John Ottman “Superman Returns”

Album Reviews | Jun 30th, 2006

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Record Label: Warner Brothers/Rhino
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John Williams didn’t compose this score this time around but long time Bryan Singer collaborator, John Ottman did and has filled Mr. Williams’ shoes quite nicely! I don’t think you can make a Superman movie without using John Williams’ memorable theme. Well obviously Bryan Singer and John Ottman didn’t want to attempt that because I’m sure there would have been an uproar from comic book geeks everywhere. So they did the smart thing and used the main title and various bits & pieces from Williams’ music on the new score.

It would have been a nice to hear what John Ottman composed for a new main theme for Superman but anything he would have done would have been compared to John Williams. So in a sense, I think they did the smart thing. After all, this is suppose to be a continuation after the 2nd movie. The Superman Returns score opens up to the familiar intro to the Superman theme, and then triumphantly goes into the song. It sounds faster & fresher to me. It’s still one of the most recognizable themes in film music today I think, and I still get chills from hearing it. The score doesn’t take long to get into the action cues like “Rough Flight.” I can’t wait to hear this score in the movie theater, because I’ll probably like the score more…If that’s even possible. The one song that stands out from the new tracks is “Little Secrets/Power of the Sun.” It has choral singing in it, which Ottman has used in his other superhero scores (X2 and Fantastic Four). “Bank Job” has some elements I’ve heard from John Williams before, possibly from Superman but I was thinking more from Return of the Jedi. I also get a James Bond feeling from that track. But Ottman clearly seems to be having a blast composing this score and paying homage to music he grew up listening to. He even has some funny liner notes about annoying Mr. Sulu of Star Trek at some convention. Also, how he used to drive his parents crazy by playing the Superman score loud in his room. I wonder if he tied a bed sheet around his shoulders and flew around the room too?….Because I know I did!

While listening to this score, you can tell it’s a Superman score without hearing the main theme. You can just sense it I guess. I think fans might be disappointed in that the theme isn’t prominently used in the score, but once they see the movie I think the non-themed songs will start to stand out. The other songs besides the famous main theme are just as strong as that song. The motif from “Little Secrets” pops up a lot and I love it. Not sure if that’s an overall theme, or the theme for Lois and Clark? I guess I’ll find out when I see the movie. Also, this is the first time Lex Luthor gets a sinister theme, which is in the track “Not Like The Train Set.” Also noted in the liner notes, Ottman talks about how the Superman sequels just re-used the same Superman motif over and over again and there wasn’t any new themes created. I think this new score pays homage to John Williams but also creates something new for fans to enjoy. I think Ottman approached this score perfectly and hope to see him attached to more Superman movies if they are made.

As a bonus you can watch a few trailers of the movie on your computer. Also, there’s a cool behind the scenes featurette of John Ottman & co. conducting the main theme. I like when there’s a little more incentive to buying a CD when record labels include some bonus material. You can’t get that sort of stuff from downloading or getting a mix CD from a friend. Well, not on the same Cd anyway haha. But anyway, this is a great film score and glad to see john Ottman getting better movies to compose. I’ll be looking forward to more scores from him in the future.

Bottom Line: John Ottman has done a nice job filling John Williams’ shoes. The score is excellent and certainly met my expectations.
Notable Tracks: Main Titles, Little Secrets/Power of the Sun, Not Like The Train Set, Saving the World, Reprise/Fly Away
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