success of the studio with four Academy Awards to his name and now he has created a new world with Early Man. What might be more accurate to say is he has created an ‘old world.’
Roaming through the world during the Stone Age, Dug (Eddie Redmayne) and his wild boar Hognob (Nick Park) work with their fellow clan to hunt for rabbits and survive in the valley that they have inhabited since the dawn of time. This simple existence is changed forever when Lord Nooth (Tom Hiddleston) and his band of men from the Bronze Age invade their beloved valley. Instead of being relegated to a life of mining for bronze, the clan of cavemen challenge their bronze foes to a battle on the ultimate battleground, the soccer pitch.
If audiences go into this film thinking that they are going to experience another run-of-the-mill movie about the evolution of mankind, they are not familiar with Aardman Animation Studios. There is nothing conventional in the creations of this team of stop-motion animators and this is especially true for Dug and his band of hairy friends. The story has more to say about the best and worst of the human heart while playing the world’s game. This does show the key weakness in the marketing of this film, because this is more of a story of the evolution of the game of soccer than of humanity.
For fans of Aardman’s quirky style of humour and animation, this cinematic outing has all of the standard elements that inhabit a word created by Nick Park. The large protruding eyes, the exaggerated features of the central characters and the ever-present nod to Monty Python-like comedy are there for the faithful followers, but it still offers enough unique elements to make this story a fresh option for families. The film’s content is accessible to all ages and is a safe option for parents who are looking for something for the young ones at the cinema.
Something for parents to consider from a film like Early Man is talking with their children about how mankind came to be on this earth. Some people may ask why this would be a consideration from a film about cave dwellers or one that has a farcical depiction of the world’s creation, but a narrative like this one does provide a natural opportunity to discuss this topic. For Christian parents, it does not mean you have to go into great detail from a biology textbook, but can share the account found in the Bible of the creation of humankind. This is a story that is understandable, engaging and depicts the value that God had in his greatest creation. Showing how God’s hands are all over every aspect of this world provides a wonderful family discussion.
Early Man is a fun adventure in a fictional world of animation that the whole family can enjoy. Even though it is a comedy, it also opens the door to a surprising discussion for families on the real story of the origins of humanity and how much God cherishes his creation, whether or not they like soccer.
Where do I start to share with my child about God’s creation?
Genesis 1-2, John 1, Hebrews 11:3