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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

CD REVIEW - Superman Returns

Superman Returns
Music by John Ottman
Rhino R2 77654 (U.S.)
15 Tracks 55:08 mins

Like his director and long-time collaborator Bryan Singer, composer John Ottman has approached his score for this new incarnation of the Man of Steel with great respect for Richard Donner's 1978 Christopher Reeve starrer. So much so, that he has incorporated fragments of themes from John Williams' classic score for that film throughout his music for the film. That is not to say that Ottman hasn't composed plenty of new material of his own. He has, and it is probably fair to say that the result is undoubtedly one of the finest of his career thus far.
The album, which is a comfortable length, but which still leaves off enough material to warrant a special extended edition one day, gets off to a perfect start with a full blown rendition of Williams' classic march, with its love theme bridge, which remains one of the most exciting entries into a film ever composed. The march will return throughout when the tough get going, the love theme less so, giving way somewhat to new magical and romantic material composed by Ottman, especially strong in "How Could You Leave Us?" "I Wanted You to Know" and the concluding "Reprise." Other Williams themes to make their presence felt are his "leaving home" music, which Ottman treats to a wonderful arrangement with choir in "Memories;" and the "Krypton" theme also makes an appearance at the start of the aforementioned "How Could You Leave Us?"
Ottman's action material is very strong throughout, and mostly hints at Williams' march, just letting it flow on occasion. When the great man wrote his score in 1978, the use of choir was a rarity. It has now become somewhat of a cliché, but Ottman's use of it here is perfection itself and adds power and awe to proceedings.
So to conclude, whatever the success or otherwise of the film (and I've read mixed reviews thus far), at least from listening to this disc, Ottman seems to have provided the best possible accompaniment we could have hoped for.
Incidentally, this is an enhanced CD, with trailers and a short behind the scenes look at the making of the score, but is sadly not accessible on my outdated PC. I hope you have better luck.


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