Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Man Of Steel score

Okay, unless you were living under the rock somewhere or news really doesn't as fast as you would like, then you'd know that apart from Iron Man 3, there is another Superhero film around the block that is also being looked at (if not, expected) to make a killing at the box office this year; and that is The Man of Steel; or better known to all as Superman.

Since the debatable performance of Superman Returns at the Box Office back in 2006 starring Brandon Routh in the title role and Kevin Spacey as the nefarious and brilliant (to date) Lex Luthor, most moviegoers have been wondering if the franchise is at the end of its rope and there was no way to resuscitate life back into it. 

But lucky for us DC and Kal-El fans around the world, hope was rekindled when the first teaser of the Man of Steel came around last year and ended with a sonic boom shot of Supes just taking off and zooming into the ethers. It was a scene that hasn't been done before and left us with our mouths open and both in awe and anticipation of the full trailer as well as the score behind it.

Finally this year, the third and full trailer came and like everyone else, I had to replay it over and over. I couldn't stop watching and finally felt that DC was onto something. They were finally doing things right and is on the right path of re-introducing this Iconic hero to a whole new generation. But this post is more for the music behind it. Let's see if we agree on certain points.

Now admittedly, I had my issues when I first heard it, all sorts of protestations started flaring up in my head. But soon I realized that this was not the main theme and merely a small section of the score that was predominantly used in the final trailer. To compare it with the main theme that John Williams did would be definitely unfair. And so it was in these repeated playback of the theme, did I finally learn to appreciate Zimmer’s score and the possible thought process that went behind it.

Williams' score, as we know is at once majestic,  sweeping, and pretty much what and how a score of this magnitude should be, when lending musical support to a character of this iconic status.

Zimmer's theme is surprisingly the total opposite of it and starts quietly with a series of lilting soft piano notes, punctuated in tender gaps, very much like a hero, unsure of his steps and taking at it slowly but surely. Slowly it builds, adding more elements into it like the strings and the resounding drums to give it its sense of epic urgency. It pretty much is vast in its own musical structure and gives us that introspective beginning when a hero begins to find out about his identity, with who he is and what is required of him. The entry of the drums signals the grappling of that same identity and the entry of conflict and dilemmas which everyone, hero or not, has to face and come to terms with until he comes out victorious; like the swell and crescendo at the end of the score. Inspiring and triumphant at the same time, the score does set out what seemingly is the new take of this version; and that is to define a character’s journey.

John Williams’ score was the best score for the Christopher Reeve years for its focus was more of the Hero wearing the suit and all the superhuman feats that he can accomplish as he lives here on Earth. Zimmer’s score asks us to go inward and look to Kal-El’s humanity first before his Superhuman lineage. To paraphrase an old saying, “It’s not by who you are, will you be defined, but by what you do.”

And how the movie will do at the box office next month, is indicative of how receptive the audience is to this new version and the brave new direction that director Scott Snyder has decided to take. Soar high Superman. It’s about time. And we’re glad that you are back.