early man trailer

While hand-drawn animation seems to be all but extinct in the feature film business, claymation will make one last gasp for relevancy with a new film by the talented creators and animation studio behind the still-great Wallace and Gromit.

Lo and behold Early Man, the stop-motion animated film from Aardman Studios about a caveman who discovers that civilization has quickly advanced all around him — immediately making him and his tribe endangered. Wow, it sounds like they’re sending some kind of message here…

The Early Man trailer follows Dug, a spunky caveman a living happily with his tribe, who suddenly is faced with technologically advanced attackers. The Bronze Age invaders — who seem like a cross between Vikings and Romans — accidentally bring Dug back to their city while mining for precious stones, and Dug is aghast at how the world has changed without him knowing. Thrown into a gladiator ring and faced with his tribe’s impending extinction at the mercy of these advanced invaders, Dug decides to make a last stand alongside his tribe to assert their right to live in peace.

The trailer gives me shades of the Asterix and Obelix comics — especially with the conflict between the more “primitive” Vikings as they fend off invading “civilized Romans — as well as a comforting reminder of the classics made by Aardman Studios, who were responsible for some of my favorite childhood films like Chicken Run and Wallace and Gromit. Not just in the animation style, but the clever zaniness — The Early Man feels as much an exercise in silly misadventures as it does a lesson in the conflict of new vs. old.

I didn’t mean to read so much into the conflict and draw the parallels between the dying modes of animation that aren’t CG, but Early Man does feel like an allegory for the domination of CG animation. There’s no denying that some of the best animated movies today are made in CG, but as an animation enthusiast, I can’t help but mourn the loss of different art forms. Stop-motion and hand-drawn animation are arduous and time-consuming, but there’s an earthiness to both of them that CG hasn’t yet been able to capture.

Here’s the synopsis for Early Man:

Set at the dawn of time, when prehistoric creatures and woolly mammoths roamed the earth, Early Man tells the story of Dug, along with sidekick Hognob as they unite his tribe against a mighty enemy Lord Nooth and his Bronze Age City to save their home.

See the poster for Early Man below.

early man poster

Early Man is set to hit U.K. theaters on January 26, 2018, and in U.S. theaters on February 16, 2018.

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