Aardman Animations has earned three Oscar nominations for Best Animated Feature and it looks like it could be reaping bid No. 4 with “Early Man,” which Lionsgate will release on this side of the pond next February. Set at the dawn of time, when prehistoric creatures and woolly mammoths roamed the earth, this charmer tells the story of Dug, a plucky caveman (voiced by Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne) who is determined to save his tribe from the tyranny of Lord Nooth (Tom Hiddleston). He is spurred on by his love for Goona (Maisie Williams).
By his side throughout his misadventures is his faithful companion, a warthog named Hognob. Watching them in action in the trailer above might well put in mind of two of “Early Man” director Nick Park‘s other creations, the hapless human Wallace and his dutiful dog Gromit. After he won his first Oscar for the animated short “Creature Comforts” in 1989, he devised this mismatched pair who starred in two Oscar-winning shorts — “The Wrong Trousers” (1993) and “A Close Shave” (1995) — before getting their own movie.
That one, “Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit” won Best Animated Feature in 2005. This marks Cave’s first film since then. He came up with the story, which was turned into a screenplay by Mark Burton and John O’Farrell, two titans of British comedy. Burton also co-wrote and directed “Shaun the Sheep Movie” for Aardman, which was bested at the Oscars by “Inside Out” in 2015. The other Aardman feature to contend was “The Pirates! Band of Misfits,” which lost to “Brave” in 2012.