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Caveman caper ‘Early Man’ is a prehistoric pleasure – CNET

There’s nothing simple about stop-motion animation, that laborious filmmaking technique that requires tiny movements of intricate models to make even a few seconds of footage. Yet “Early Man“, the latest stop-motion confection from “Wallace and Gromit” producer Aardman, proves to be the simplest of pleasures.

“Early Man” is a pure joy from start to finish. The story of a tribe of simple cavemen threatened by the arrival of more advanced rivals is rendered in the signature style of Oscar-winning animator and director Nick Park. That includes both the instantly recognisable toothy plasticine character design and the dizzyingly joyous humour, all sight gags and shameless puns and weapons-grade whimsy.

As always with Aardman, utterly charming characters anchor even the most surreal flights of fancy. Eddie Redmayne eagerly provides the voice of the youngest caveman, the irrepressible Dug. He’s a whirlwind of energy and ambition among his dim-witted tribe, voiced by various British comedy stalwarts, before meeting his match in plucky Goona, played by Maisie Williams. They’re menaced by rapacious Bronze Age oligarch Lord Nooth, voiced by Tom Hiddleston with a French accent broader than a boulevard and riper than a month-old Brie.

The film largely takes place in a verdant valley, a beautifully rendered prehistoric paradise in which every tree took weeks for the animators to sculpt. This attention to detail is present in every part of the film — look out for comic newspaper headlines and other rich background detail. Another highlight is a set of dinosaurs deliberately designed to evoke the pioneering stop-motion of Ray Harryhausen.