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Wallace & Gromit’s father, stop motion superstar Nick Park, is back in the director’s chair. With Early Man, the four times Oscar winner directs his first film (he was writer-producer on numerous animation projects at Home studio:  Aardman) since 2008’s A matter of Loaf and Death.

Early Man, featuring the voices of Eddie Redmayne, Tom Hiddleston, Timothy Spall and Maisie Williams, is set at the dawn of man. Or shall we say the dawn of some men… Dug, a caveman, and his sidekick, Hognob, are confronted to modern enemies from a tribe of the Bronze Age. They set on sorting out a dispute over land expropriation by scheduling a soccer game who’s winner takes all.

Is Park rusty? Because the story is not really captivating, the dialogues are recycled, the ensemble work seems family oriented simply to recover some of the budget on the US market. Red card, right here. The game (Euro football) is not fully acknowledge yet by uncle Sam. Beckham’s working on it from Florida, but it’ll take more time. It’ll probably flop.

Early Man is a deception. The director has certainly seen better days. We see the gags coming from miles away. Rhythm and punctuation are lacking, the characterization is not very original. Like his characters, who fight evolution, unfortunately, Nick Park’s hiatus kept him in the Stone Age.

The film is set for release this Friday February 16 across America and Canada.