Nick Park, the legendary animator is one of my childhood heroes. The creator of Wallace and Gromit, he's responsible for arguably the greatest series of animated films ever made. By using stop-motion animation combined with his distinctive visual style, his work is imbued with a hand-crafted charm that it is impossible for CGI blockbusters to ever compete with. And this is why I was very exciting last Friday to be invited to see some early footage from Aardman's next film, Early Man, which will be released on the 26th January next year.
This time, the adventure takes place in a cartoonish approximation of the stone age - and centres on main character Dug (Eddie Redmayne) and his sidekick Hognob (a pig), as his tribe take on Lord Nooth (Tom Hiddleston) - who rules a city that has already reached the Bronze Age.
The cast is rounded out by Goona, played by Maisie Williams - a bronze age citizen who ends up teaming up with Dug, and a litany of other British comedy figures as the other members of Dug's tribe.
Lord Nooth, who Hiddleston voices with a French accent.
From the various clips we were shown, it looks set to be every bit as delightful as Park's other work, with the same slapstick sensibilities. One clip featured the tribe trying to hunt down a rabbit for dinner, and another featured Lord Nooth receiving a back-rub from a pig. So, umm, don't expect it to be a completely realistic reflection of stone age life. But it does look like a lot of fun.
Amusingly during the panel discussion - which being an expert reporter, I completely failed to make notes on - amusingly the cast revealed that despite a football match being a key plot point (!), none of them were particularly interested in the game.
As part of the promotional event, and to perhaps illustrate just how painstaking making a film using stop-motion animation is, the PR company had the journalists attending all attend to make their own Hognob out of modelling clay. Here's my attempt:
Basically indistinguishable from the real thing.
Anyway, I'm now very excited to see Early Man when it is released - and perhaps you should be too.