Sad Hill Media

Film & Lesser Arts with Will Ross, Devan Scott, & Daniel Jeffery.

by Will Ross
This review focuses exclusively on the score in the context of its soundtrack album’s deluxe edition. Few could set the lynchpin of a discussion on Hans Zimmer’s scoring methodology better than he did. While discussing the orchestra for the Man of Steel Score, he noted that “You can hear the energy and, in a way, the competition between all the players, just to give it their best.” Zimmer thus lets on a quality that is frequently the fatal flaw in his scores (and the films over which they blare): they are in constant competition with themselves. I can appreciate bombast in orchestral music, but Zimmer is completely unaware of the parodic lengths he has taken his arrangements. Zimmer’s irritating tendency to assign too many instruments to the film’s scarce melodies forces every piece to fight over each other, and if any separation or detail in the performances existed, the absurdly bass-juiced production flattens it. Zimmer may well have phoned in his part of an interview from another dimension when he said “Let's not make this Superman bombastic”; I’ve never heard another tentpole score so desperate to impress with a palette of exclusive force. Straining especially hard to that end are the drums, which drop with all the force of bombs, and with their musicality as well. Zimmer assigns them beats that, like the rest of the score, blast out everything they have to offer straight away (a scarce offering) and then never develop or build in any meaningful way. At their most obvious, drums can connote power, but for Zimmer they have only ever connoted their own presence, be it here, in the Batman films, or in any of his other blockbuster scores. There are quieter moments with a more tender and mournful obective, and without volume to hide behind, the Man of Steel score’s melodic failings come into even greater relief. Neither the piano, nor the Stradivarius soloing, nor the formulaic chord changes of the string section come off with any sincere emotionality, largely thanks to the overall composition’s extreme melodic poverty. Neither the lurching two notes of the main theme nor the aimless piano of the Clark Kent theme show any interest in becoming a developing, emotionally alive piece of music. They simply satisfy Zimmer’s fetish for sludge-as-entertainment and lumber through the 90 minutes needed for a tentpole score spread across two Deluxe discs. One could speculate on the fittingness of Zimmer as a creative collaborator on the film — but I made an italicized promise up there, and I intend to keep it.


Clinton said...

He said he was "paranoid":

and that he "procrastinated":

and that he was "daunted":

It showed.

¬Will Ross said...

There's a lot of jaw-dropping quotes about the score, like his claim that the score celebrates rural farmers.

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