Already pre-ordered and due out in the UK on Monday 17th June, Hans Zimmer’s score for Man Of Steel (2013) has already polarised fans. I’m a huge Hans Zimmer fan and a soundtrack enthusiast on the whole but to be honest, I know little about reviewing music, just enjoy listening to it and following the artists.
Going back about 18 months, when Zimmer was first announced as the composer for the new film, there was a palpable sense of fear as the idea of challenging John Williams’ iconic theme was almost sacrilegious. But it needed to be challenged as did most things about Superman, who had, had his day in the form of Christopher Reeves, who even if he was still alive today and had not suffered his accident, would still be too old to play the part which had died long before that day in 1995.
William’s score is more than iconic, it’s as much a part of modern music lore as Star Wars (1977) and Jaws (1975), also Williams themes! But Zimmer has become the leading name in soundtracks in the 21st century, though his style is somewhat different. Williams is about melodic themes whilst Zimmer is about atmosphere and weighty tones. He is also notorious for his synth work, which some feel is not as pure as artists such as Williams.
I have an original copy of John Williams’ Superman: The Movie LP from 1978, a beautiful gate-fold vinyl which I bought for a steal back in 2006, costing me just £5 on ebay! No such luck now, trust me. But after the first Superman, it was only his themes which carried on, as John Williams himself, left the project when Richard Donner was fired from Superman II (1980), and it was left to Ken Thorne to carry on, which he did so through two films, this and Superman III (1983) by using Williams’ themes and composing his own around them.
But by Superman IV: The Quest For Peace (1987), Williams’ friend and composer of another iconic theme, Star Trek in the 1960’s, Alexander Courage took over. But with Superman IV’s poor reputation, the music wasn’t stunning but I felt that worked quite well with the difficult material.
I’d like to make a brief detour in to TV for just a moment and mention Mark Snow’s score to Smallville, which ran from 2001 – 2011. Like the majority of The X Files (1992 – 2002) scores, it was rubbish. Slow, wining, monotonous and overly used with seemingly every spare moment subjected to his boring tones.
2006 saw the Man Of Steel’s return with Superman Returns, in which director Bryan Singer’s collaborator John Ottman re-orchestrated Williams’ music and did a great job. It also saw the return of John Williams himself to the franchise in a way, as his score was restored or compiled for The Richard Donner Cut of Superman II, which Williams probably would have composed for if Donner had stayed on.
Over the past month, You Tube have been amongst several media sites previewing a large proportion of Hans Zimmer’s score, which I have tried to avoid where possible. As I’ve said, I’ve pre ordered the score and even if I receive it before I see the film, I will not listen to it until after I have watched it. The music plays such an important part in building atmosphere that I don’t want to go in already knowing what this film will sound like.
There are two versions of this score, with a straight forward one hour version and a LTD Edition with an extra disc showcasing another 30 minutes of his “Sketchbook”. I presume unused cues etc… But I must admit, that the LTD edition vinyl has caught my attention but I feel that it’s a bit beyond my price range.
The Album is due out over the next week and Man Of Steel is out in theatres on Friday, 14th June.