Review: Eighth Grade

DIR/WRI: Bo Burnham • DOP: Andrew Wehde • ED: Jennifer Lilly • PRO: Eli Bush, Tom Ishizuka, Scott Rudin, Christopher Storer, Lila Yacoub • DES: Sam Lisenco • MUS: Anna Meredith • CAST: Elsie Fisher, Josh Hamilton, Emily Robinson

 

Eighth Grade broke my heart and mended it again and I’m not ashamed to admit that. It is a bold, beautiful, brave film that signals bright, long lasting careers for writer and director Bo Burnham and lead actress Elsie Fisher. Eighth Grade is an awkward coming-of-age comedy, a cringing, squirming drama and, ultimately, a balm for social media wracked souls.

Kayla Day (Fisher) is in her last week of eighth grade in middle school. Her life is dominated by Snapchat, Instagram and social anxiety. Despite her dad Mark’s (Josh Hamilton) best efforts at convincing her otherwise, Kayla feels a desperate need to fit in with the ‘cool’ kids. As Kayla makes YouTube life-advice videos, goes to parties and makes friends she gradually realises that fitting in may not be all it’s cracked up to be.

Kayla’s YouTube videos are a stroke of genius. Filmed on her iMac’s poor quality webcam and punctuated by unscripted slip-ups and stuttering, they make for novel act breaks in the film. They often contradict each other as Kayla’s first video is about how “It’s like totally OK to just like, um, be yourself” whereas one in the middle focuses on faking it til you make it. Kayla’s sign-off of “Gucci!” is just the icing on the cake. Writer/director Burnham’s early career as a YouTube comedian and Vine star factors in here but it’s his empathy that’s the greatest surprise.

Much like the Netflix smash Big Mouth Burnham softens the edge of potentially cruel comedy with a heavy dose of empathy. Kayla’s arrival at a summer pool party is preceded by a claustrophobic anxiety attack in a locked bathroom. Kayla emerges in an unflattering swimsuit and observes her classmates dancing, splashing and texting in a montage set to booming electro-pop. Lesser films would faceplant in moments like these but Burnham directs with such a sure hand that all we can do is feel for Kayla and laugh at her awkward interaction with Gabe (Jake Ryan).

All of the performances in Eighth Grade orbit around Fisher. Kayla is the selfless centre of the film. Her endearing nature is only superseded by her awkwardness especially in scenes where she interacts with anyone older. Various scenes fight for their right to be the fulcrum of the film from the pool party to a horrible, pitch dark car ride but it’s a fireside conversation between Kayla and her doting father that really captures the spirit of the film. The movement from Kayla tossing a box of her “hopes and dreams” onto a fire to ungainly leaping into Mark’s arms feels natural and sentimental in a way that’s never saccharine.

For a film about awkwardness and growing up Eighth Grade is astonishingly well put together. Jennifer Lily’s masterful editing fades in Kayla’s slack-jawed expression over her Twitter feed, K-pop videos and Snapchat filtered selfies all while Anna Meredith’s bombastic, glitchy score sweeps over and through the film. The closeness of Andrew Wehde’s camera flows from claustrophobic to intimate as naturally as water from a tap. Make no mistake Eighth Grade is a landmark in the packed hall of coming-of-age stories and in its humour, pathos and authenticity it can stand tall with the best of them.

Andrew Carroll

93 minutes

15A (see IFCO for details)

Eighth Grade is released 26th April 2019

Eighth Grade – Official Website

 

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Review: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

DIR: Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman • WRI: Phil Lord • DOP: Bob Kelly • ED: Síle Ní Fhlaibhín • DES: Justin Thompson • MUS: Daniel Pemberton PRO: Avi Arad, Phil Lord. Christopher Miller, Amy Pascal, Christina Steinberg • CAST: Hailee Steinfeld, Nicolas Cage, Mahershala Ali, Liev Schreiber

It’s difficult to get Spider-Man wrong. It’s more difficult to get six versions of the character – all with their own distinct designs and personalities – right but Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse does it and then some. With a warm, pull-no-punches story and impeccable voice acting and animation Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse asserts itself as not just the best comic book movie of 2018 but as a defining moment in comic book movies.

Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) is bitten by a radioactive spider and after watching his universe’s Spider-Man (Chris Pine) die takes on the mantle to stop Kingpin (Liev Schreiber) and shut down the Super-Collider that will destroy New York. The Super-Collider has brought five other Spider-People into Miles’ universe. There’s the schlubby, older Peter Parker (Jake Johnson), the competent but aloof Gwen Stacy (Hailee Steinfeld), the Nazi punching Spider-Man Noir (Nicolas Cage), the anime-inspired Peni Parker (Kimiko Glenn) and Looney Tunes caricature Peter Porker/Spider-Ham (John Mulaney).

All of these characters get their moment in the sun but it’s Miles that the movie belongs to. Essentially an origin story Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse wears this fact proudly and twists it in a variety of interesting ways. Thrown in at the deep end with a useless teacher and little time to learn the ropes Miles’ trials and tribulation become the beating heart of a movie that’s never ashamed to make fun of itself or frightened to up end tropes such as the classic Uncle Ben moment.

The problem with a lot of big-budget animation films is that a famous voice cast can often treat it like an easy paycheque. Not here though. Cage is worth a particular mention with his performance drawing on classic actors from the 1930s like Bogart and Cagney. Mahershala Ali’s turn is heart-wrenching, and unusually but not unwelcomely so is Schreiber as a strangely relatable and hilariously animated Kingpin. But it’s the likes of Moore, Johnson and Steinfeld that ground the film in its very real, very affecting story.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse isn’t afraid to dive deep into grief and loss. The death of the original Spider-Man in Miles’ universe hits like a hammer blow in a protracted but never overstayed moment. This is helped by the animation which makes the New York of the film feel like a living, breathing city. The vibrant colours and techniques such as the inclusion of split screens, thought bubbles and ‘POW!’ exclamations remind that this film is not just a warm, funny and thoughtful story but a warm, funny and thoughtful comic book story.

At two hours Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse never rushes or drags. It was a film I was content to bask in with a world, no universe, that would be criminal not to revisit. Even the film’s end credits scene is worth staying for. Quality right to the end. As Marvel enters its darkest era yet Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is a reminder not only of how enjoyably bright these films can be but how enjoyably bright these films should be. The world is a grim place right now but Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is not just a light to rest by but one to be guided by.

Andrew Carroll

97 minutes
117 (see IFCO for details)
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is released 12th December 2018
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Review: Widows

 

DIR: Steve McQueen • WRI: Gillian Flynn, Steve McQueen • DOP: Sean Bobbitt • ED: Joe Walker • DES: Adam Stockhausen • PRO: Iain Canning, Steve McQueen, Arnon Milchan, Emile Sherman, Sue Bruce Smith • MUS: Hans Zimmer • CAST: Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki

Genre and literary forms often don’t mix that well. At least that’s the consensus of snobs and people that think Nicolas Cage’s best film is Leaving Las Vegas. But genre cinema has had a great renaissance recently with the likes of Mandy, The Shape of Water and Mission Impossible: Fallout all being heaped with praise. The more highbrow, literary if you will, form of cinema has always been in good stead. But when mixed together something magical can happen between the two. It depends on who the mixer is but when it’s Steve McQueen magic is almost guaranteed.

So it is with Widows. When four criminals are killed in a police ambush the man they were stealing from, Jamal Manning (Brian Tyree Henry), approaches their widows to get his money back. Veronica (Viola Davis) the widow of leader Harry Rawlins (Liam Neeson) approaches the other widows fiery Linda (Michelle Rodriguez), naïve Alice (Elizabeth Debicki) and workaholic Belle (Cynthia Erivo) to complete their husbands’ last score. Mixed up in this brutal tale are politician Jack Mulligan (Colin Farrell), Jamal’s sadistic brother Jatemme (Daniel Kaluuya) and Jack’s aging father Tom (Robert Duvall).

Trauma rests at the heart of McQueen’s films. Whether that trauma consumes its victims or is weaponised by them depends on the film but in Widows it becomes a weapon that often seems to harm both sides. Anyone that knows grief will tell you it is often raw. It can burn like fire, bleed like a wound or chill like ice but it is always there as a blistering, cutting force on the soul. Widows examines it from all angles. Characters often face it as much as they flounder in it. Whether it’s grief over an irreparable relationship, a dead partner or stolen millions. It’s there and it bleeds.

McQueen co-wrote Widows with Gone Girl novelist and screenwriter Gillian Flynn. After Sharp Objects this year Flynn may as well be considered an expert in trauma as a tool in genre. The characters of Veronica and Alice are the strongest with Davis plastering a stony, glamorous veneer over Veronica’s crumbling emotional walls. Debicki meanwhile portrays Alice as a woman thrilled by the newfound power that criminality offers her. The relationships the widows shared with their husbands are outlined in brief scenes that get done in two minutes what most films take two hours to thrash out. All are complex, loving in their own way and all have their problems.

It’s been a bad year for heist films. Den of Thieves tried to do Heat with Gerard Butler, which speaks for itself. Ocean’s 8 was all class and no character. Widows is the late-year entry this genre was desperate for. Cinematographer Sean Bobbitt shoots Chicago as a grim, cold, claustrophobic place. Hans Zimmer’s score ratchets up the tension and glimmers with soul. Kaluuya and Henry radiate a sinister silence while Neeson inverts the prototypical tough guy he often plays into a pathetic, broken man.

Widows might not rank highly among McQueen’s fans but it’s the only one of his films I’d consistently watch again as a film fan. It’s a film with plenty of muscle on strong bones and rich blood coursing through its veins. The same things can be said of Hunger or Shame or 12 Years A Slave but it’s hard to watch any of those and come away feeling good. McQueen and Flynn indulge themselves in escapism but Widows never feels less incisive for it. It is a masterful film made by a man at the peak of his powers. It’s not Heat, it’s better.

 

Andrew Carroll

129 minutes
16 (see IFCO for details)
Widows is released 5th November 2018

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Review: Mandy

DIR: Panos Cosmatos• WRI: Panos Cosmatos, Aaron Stewart-Ahn • DOP: Benjamin Loeb • ED: Brett W. Bachman, Paul Painter • DES: Hubert Pouille • PRO: Nate Bolotin, Daniel Noah, Josh C. Waller, Elijah Wood • MUS: Jóhann Jóhannsson • CAST: Nicolas Cage, Andrea Riseborough, Linus Roache

 

There are very few actors out there – especially former Oscar winners – that you could get to do what Nicolas Cage does in Mandy. From crushing skulls to lighting a cigarette off a burning severed head to snorting cocaine off a shard of glass, Cage does it all and more. But Mandy is not just a movie destined to be confined to the midnight-movie circuit. It makes you wait for its mind-bending visuals and grindhouse violence. It’s to director Panos Cosmatos’ credit that Mandy never falters in its singular but multi-faceted and surreal vision. Beyond the blood and bone there’s something almost tender that barely any other movie of this kind can boast.

Lumberjack Red (Nicolas Cage) lives a life of solitude with his girlfriend Mandy (Andrea Riseborough) in the Shadow Mountains in 1983. Surrounded by high peaks and tall pines they enjoy a peaceful existence only occasionally upset by both characters’ past traumas. On her way to work one day Mandy draws the interest of Jeremiah Sand (Linus Roache), a failed musician and leader of the Children of the New Dawn – a Manson-esque cult. The cult kidnaps Mandy, and Red embarks on a blood-crazed, cocaine fuelled revenge quest.

Mandy is about two hours long and it takes about half of that time to really get going. Cosmatos uses that time to lower the audience steadily into the world he’s dreamed up. The most common colour of the film is red from the crimson filters on camera lenses at the beginning to the blood that oozes, gushes and spurts in the second half of the film. Neon green alludes to the fantastical imaginings of Mandy as well as to the crazed bikers Sand commands later on. Colour abounds in Mandy and it is helped along by the grainy, pulpy look of the film itself as if it was shot on actual film reel. Brief animation segments raise their heads and so too does a mac ‘n’ cheese ad featuring a puppet goblin that vomits the cheesy goo. Rather than distract, these brief segments add to the ’80s feel of the film that never falls into homage or pastiche.

Cage and Riseborough’s performances could take place at any time realistically but the 1980s timeframe suits these characters and their actions within it. When Mandy at last revs into full gear it never really lets up until the credits roll. Red crafts a battle axe of solid, shining steel; picks up a crossbow from ’80s character actor Bill Duke (Commando, Predator) and then Red goes to war. In the last hour of the film Red sets a tiger free, shoves the shaft of his axe down a man’s throat and fights a chainsaw duel in a quarry. All lit by what seem to be the blood red fires of hell and scored to Jóhan Jóhannsson’s final score. The music throbs, swells and rumbles as Cage slices, roars and howls his way through the movie.

It can be hard to empathise with Nicolas Cage. His most insane roles have often found him playing barely likeable lunatics but with Mandy it’s pretty easy. A scene in the bathroom soon after Mandy’s kidnap has Cage howling and shrieking in feral animal pain. He swigs from a bottle of vodka and roars out all the pain and misery Red is afflicted with. If this is the only truly empathetic Nicolas Cage performance that is also the most insane Nicolas Cage performance than I think that Cage can count himself among the world’s greatest actors, living or dead. In a similar way – by virtue of being so committed to its fantastical world and nightmarish visuals – Mandy can count itself as one of the best grindhouse films ever made.

 

 Andrew Carroll

121 minutes
Mandy is released 12th October 2018

 

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A Second Look at ‘Red Sparrow’

Andrew Carroll takes a bird’s eye view on Francis Lawrence’s hollow spy thriller.

Pain and injury visited on the female body has a long and storied history in cinema. It also proves to be very popular unfortunately. One only needs to look at the critical and commercial success of the likes of Mad Max: Fury Road, Sicario and Atomic Blonde. The difference between these films and Red Sparrow is that the women in the former films all maintain some degree of choice or agency. Dominika, Jennifer Lawrence’s character, does not and no matter how much the film attempts to convince us otherwise it all ultimately rings hollow.

Dominika is a former ballerina who, after an injury, is forced to look for other methods to care for her ailing mother. Her uncle Ivan (a scarily Putinesque Mathias Schoenaerts) offers her training as Sparrow, a seductive spy, so that her mother may continue to benefit from state care. Dominika is trained and sent to Budapest to uncover an American mole in the Russian intelligence service. Included in the mix is CIA agent Nate Nash (Joel Edgerton) who attempts to recruit Dominika. What follows is overly long and attempts twists that result in the film nearly going off the rails at several points.

Continuously we are told that Dominika doesn’t have a choice; that she must be in the employ of cruel and sadistic spymasters. There are better and easier ways to care for an invalid relative even in Russia surely? Despite being trained as a seductress extraordinaire Dominika does very few unsavoury things, but a great deal of unsavouriness is brought down on her. From awkward sex scenes to rapeand on to torture Red Sparrow puts Dominika through a great deal, and none of it is necessary. Throughout the whole thing I just felt sorry for Jennifer Lawrence.

Director Francis Lawrence shoots what little action there is with a focussed brutality. A great deal of the fight scenes take place with one or more naked characters which is always tenser considering how vulnerable the naked body is. This would be fine if we cared about any of the characters at all. A fake Russian accent is always a bit of a turnoff and Jennifer Lawrence is no Meryl Streep when it comes to accents. The only convincing Russian in the whole film is Schoenaert’s; meanwhile Edgerton doesn’t even make for a convincing American. Others, such as Ciarán Hinds and Jeremy Irons, phone it in, which is surprising considering all they do is talk and smoke.

The story meanwhile is as bad as those telling it. This is Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy as told from the perspective of Xenia Onatopp in GoldenEye. It aims for a highly intelligent kind of spy thriller but with dialogue this banal and characters this simple it can’t hope to achieve much. Anyone hoping for a stylish, fluid action thriller a la John Wick or Atomic Blonde will be sorely disappointed. Despite the occasional glimmers of style, Red Sparrow flies right past dumb fun and smacks right into dumb.

Red Sparrow feels very by the numbers. Its plot seems to be following a requisite number of twists and expository moments interspersed with some truly horrible scenes of sadistic violence. This film is not for the faint of heart. At the beginning a drill whirrs into bone. That sets the tone for the rest of Red Sparrow – now if only the story was less painful than its torture scenes.

 

 

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Review: Tomb Raider

DIR: Roar Uthaug • WRI: Geneva Robertson-Dworet, Alastair Siddons • PRO: Graham King  DOP: George Richmond • ED: Stuart Baird, Tom Harrison-Read, Michael Tronick • MUS: Junkie XL • DES: Gary Freeman • CAST: Alicia Vikander, Hannah John-Kamen, Walton Goggins

 

Adapting video games into films takes a great deal of hard work. The two are inherently different mediums with very little in common. Video games are interactive in both mental, emotional and physical ways. Films are only interactive in the latter two categories. And yet people keep trying to smooth the edges between the two because, well, video games are the biggest entertainment industry in the world and with Tomb Raider the crossover potential is huge.

Lara Croft (Alicia Vikander) is a young heiress shirking her responsibilities in London until Ana Miller, (Kristin Scott Thomas) a partner in the multi-million-dollar company Croft Holdings, convinces Lara to declare her father Richard (Dominic West) legally dead and claim her birth right. Instead Lara goes gallivanting across the globe to a hidden island to find her father. With her is ship captain Lu Ren (Daniel Wu) and on her tail is jaded mercenary Mathias Vogel (Walton Goggins).

Tomb Raider is based off the reboot of the game series that was released in 2013. It’s an origin story and quite an average one at that. Full of tropical locales, mercenaries and ancient tombs Tomb Raider is neither daring nor boring. Its action sequences are quite CGI heavy but the fact that most of them – besides a stunningly lit shipwreck scene – take place in the daytime is a relief. Lara is often left battling her environment as much as the thugs in sweat-stained shirts. An escape from an old World War II plane manages to be both thrilling and true to the same event in the game.

Alicia Vikander is committed to her role which is something never really seen in video-game adaptations. Timothy Olyphant shaving his head for Hitman in 2007 doesn’t count. From the very start it’s quite clear from all the lean muscle on display that Vikander went all in to portray the action heroine as most people now know her. Despite all this, there’s not a great deal of emotional range in the character or even in the film. Walton Goggins just seems tired even when it looks as though he’s about to win. Dominic West never achieves much more than sad man with a mullet. Daniel Wu is underused, and it feels like there’s a few key scenes missing for his character.

On the technical side of things Tomb Raider is almost flawless. The action, from a bike race at the beginning to one-on-one fight scenes later, is kinetic and clear cut. Lara’s skin-of-her-teeth escapes are, as previously stated, very heavy on the average quality CGI but that’s a small price to pay just to see her escape a plane dangling over a waterfall. Tom Holkenborg’s score booms and blasts as George Richmond’s camera moves in quick but never confused fashion.

Tomb Raider is a good adaptation of its source material and one of the more viable properties to create a film franchise from but it stops there. There will never be a perfect game adaptation, even a great one is unlikely. The mediums are too different to ever really gel in a way that could conceivably work or please the vast majority. Still, Tomb Raider is a hell of an action movie and if that’s what the people want I say give to them.

Andrew Carroll

12A (See IFCO for details)

117 minutes
Tomb Raider is released 16th March 2018

Tomb Raider – Official Website

 

 

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Review: Den of Thieves

DIR/WRI: Christian Gudegast • PRO: Gerard Butler, Mark Canton, Tony Grazia, Alan Siegel, Tucker Tooley  DOP: Terry Stacey • ED: David Cox, Joel Cox, Nathan Godley • MUS: Cliff Martinez • DES: Kara Lindstrom • CAST: Gerard Butler, Pablo Schreiber, Jordan Bridges

 

Films and video games are two separate art forms and never the twain shall meet unless it’s in an exceptionally bad adaptation. Den of Thieves doesn’t seem to understand this. Its characters move and talk like they’re in a Call of Duty game about cops and robbers. Interspersed between scenes of beefcakes in tight t-shirts and scuffed leather jackets shooting each other are some truly awkward scenes of family drama and a lot of tactical planning. It’s something only Gerard Butler could make in a way that is painfully unironic and, at times, painfully offensive.

 

Gerard Butler plays the hard-bitten Sheriff Big Nick of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department who is keeping tabs on ex-military bank robbers Ray Merrimen (Pablo Schreiber), Levi Benson (50 Cent) and Donnie Wilson (O’Shea Jackson Jr.). The gun-toting, brass-balled muscle men all eventually come together in one big heist and climactic gun battle that, while satisfying, is a slog to get towards. Oh and Big Nick has some family drama that is never resolved and isn’t worth talking about.

 

The script from director and producer Christian Gudegast puts together a decent heist sequence that takes an hour and forty minutes to get to. Building up to the gung-ho sequence of gunfire and tightrope tension are ho-hum scenes of family drama and police corruption that will either offend, bore or fizzle out before anything worthwhile can be squeezed from them. All of the characters outside of the leads look like stuntmen and MMA fighters drafted in just for the purposes of getting shot.

 

Gerard Butler’s Big Nick, stupid name by the way, borders on the edge of the almost-racist, trigger-happy cop character that would have passed in the 1980s but only serves as discomfiting now. Schreiber and 50 Cent are essentially meatheads, calculating meatheads but meatheads nonetheless. The twist comes in the form of the supposedly out of his depth Donnie Wilson. Still, since Wilson is so one-note and flat, the twist never feels earned or necessary. Ironically Den of Thieves, despite all the military jargon and loud gunshots, feels very safe.

 

There are moments of depth to Gudegast’s film. Unfortunately they come in the form of long tracking shots where no characters are heard or seen. Set in Los Angeles, these long, gliding movements only serve to remind that the city has far more character than those that occupy it. Gudegast shoots the action steady in a way that calls to mind neither the smoothness of John Wick nor the choppiness of the Bourne series. It rests somewhere in the middle and that is probably the best way to sum up Den of Thieves.

 

Were it not for the relatively exciting heist and the thrilling gun battle that finishes it, Den of Thieves would be a very bad film. Instead, it flounders just below the average mark. It pays homage to the likes of Heat but never comes close to emulating or even imitating the greatness of previous heist films.

Andrew Carroll

15A (See IFCO for details)

139 minutes
Den of Thieves is released 2nd February 2018

Den of Thieves– Official Website

 

 

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Review: Early Man

DIR: Nick Park • WRI: Mark Burton, James Higginson  PRO: Richard Beek, Peter Lord, Nick Park, Carla Shelley, David Sproxton  DOP: Charles Copping, Dave Alex Riddett, Paul Smith, Peter Sorg • ED: Sim Evan-Jones • MUS: Harry Gregson-Williams, Tom Howe • CAST: Tom Hiddleston, Maisie Williams, Eddie Redmayne

Aardman has been the go-to house for stop-motion animation for the past quarter century. With four Academy Awards to their name even the studio’s missteps such as Flushed Away are still adored by many. Their latest film Early Man maintains its distinct British charm and unique stop-motion models though it can’t quite reach the heights of classics such as Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit and Chicken Run though it does possess something special of its own.

Caveman Dug (Eddie Redmayne) lives a contented life with his pet boar Hognob (director Nick Park) and tribe in a lush crater valley. The arrival of a Bronze Age society led by Lord Nooth (Tom Hiddleston) upsets the tribe’s peaceful existence forcing them out into the viciously volcanic Badlands. Dug realises the only way to win the valley back is by challenging the Germanic invaders to their sacred, traditional game: football.

That’s the crux of the film, football, which happens to be a lot more interesting when it’s played by clay models with big teeth. The story is watertight lasting long enough to fully realise all of its potential as well as keeping younger viewers entertained for the duration. Dug has the ambition of Ginger from Chicken Run and the amicability of Wallace of the studio’s most famous duo. Redmayne steps away from his more serious or nervy roles to give an endearing performance while Hiddleston pulls off a convincingly ridiculous French accent. The supporting cast are mostly passable with the likes of Richard Ayoade given little to work with and the excellent Rob Brydon given far too much as a messenger pigeon and two identical football commentators. The only true dud is Maisie Williams whose accent fails to land on any real destination.

Three destinations feature prominently in Early Man: the valley, the city and the Badlands. CGI is used to enhance backgrounds and moments that would normally be impossible to animate using traditional stop-motion. It never distracts from the iconic characters however who all come across as personalities drawn from all walks of British life. Details that have been there since Aardman’s earliest days still remain. Fingerprints on clay, a dusting of hair from false eyebrows and the classic big-toothed grin every character proudly displays. Still, the weight of past achievements weighs on both the studio and the films it produces.

Early Man struggles to maintain the same amount of whimsy all of its earlier films had. A film that heavily features dinosaurs is hard to inject whimsy into although it tries it’s hardest. Alongside this the choice of the fiery wastes and brown and grey city outside of the tribe’s verdant valley often make the film’s location dull and boring to look at. Though not of the same calibre as their most paradigmatic work Early Man will undoubtedly be recognised as an instant classic.

Andrew Carroll

PG (See IFCO for details)

88 minutes
Early Man is released 26th January 2018

Early Man – Official Website

 

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