A movie about Turkeys, well I know there have been a few films which have been prize turkeys, but FREE BIRDS, is actually an animated feature that has Turkeys with feathers as its central subject matter. Its a funny old holiday is thanksgiving, funny as in maybe a little quirky to us Brits who really at times just don’t get it or anything American, but obviously it’s a time of great celebration in the States so hey lets join in. Of course in the UK we don’t have anything like it, do we, well there is Christmas, Easter, oh yes Sunday roast etc etc etc, and lets not forget Mournday Thursday where the Monarch gives out money and in case you did not know Postman get a day paid holiday ????? Ok FREE BIRDS which is produced by same team that brought us the hilarious and endearing SHREK, focuses upon the main Turkey character Reggie, who has been pardoned and saved by the President of the United States and consequently will not be gracing a dinner table near you this thanksgiving, unless of course Turkey rustlers get involved, but that is another story. After being pardoned Reggie finds himself going back in time and ending up in the Americas of 200 years ago, now being a particularly bright Turkey Reggie sees an opportunity to save his fellow Turkey kind in future years from being unwilling dinner guests and decides that if possible he will change destiny and in some way attempt to remove his Turkey brethrens from the menu. So it’s a little complicated and far fetched, but sounds as if it’s a good bit of fun. The musical score is courtesy of Dominic Lewis, the composer was born in the United Kingdom and after gaining his musical education at The Royal College of Music in London, relocated to the United States and began to work with composers such as John Powell, Hans Zimmer and Henry Jackman, mainly writing additional music cues for productions such as RIO, KUNG FU PANDA 2 etc etc. FREE BIRDS marks the composers first main score as a composer flying solo as it were. His additional music writing duties obviously providing him with experience and a seasoned maturity in his composing skills as the score is a delight to listen to; it is for the most part quite grand sounding with choral and symphonic elements being upper hand within the proceedings. The style and sound achieved has obvious influences from other composers that he has collaborate with but there is also present a glimpse of originality and a undeniable individuality shines through on occasion.
If I am honest I also detected a leaning towards the style of James Horner when his style was fresh and he was scoring movies such as KRULL, WILLOW, WRATH OF KHAN and AN AMERICAN TAIL, this is more prominent when Lewis combines powerful choir and soaring strings with urgent flourishes of brass and fast and furious trumpet punctuations as in the short lived but imposing cue EGGS-ISETENTIAL CRISIS (track number 11) and the emotive and touching THE RIGHT STUFFING (track number 22). Also maybe little hints of John Debney come to the surface at times again manifesting themselves more robustly within the cues that involve choral content and swelling string crescendos that just exude emotion and are overwhelming with emotive content. Taking into account that this is an animated movie and at times maybe the music can be a little obvious, displaying a little clumsiness, laced with comedic and slightly over the top nuances, it still has the presence and strength to remain highly entertaining, the score also contains a number of moments and fleeting musical passages that purvey an atmosphere that is truly mesmerizing which are not only stunning but contain a sense of heart warming melancholy as in SCHOOL OF FLOCK and LAID TO REST where choir and strings combine to create a special rich and haunting atmosphere. FREE BIRDS is I suppose a busy score a score that never takes a breath or sits on the sidelines and is filled to overflowing with a varied and at times unbelievable array of instrumentation, that includes EL SOLO PAVO which is a brief but upbeat Mexican Mariachi making an appearance acting as an introduction and eventual background to a Spaghetti western sounding electric guitar solo, that lends itself well to the upbeat and foot tapping background. FREE BIRDS is indeed an entertaining work and one that will continue to be of interest for a long while. The central thematic properties or core theme from the work do return in various arrangements and musical incarnations throughout the score but because the composer re-invents the theme on every outing it continues to be a surprising and fresh sounding piece that is vibrant and rewarding each time. The theme can be emotive or romantically laced or even turns up at times as a more urgent and relentless sounding composition as in IRATUS AVES (track number 27), which is a combination of both dramatic and also triumphant sounding flourishes, containing turbulent undulating strings and rising brass and shimmering percussive elements. Overall this is an extremely good score and one that will stand composer Dominic Lewis in good stead amongst his peers and will ensure that this music-smith will be in gainful employment for many years to come.