Composer Hans Zimmer (Gladiator, Thin Red Line, Batman Begins) successfully fused his signature brand of overwrought but highly effective melodrama to the backbone of director Ron Howard's 2006 movie adaptation of Dan Brown's controversial religious thriller The Da Vinci Code. That film's main theme, "Chevaliers de Sangreal," has been retooled for the 2009 sequel (the book was actually a prequel) Angels & Demons, preserving all of its elegiac atmosphere while bringing in more choral elements, as well as the nimble fingers of Grammy Award-winning violinist Joshua Bell to reflect the story's central character, Vatican City.
Another of John Barry's smouldering, moody thriller scores (Body Heat etc.), the kind of thing he does with a good deal of charm and edgy romanticism. Naturally for his legion of admirers this will be a most welcome treat, although to be entirely frank it is not one of his most distinctive soundtracks. While it hits all of the expected marks with the required poise and professionalism it also lacks freshness and at times sounds a little too much like recycled material (which with this composer admittedly always remains polished and likeable). Given these general musings and vague criticisms we are still left with a valuable addition to the wealth of John Barry work now available, something that is to be appreciated and I am certainly not complaining. (MWI)
Instead of paying homage to John Williams' celebrated score for Richard Donner's 1978 Superman film, as composer John Ottman did with Bryan Singer's 2006 reboot Superman Returns, Hans Zimmer has crafted an entirely new set of themes for Man of Steel, director Zack Snyder's 2013 re-reboot of the franchise. Closer in tone to the composer's work on Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy, the 15-track Man of Steel is grittier and darker than any of its predecessors, due in large part to Zimmer's proclivity for non-stop, thunderous percussion, though it retains enough goose bump-inducing moments to be called a proper Superman score, especially on the elegiac "Look to the Stars" and its soaring counterpart (pun intended) "What Are You Going to Do When You Are Not Saving the World?," both of which dutifully reflect the iconic superhero's propensity for both goodness and might. A Limited-Edition Deluxe version added bonus tracks.
Director Sacha Gervasi's 2012 Alfred Hitchcock biopic was less of a proper biography and more of a breakdown of the events leading up to the release of 1959's Psycho. Composer Danny Elfman's elegant score reflects that sense of minutia, offering up a scant 38 minutes of material, much of which clocks in at under a minute. Elfman's signature blend of dread, whimsy, and mischief serves the tone of the story well, and while it may not be as stocked with memorable themes as some of his better-known works, it dutifully conveys the pathos, unpredictability, and humor of its source material.