News Archive... AKA The Old Blog

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Review: 'Superman Returns'

Superman Returns
Music Composed and Produced by John Ottman

So, Superman has returned. Neat. His first appearance in 1979 was all that was really needed. Richard Donner’s original still stands as the definitive film version of Superman… (as was his original version of The Omen the definitive version of THAT franchise.) New Superman Brandon Routh does a nice Christopher Reeve impersonation, and Kevin Spacey is a believable Lex Luthor, but it all still doesn’t add up to much. This is mostly the fault of Bryan Singer and his team creating a film that has little excitement and suspense despite some nice special effects, and try as it might (with a cute Super-son), can’t create any sort of emotional involvement for the viewer. As a kid, I was much more upset about Lois Lane “dying” in the original and was slightly startled at Superman’s grief and rage upon discovering her body. Now, as an adult, in the new version, I couldn’t have cared less what happened to her. “Eh… let her drown. Oh wait. Here comes Superman. Yay.”

But I digress. So upon Bryan Singer getting the Superman Returns gig (after about a dozen other directors), it was pretty apparent who was going to be scoring it. Kudos to Singer for being loyal to his editor/composer John Ottman and not hiring John Williams to write a new Superman score. Of course I would’ve loved to hear Williams’ take on his classic score nearly 30 years later, but loyalty in Hollywood is a rare thing and should be respected. And like Marco Beltrami and the remake of The Omen this year, John Ottman shouldn’t be taken to task for the insane tightrope act he had to perform with this score. Use the Williams themes, but don’t use them too much. Make it sound like Superman, but don’t sound like you’re just copying Williams. Write a new theme or two, update the sound of the original… the list goes on and on with conflicting demands.

The final score, unfortunately, is a mixed bag. Ottman takes quite liberally from John Williams’ original, often using complete passages of the score, or taking themes and changing them in new ways… which isn’t exactly a good thing. Harmonically or melodically changing themes that were perfect to begin with is like putting old wine in a new bottle… a really weird looking bottle. The main theme, fanfare, Kent family theme, Krypton theme, and “Can You Read My Mind” all make appearances, but often are changed ever-so-slightly. The titles, incidentally are exactly the same as the original… except with an oddly altered final chord.

Full review coming soon...