Adventure Animation

‘Early Man’ Blu-ray Review: A Brief History of English Football, Aardman Style

May 28, 2018Ben MK

Dug (Eddie Redmayne) is a caveman on a mission. When the bronze-crazed Lord Nooth (Tom Hiddleston) and his minions invade the peaceful, lush valley he and his tribe of eleven call home, Dug and his fellow neanderthals find themselves driven into the dangerous and barren Badlands, where volcanoes spew and giant, man-eating mallards roam.

Now, in order to reclaim their home and stop Nooth from turning their once beautiful valley into a mine, Dug must find a way to beat the Bronze Age invaders at their own game — English football. Embarking on a hilarious journey full self-empowerment, self-discovery and prehistoric gags, Dug is determined to reconnect his tribe with the sport their very ancestors pioneered, and teaming up with a new friend named Goona (Maisie Williams), he sets out to prove that these cavemen can be more than just simple rabbit hunters — they can be champions.

From director Nick Park, the creative mind behind such whimsical animated features as The Curse of the Were-Rabbit and Chicken Run, Early Man is a stop-motion adventure 65 million years in the making. And with terrific performances from Redmayne, Williams and Hiddleston, plus a delightful supporting cast that includes Timothy Spall, Miriam Margolyes and Rob Brydon, this is one that kids of all ages will enjoy.

Early Man doesn't reinvent the Stone Age wheel when it comes to its Blu-ray presentation, but that doesn't mean this 1080p encode and DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix is anything but fantastic in every regard. Image quality is sharp as a tack and colors are vibrant, revealing all the handcrafted nuances in the clay models and their environments, from the greenery of the valley and the scorched landscape of the Badlands, to the golden accoutrements of Lord Nooth's castle. Meanwhile, on the audio side, everything from Hiddleston's over-the-top French accent to an erupting volcano, cheering crowds, and the clinking of coins comes across with crystal clarity.

Entertainment One's two-disc Blu-ray combo pack includes a DVD copy of the film, an iTunes digital copy and the following Blu-ray extras:

  • Match of the Clay (2:56) - Watch as a group of 1,000 people at Bristol's Memorial Stadium record audio for Early Man's football match sequences.
  • The Birth of Early Man (8:08) - A look at the origin of the story, the design of the characters, the voice acting, and the overall scope of the project.
  • The Evolution of Early Man (8:00) - A more in-depth look at the vocal performances of Eddie Redmayne, Tom Hiddleston and Maisie Williams, plus a look at the use of live-action reference footage, the larger-scale models used in the film, the cinematography, the humor and the music score.
  • Director's Commentary - Director Nick Park and Editor Sim Evan-Jones chat about the tactile feel of the movie, the sparing use of computer graphics, the score from composers Harry Gregson-Williams and Tom Howe, the film's sense of humor and the gags, the actors' performances, the character and model design, and more.

Early Man is available from eOne Films as of May 22nd, 2018. The Blu-ray features English and French DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 tracks, and is presented with English SDH subtitles. The total runtime is 1 hr. 29 min.

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