Will Nick Park’s “Early Man” Be as Big a Hit as “Wallace and Gromit”?

Matthew Loffhagen
Aardman Animation
(Photo: Aardman Animation)

A new trailer for Nick Park’s latest Claymation movie, “Early Man”, is here, and it certainly looks interesting.

Apparently, this movie is some kind of sports underdog story, with a group of tribal (British) humans playing soccer against their (weirdly European) technologically superior enemies.

Underlying Brexit themes aside, this film trailer certainly has a lot of charm, and it comes from a good pedigree.

Nick Park is the creator of “Wallace and Gromit” and “Chicken Run”. If you’ve seen a stop-motion movie in the past twenty years that wasn’t sinister and creepy, you probably have this guy to thank for it.

But will “Early Man” be able to live up to previous movies from the Academy Award-winning Nick Park? This movie certainly does seem to have his unique charm, but the same can be said of other movies that have employed his particular art style in the past.

It’s worth noting that the trailer for “Early Man” deliberately doesn’t mention “Flushed Away” or “Pirates in an Adventure With Scientists”, two other films from production company Aardman Animation that both looked for all the world like an extension of the Wallace and Gromit universe.

These films aren’t remembered as being particularly fantastic, and certainly don’t have the same enduring appeal as “Curse of the Were-Rabbit” or “The Wrong Trousers”, two movies that feature Park’s most famous man-and-dog duo.

“Pirates” in particular feels like a somewhat confusing film, as if half the production team were really, desperately giving it their all, while the other half was lounging about and slacking off.

Pirates
Source: Aardman Animation

Were it not for these slightly low-effort contributions to the Aardman aesthetic, it’d be easier to get excited about “Early Man” – a solid successor to “Chicken Run” and similar movies after a long time.

As it stands, though, it seems like the best approach here is cautious optimism. It might be that this movie turns out to be incredible, but for now, it might be worth assuming that it’ll be just okay, rather than the kind of generational obsession that “Wallace and Gromit” became in its heyday.

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