Superman Returns/Ottman & Williams

June 17, 2006


The original Superman March theme has always remained something special in the annuals of the silver screen. Put it in the category of Tara's Theme from Gone With The Wind, another classic theme. Neither achieved an Oscar yet both are performed in movie music compilation concerts the world over. Both are instantly recognizable by the average person on the street. While the 1978 Oscar winner Midnight Express has been long forgotten by most, the Superman theme will live forever! John Ottman has taken the March, Love, and Kent Family themes and correctly built and blended them into his original score, creating one memorable listening experience. This is one you will want to listen to over and over and over and over again and again. In one word, WOW.

Directed by the veteran Bryan "X-Men" Singer Superman Returns stars newcomer Brandon Routh as Superman who looks and speaks like Christopher Reeve, Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane, and Kevin Spacey as a nasty Lex Luthor. The plot has thickened as Superman upon his return is now faced with the fact that Lois has stopped waiting for him or has she? The world now seems to be getting along just fine without him or is it? What evil is Luthor up to? All of these questions will be answered and more in the film.

Imagine yourself sitting in a darkened quiet theater waiting in anticipation for the film to start and you hear a brief chord from the lower register of the strings, a pause and then the chord twice again, followed again by a very brief pause and then the buildup to the wonderful march played with perfection from a 97 piece orchestra. It fills the theater entirely with its surround sound sending a chill up your spine and raising the hair on the back of your head. The orchestra, having completed its work with the march, smoothly slides into the love theme and you just know you can fly! Movie music doesn't get better than this. This is how effective this kind of music is in the main title and although the film doesn't really start this way at all one can dream. It is unfortunate that this style of music with its powerful and memorable themes is clearly the exception to the rule and the so called "landscape" type of score prevails. Perhaps the success of this film will turn enough heads for the entire process to be looked at again.

The rest of the score, while mostly John Ottman original material, does reference some of the previously written thematic material. A good example of this is in the "Memories" track. It replays the Kent Family Theme from Smallville first on the oboe in a peaceful serene setting reminiscent of Delius, hints at the Superman fanfare, then gives a fuller rendition of the Kent Theme. There is a slight hint of the march on the brass and the love theme from the flute and oboe. It ends with a magical style of underscore complete with a chorus. There was one short chord which reminded me of The Day The Earth Stood Still, but just for a brief second. Good track! "Rough Flight" is an excellent action track complete with the Psycho style string slashing dissonant sound made famous by Herrmann, used way too much in films these days but still effective. Great brass and percussion makes this an excellent cue and a good example of what a quality action cue can be like instead of the relentess pounding percussion we are familiar with. However if you listen closely you can hear a small part of "Samuel's Death" from the Legends of the Fall score written by James Horner. Apparently this particular track was used as a temp track during the filming and it just carried over a little bit into the score. Some of the other tracks of interest are "How Could You Leave Me", a 5 plus minute track that is quiet and thought provoking, interwoven with the Superman love theme. It features some nice piano, strings and choir. The final track "Reprise/Fly Away" features some nice heart felt music that is again blended with the love theme as well as the march.

The recording process today just keeps getting better and better. The original 1978 recording was good. This is outstanding! Much care went into getting the recording just so as they took 12 days to do it. The enhanced CD contains extra material including the trailers and a behind the scenes video on the scoring process. To me this is an extra topping to the music. My computer was not able to access the music part of the CD. The video portions were quite accessible and the music portion worked fine in three different cd players. Not sure if this will be an issue for anyone or not. Just reporting the facts!

The new material that Ottman wrote for the score is interesting enough but still in that vast area of "landscape" music. Frankly, the new themes or motifs that were composed are nothing that grab your attention. Put them in the category of being good but not great. The original material is unforgettable to this reviewer and the way that it was incorporated into the new material was extremely well done and based on that it is recommended.

Score orchestrated by John Ottman and Damon Intrabartolo

Orchestra conducted by Damon Intrabartolo

Track Listing:

1. Main Titles (3:48)

2. Memories (3:05)

3. Rough Flight (5:12)

4. Little Secrets/Power of the Sun (2:37)

5. Bank Job (2:19)

6. How Could You Leave Us? (5:45)

7. Tell Me Everything (3:11)

8. You'e Not One of Them (2:24)

9. Not Like The Train Set (5:11)

10. So Long Superman (5:29)

11. The People You Care For (3:25)

12. I Wanted You To Know (2:54)

13. Saving The World (3:09)

14. In The Hands Of Mortal (2:09)

15. Reprise/Fly Away (4:15)

Total Time is 55:08 not including the video material


3 Responses to “Superman Returns/Ottman & Williams”

  1. Martijn Says:

    Hmmm…looks like it’s best enjoyed both as a cinematic and CD-listening experience, with possibly a viewing preferably preceding obtaining the CD. I’ll hold off on listening to the soundtrack until I’ve had a chance to see the film.

  2. sjytuyioiu Says:

    Here are some links that I believe will be interested

  3. Walker Says:

    Yo anyone see superman returns? I loved that movie and i cant wait to pick up the dvd and game for xbox 360….i heard theres a code in the dvd that lets you play as bizzaro in the game, that should be pretty tight. Im lookin forward to gettin it at the end of the month.

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