Not only are animated movies not just for kids, companies like Aardman Animations have turned quirky approaches to the art form into formulas for commercial and critical success. Aardman films are recognizable for their distinct form of animation, which uses stop-motion clay animation techniques and idiosyncratic British humor to bring characters to life.
Aardman has been in business for nearly 50 years, with the characters Wallace and Gromit as the company’s most popular calling cards. Now a new group of characters joins the Aardman Animations family in the film EARLY MAN, which sends audiences back to the stone age. Could the studio have another box office hit on their hands?
Welcome to the Bronze Age
EARLY MAN journeys back to the dawn of time to find the tale of caveman named Dug and his pet boar, Hognob. Dug and his trusty sidekick are members of a tribe of Stone Age cavemen and women who lived peacefully until power-hungry tyrant, Lord Nooth, laid claim to their land, forcing the tribe out. Lord Nooth lives a life of luxury in the nearby Bronze city where he believes the Bronze Age is the only way to live.
Dug gathers his tribe and rallies against Lord Nooth in the hopes of winning back their land. The young caveman is a bit scrawny, but his big heart makes up for his small stature. Along with his mother, the tribe chief, and a crew of other characters, Dug leads his people in the most important challenge of their lives: a soccer match. Yep, Dug’s only chance to win back his land is defeating a soccer team from the Bronze Age city. At a major disadvantage, Dug must rely on his enthusiasm and positive attitude in motivating his tribe. Thankfully, he also finds help in a new friend Goona, a Bronze city vendor who becomes a key ally.
The Famous Voices Behind Early Man
The tale of prehistoric perseverance is the latest team-up between director Nick Park and Aardman Animations. Park was the creative mind behind Wallace and Gromit and the studio’s film CHICKEN RUN. Not only does Park direct the stop-motion picture, he voices Hognob. To be clear, as a wild boar, Hognob technically doesn’t talk, but he does communicate through grunts and expressions. His relationship with Dug could be compared to the bond between Wallace and Gromit. Here, Eddie Redmayne voices the pet’s human counterpart, EARLY MAN’s surprising hero, Dug.
Redmayne isn’t the only notable name involved with the film. Tom Hiddleston voices the greedy Bronze Age city leader, Lord Nooth. Game of Thrones alum Maisie Williams can be heard as Goona. Williams will trade in her British accent to voice the Scandinavian native making a life for herself in the Bronze city. Some of the other cast members behind the tribe include Timothy Spall, Richard Ayoade, Selina Griffiths, Johnny Vegas, Mark Williams, and Gina Yashere.
The Long-Running Success Of Aardman Animations
The studio behind EARLY MAN has a long-running trend of success with their feature films. Their 2000 animated hit, Chicken Run, remains the highest-grossing stop-motion film of all time. Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, which debuted in 2005, is still in the top five in terms of box office numbers. Many of their other films did notably well in theaters and received generally favorable reviews including Flushed Away, Arthur Christmas, The Pirates! Band of Misfits, and Shaun of the Sheep. Aardman even has a few Academy Award nominations under their belt and a win with Wallace and Gromit.
EARLY MAN premiered January 26, 2018 in the UK, and hits theaters February 16 in the United States.