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Early Man by Harry Gregson-Williams & Tom Howe (Review)

posted Mar 9, 2018, 1:38 PM by Kaya Savas

Aardman and Harry Gregson-Williams go a long way back, so it was great to see him back for an Aardman film along with co-composer Tom Howe. Harry co-scored Chicken Run with John Powell, and after that did Flushed Away and Arthur Christmas. We saw Theodore Shapiro tackle The Pirates! and Ilan Eshkeri score Shaun The Sheep Movie. For Early Man, Harry co-composed with the wonderfully talented Tom Howe. Tom has scored a lot of UK television, and recently has worked with Rupert Gregson-Williams on Wonder Woman and The Legend Of Tarzan. For Early Man we get a wonderfully Aardman-feeling score that definitely carries elements from both Harry and Tom.

Early Man is just a pleasantly fun score with a lot of heart behind it. The story follows a primitive Stone Age tribe who must defend their land from bronze-using invaders by competing in a football (soccer for us Americans) match. “Dug’s Theme” is the first track we hear, and it sets the groundwork for the heart and soul of the score since Dug is the heart and soul of the story. Strangely there is a bit of an Americana feeling to Dug’s theme, but it works very well to bring that warmth in. And it's only strange in observation given how very British this film.

The main body of the score has some of those quirks and personality traits that you’d come to expect from an Aardman film. Tribal percussion along with primitive chanting pop up here and there to add fun flavors. The use of a referee whistle is a particularly fun touch given that a football match is a key part of the plot.

While these quirky touches pop up here and there, this is mostly a traditionally lush orchestral score that carries the audience with a lot of emotion and character growth. The way the music builds up the football match and the quest that our protagonists must set out on to save their land is felt in every note. When we reach that inventible conclusion when the day is saved, we feel the score open up in such a great fashion that it may even shed a tear or two.

Early Man is as much fun as it is a beautiful score. Harry and Tom have managed to infuse the narrative with so much character and heart that it’s impossible to resist the effect the music will have on you. You’ll have so much fun and will be rooting for Dug and his friends to save the day from start to finish. All the tiny quirks and touches give the music a personality and make it unique to this movie. It was surprising to find the music has a heavy dose of Americana in it, Dug’s theme especially. Sometimes I pictured a soaring camera shot over the great wild west, but it works so well to bring that warmth and heart into the film. Early Man is such a near-perfect animation score from start to finish.