British stop-motion legends Aardman Animations (Wallace & Gromit, Chicken Run, Shaun the Sheep) have unveiled the latest teaser trailer for Early Man, a prehistoric family comedy starring Eddie Redmayne as an idiotic ancestor to modern man. Redmayne leads a cast full of stellar British talent, including Tom Hiddleston, Maisie Williams, Timothy Spall, Richard Ayoade, and comedian Johnny Vegas.
The film promises to provide a jovial take on ancient history, with Redmayne’s Dug struggling to come to terms with the end of the Stone Age (which consists of hunting rabbits in the woods) and the dawn of the Bronze Age (which apparently features sliced bread, organized sport and sliding doors). Lionsgate picked up the American distribution rights to Early Man earlier in the year, ensuring that a stateside release will take place.
It’s great to see that major companies like Lionsgate are still willing to support Aardman and their outmoded techniques, with the Brit company’s model-based animation style beginning to feel in of itself like a relic from a bygone era. However, as this new teaser trailer shows, there is still plenty of fun to be had with the mostly-abandoned creative endeavor of stop-motion animation.
The nostalgic feel of the stop-motion style seemingly lends itself very nicely to this jokey account of mankind’s humble origins. The simplicity of the clay figures brings the film’s cast of ne'er-do-well Neanderthals to life in an eye-catching way that modern CGI techniques arguably wouldn’t be able to match. From the gormless expressions on Dug’s face to the plump pomposity of Hiddleston’s Lord Nooth, there’s just something about this blend of olden times idiots and old-hat techniques that works wonderfully well.
However, you could argue that this trailer is a little bit light on the laughter front. Although the gag about sliced bread comfortably raises a wry smile, there’s nothing here that truly gets your sides-splitting with uncontrollable laughter. This trailer is adorably twee and therefore very enjoyable, but it doesn’t exactly sell the film as a laugh-out-loud comedy.
Here’s hoping that the powers-that-be have just decided, for a change, to leave the funniest bits out of the trailers. After all, the nostalgia factor and the star-studded cast are bound to earn Early Man a lot of goodwill. It would be a shame if audiences left the theater disappointed.
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