Aardman Animations’ upcoming Early Man has more than a few distinct qualities in common with the critically-acclaimed animation studio’s previous output. The forthcoming stop-motion animated feature is directed by four-time Oscar winner Nick Park and revolves around one Dug (voiced by Oscar-winner Eddie Redmayne), a plucky caveman who sets out to save his tribe with the assistance of his silent animal companion, the warthog Hognob. Based on the Early Man footage and images released so far, Dug and Hognob will bring to mind another certain oddball human and his animal friend; namely, Aardman’s Wallace and Gromit.
The Early Man trailer preview, which was released online yesterday (at the time of writing this), contains even more overt references to beloved Aardman movie characters, in the form of cave paintings of Ginger from Chicken Run and Shaun the Sheep himself, among others. Aardman has now released the Early Man teaser trailer in full, providing a better look at the newest additions to Aardman’s growing collection of charmingly oddball, animated characters (with their equally charmingly oddball, toothy grins).
Redmayne is joined in the Early Man voice cast by Tom Hiddleston (Kong: Skull Island) and Maisie Williams (Game of Thrones) as, respectively, the film’s villain – “the ridiculously pompous” Lord Nooth – and Goona, the “gallant and indomitable” cavewoman who joins Dug and Hognob on their adventure. For more on what Dug’s hero journey entails as well as the tone/style of the movie in general, you should watch the Early Man teaser trailer, embedded above.
Park also released the following statement, regarding the voice actors behind the various members of Dug’s tribe in Early Man (who are glimpsed in the teaser):
“Today we get to meet Dug’s tribe, a loveable bunch of misfits voiced by some exceptional British talent. They’re essentially a group of inept cavemen and women including Treebor, played by Richard Ayoade, a gentle giant scared of his own shadow; Magma, Treebor’s no nonsense mother voiced by Selena Griffiths and Mark Williams as Barry, whose best friend is a rock. Chief Bobnar, voiced by the brilliant Timothy Spall, leads the pack as their long-suffering leader, and father figure to his tribe of idiotic brutes.”
Aardman, as an animation studio, is well-renowned for its fine-tuned visual comedic sensibilities, as illustrated by all of their previous work; ranging from the near-nonstop parade of visual gags on display in Aardman’s The Pirates! Band of Misfits to the entirety of Shaun the Sheep Movie – a film that, in essence, plays out as a silent comedy. Early Man does not look to disappoint in that respect either, as the teaser trailer points to Dug and his friends getting into all manner of entertaining shenanigans in a playfully-realized vision of a prehistoric world, where everything from dinosaurs to snooty “Bronze Age governors” roam the Earth.
With that in mind, however, Aardman’s output tends to have niche appeal here in the States, as evidenced by the fact that its last three film releases (Arthur Christmas, The Pirates! Band of Misfits and Shaun the Sheep Movie) all made less than $50 million at the domestic box office. Fortunately, between the relatively low budgets of their features and Aardman’s critical darling status, the studio doesn’t need Early Man to buck that trend, if it is to continue making films that please its fanbase, in the future.
Early Man opens in U.K. theaters on January 26th, 2018. We will let you know when it gets a U.S. theatrical release date.
Source: Studio Canal