It seems that every minute a reboot is being turned out. Some are good, some not so much. Zack Snyder's Man of Steel falls somewhere in between. As a re imagining of Superman it does its job more than effectively. Unfortunately there are numerous kinks that may bother hardcore fans or film-goers in general. One of the more interesting aspects of 'Man of Steel' is that this is the first Superman film without John Williams' iconic melody. Taking over the reigns is none other than Hans Zimmer. Hans is no stranger to anyone who has seen an action film in their lifetime or to film score fans who tend to be divided on their opinion of him. Man of Steel, unfortunately, isn't going to break any new ground for the people who want to see more from Zimmer.
There already has been a heavy backlash from film score critics who complain that Zimmer is a talentless hack who likes to employ simple themes and beefy electronics to any scenario thrown at him. In some regards, however, they aren't too far off base. Man of Steel is a healthy reminder that Zimmer is a musical testosterone junkie who likes his music HARDCORE. This will either upset people or give some erections, depending on taste. The one thing most of those critics are overlooking is that Man of Steel actually isn't all that bad. Purists will, of course, complain of the lack of John Williams without trying to embrace something new. Man of Steel is, in fact, fairly original. On the outset there are two primary themes introduced. The first is a two note idea passed around throughout the score which gradually starts to take shape. By 'What Are You Going To Do When You Are Not Saving The World?' the theme transforms fully into the new Superman theme and by god, it's a doozy. By far the best track on the album. The two note idea also does change chords to represent heroics on a grand scale. Second is Zimmer's 'DNA' theme. It's a creepy, almost alien representation of Kal-El and it too is tossed around alot before exploding outwards in 'Launch'. There is also a melancholy piano motif for Clark Kent and a (fairly bland) string ostinato representing General Zod.
One of the big things marketed for the score to Man of Steel was the infamous 'Drum Group' consisting of about fifteen members that Zimmer employed for the action music. Sadly, while technically impressive, all it adds is a beefier sound scape from which to play off of. Another big fault comes with the action material. Unless you are one of Zimmer's closer supporters you may find yourself incredibly bored with the options here. The biggest exceptions here, however, come with 'If You Love These People' and the incredible 'Flight', both of which will blow anyone away. Aside from that though, most of the action borders on the incredibly generic.
While the action may not make a big impact there is some beauty to be found here. First off is the piano motif mentioned earlier. It usually appears in a bittersweet context but occasionally shifts over to a lighter chord. In 'Goodbye My Son' there is a powerful choral and electronic element that gradually builds to tragedy. Cues like 'Look To The Stars', 'Krypton's Last' and 'I Have So Many Questions' also add some beauty to the mix. The aforementioned 'If You Love These People' also is a genuine throwback to classic Zimmer in several ways.
Surprisingly, there was also an additional release that included more music. First is a 28-minute long demo track which beautifully summarizes most of the primary ideas in the film. The following tracks are mostly expanded variations of other themes in the score, primarily Zod's theme(s). Overall Man of Steel can be a mixed bag, depending on how you look at it. Most will find merit in Zimmer's originality here. To be honest, it's one of the better things he has put out in quite a while. Unfortunately there are still faults that will rile up Zimmer haters. If you enjoy generic action scores that actually contain powerful themes and ideas, go for it. Otherwise avoid at all costs. Still, Man of Steel is a mostly impressive entry in Zimmer's career. It's far from his best but definitely ranks up there with some of his better action efforts.
Read other recent reviews by Jason FLZ: Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
, The Thing
, The Hunger Games