Comic Book Film Scores: Hits and Near Misses
By Philip Schweier
June 28, 2012 - 14:43
Needless to say, John Williams is a long-time favorite, though I’m not a passionate fan of his. Usually, the movie itself has to appeal to me before I start looking for the soundtrack recording. So I don’t have such recordings as Hook (1991) or Jurassic Park (1993).
My only complaint concerning both Horner’s work and that of Williams is that they often borrow from prior work. Not from one film to be used in its sequel, but from completely separate movies. Often it’s subtle, and requires almost a side-by-side comparison. Such is the case with Williams’ score for Tintin, which is very reminiscent of his work on the Indiana Jones movies. However, given the similarity between the films themselves, this hardly surprising.
I also got my hands on an expanded version of Shirley Walker’s soundtrack for Batman: Mask of the Phantasm. I had a more condensed version, and hoped the expanded release might offer something new. It does but not much. Nevertheless, it’s great work and well worth picking up.
In fact, the second CD closes with a track entitled Music of the Bat 101, in which she explains and demonstrates the versatility of her basic Batman theme, and how it can seamlessly be merged with Elfman’s theme from Batman (1989). As someone with very little music education, I found this track rather enlightening.
But I applaud the ambitious nature of the soundtrack. Most television shows these days are scored using a synthesized orchestra sound. However, the producer/writer of Human Target, Jonathan Steinberg, intended for the series musical soundtrack to play a major role in the series’ production. According to the liner notes, McCreary, who had scored such TV shows as Battlestar Galactica and Eureka, is a fan of big orchestral film soundtracks and was immediately sympatico in the Steinberg’s thinking.
Not every film can have multiple musical centerpieces such as Williams’ Indiana Jones or Elfman’s Batman scores. Sometimes the music is merely incidental, and production schedules have a way of hampering the creative opportunities for the composer. But for fans of film music, there are often enjoyable gems to be found in unlikely movies, such as Horner’s Rocketeer or Edward Shearmur’s Sky Captain (2004).
Praise and adulation? Scorn and ridicule? E-mail me at email@example.com
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