Ambivalence, Thy Name Is Zimmer: 6/19/2012
So this is…good…news?
Hans Zimmer has officially been chosen to score the new Superman film from Zach Synder. Which is good news because he is a great composer. Remember his iconic score from………you know the one that went like………..um……you know its the one that started out big then when small like……uh………..you know the one that……………well….you remember the horn sound effect off “Inception” right?……..awesome.
This is the sad reality kids. Hans Zimmer has written scores for over a 100 films, almost none of them memorable or noteworthy in any way. Think for a second and see if you can remember any iconic Zimmer themes. Got anything? Well let me help you a bit: “Crimson Tide”, “The Last Samurai”, “Nine Months”, “Gladiator”, “The Dilemma”, “Broken Arrow”, “Shark Tale”, “The Weatherman”, “The Da Vinci Code”, and “The Holiday”. Anything ring a bell? Of course not, because (regardless of the films merits) there is nothing in Zimmer’s work worth remembering. No defining attributes, embellishments, or trademark themes to hang his hat on. In fact the more I read of his “accomplishments” and all the film’s he’s produced soundtracks for, the more it seems he is just a throwaway guy, the guy you bring in not because he does any memorable or outstanding work, but because he is just “good” enough to get by. He’ll make a score that only rises to the level of “serviceable”; not harming the film but not good enough to improve it in the slightest. I don’t see why anyone, irregardless of the films Zimmer has worked on, would want to hire him after hearing that he scored Madagascar 2, not to mention “Spanglish”.
Amazingly enough, the overwhelming mediocrity of Mr. Zimmer’s work seems to have escaped the majority of the film blog-o-sphere’s notice. They are actually…….(sighs)….excited about this news:
Besides some initial reservations that Zimmer, working under Dark Knight director and Superman producer Christopher “realism” Nolan, will produce a score too dark to fit Superman’s specific timbre, reaction to this news is almost overwhelmingly positive.
Angie Han over at slashfilm.com writes that:
“if anyone stands a chance of measuring up to the bar set by Williams, it’s Zimmer.
Ben Person at firstshowing.net says he is confident Zimmer will:
“produce some amazing work for Man of Steel. Though his success has generated a lot of copycat composers in the past few years, Zimmer is still at the top of his game.”
Are we listening to the same composer? Why are we expecting great things from the guy who just got done scoring “Sherlock Holmes 2: A Game of Shadows” and “Madagascar 3: Europes Most Wanted”? Don’t they see he is a hack? Have our expectations really dropped that low?
I’m not saying that a change couldn’t be a good thing. John Williams wrote a score for Superman that is the musical embodiment of everything that character is. As Richard Donner (director of the original Superman) stated “if you listen to the [John Williams’]music, it literally says Superman”. Williams score carries such a weight that it can be almost impossible to craft a film, and create a world for any character (let alone a more modern Superman) to live up to it. I understand that a different director, in different times, can bring a different aesthetic to the material. Synder should at least have the opportunity to craft his own version of Superman from the ground up as it suits his personality and individual spirit. My only complaint is that, in seeking to explore (originally) his specific vision of Superman, he’s hired (meaning Nolan hired for him) one of the most unoriginal composers of the 20th century.
Want to hear a preview of the bland Superman theme we could get from Zimmer. Have a listen to his Dark Knight score.
Now of course you automatically think of the film “The Dark Knight” because its most obvious association(from the description), and a timely point of reference (being as the movie is only 3 years old). However, I can honestly say that if I didn’t already know from description that this was Zimmer’s Batman theme, I would think it sounded only slightly more above average than what you would hear on an episode of “CSI”or “The Closer”.
Now compare that with Elfman’s Theme from Burton’s Batman:
As well as Elliot Goldenthal’s re-imagined theme for the Schumacher sequels:
Two very distinct, striking, imaginative and haunting scores. Even if I had no knowledge that these two pieces of music had been written for a “Batman” movie and I was just hearing a random score, I would never for one second, confuse the complexity and genius of their work with the mediocre musicianship of Zimmer’s post modern prime-time TV aesthetic. Like Zimmer, you may claim that Goldenthal was a similarly D.O.A composer before he got the Batman gig, but if you were to compare their credits side by side you’ll find that Goldenthal, even in his mediocrity, produced work infinitely more interesting that Zimmer ever did even at the top of his game..
If anything this signals a bad sign for Synder’s Superman. Nolan as producer seems to already have his hooks buried deep in the project, apparently trying to bring it down to the level of unimaginative realism that he brought to his Batman franchise. How else are we to interpret the hiring of average Zimmer with his accompanying flaccid style. If Synder would have stuck with frequent collaborator Tyler Bates maybe we could have got something at the very least more interesting than standard fare. Not that Bates is in anyway a great composer, but his scores for “Dawn of the dead”, “300” and “Sucker Punch” at least show evidence of someone who is refusing to do anything ordinary or run of the mill (even if Bates mostly just remixes pop classics into frenzied rock apocalyptic anthems, as he is known to do, he will at least, if only by association, have a higher degree of imaginative output with his few films, than Zimmer ever did with his hundred). Instead we are stuck with the slightly better than prime-time player Zimmer. Alas, it seems the Dark shroud of Nolan is beginning to cloud all.
Betcha a hundred bucks, that even if Zimmer hits it out the park, his Superman score wont even match up to this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u1ZVRm1KcZY