on June 14, 2013
Got back from seeing the film this morning and have been listening to the album for a few days. I thought the music itself was very good, and thought it was great after seeing the movie and realizing how well it fit with each and every scene. It really gave all the action and emotion an extra kick in the pants, and Zimmer's propulsive score perfectly fits the character when he's in his element.
My main gripe, however, is the album arrangement. It's bizarre, and a little irritating, that the main highlights (DNA, Terraforming, Krypton's Last, If you Love These People) arrive so early on the album. When I first listened, I was waiting for some spectacular finale that, eleven or so tracks later, never came. Thats because I had already listened to it on track seven, in "if you love these people". It is also rather silly that they put "flying" and "what will you do when you are not saving the world" right beside each other in play order. They are very nearly identical save for a bit brighter feel in the latter song.
So, great music and a wonderful revisiting of the character, but do yourself a favor and create your own playlist. You'll enjoy it better that way.
I saw the movie again yesterday, so I put up a list. I don't think I can make an exact movie-order playlist since I don't have the film in front of me, but I'll do my best.
1. Look to the Stars
3. Goodbye My Son
5. I Will Find Him
6. Krypton's Last
7. Oil Rig
8. Are You Listening Clark?
9. Sent Here For a Reason
10. I Have So Many Questions
14. You Led Us Here
15. General Zod
16. You Die or I Do
17. This is Madness!
21. If You Love These People
22. This is Clark Kent
23. What Are You Going To Do When You Are Not Saving the World?
Now, It was difficult for me to place "This is Madness" and "You Dir or I do", mainly because when Jor-el says the former quote, the music doesn't match up, and neither does it when Zod says "You Die or I Do." "This is Madness" sounds like the scene where the U.S. army converges on Smallville, and "You Die or I Do" sounds a lot like when Superman is fighting Faora. "You Die or I Do" and "Arcade" seem mostly interchangeable, though. Arcade is just longer, so I put Arcade later on the list.
If anyone else thinks they have a more accurate list, put it in the comments section for me! :)
on June 11, 2013
Updated review for the DTS:X at the end. Thanks for the comments and votes everyone; I appreciate the time you all take to read the review (I know it's a bit long).
Review for the Regular Soundtrack:
Zimmer's "Man of Steel" soundtrack holds a variety of themes and moods in the score. The most obvious theme is the one used for the action scenes. Zimmer has many tracks on the album devoted to the action type music and most songs have at least a small section of action in them. Songs like "Oil Rig" and "I Will Find Him" are almost entirely action cues. The action music focuses on the use of drums. The drums used in the tracks are powerful and sometimes a little overwhelming with Zimmer's fearless and bold songs that could easily raise the tension in any scene just with their sound. Fortunately, each action cue is not a rehash of the theme and each song has it's own unique sound. Secondly, there are several somber or elegant pieces that evoke strong emotions. "Goodbye My Son" is a particularly powerful piece that uses an escalating string and vocal movement reaching toward a climax with a solo violin and a single female humming a tune (think "Pan's Labyrinth" with more in the background). The song is very powerful and really sets a great tone for the loss and hope for the scene. Also, "Krypton's Last" is another song with an emotional pull. The song opens with many instruments playing a sad tune but it quickly moves into a solo violin as it plays a somber theme for Krypton's last moments. It concludes with an action section that is heavy on drums and strings. The third obvious sound is the majestic theme for Superman. The most obvious of these is, "What Are You Going to Do When You Are Not Saving the World" (That's a mouthful). This song is an extended version of the song heard from the third trailer. The song opens with the piano for the first minute before jumping into a crescendo of strings and piano that builds into the majestic theme for Superman.
On the whole, this soundtrack offers music of all kinds. This soundtrack is much heavier of action music than most of Zimmer's scores but it is all very well done. There were very few tracks that ever felt like fillers. Every track obviously has a purpose in the film. I really enjoyed it and found it to be an excellent score; definitely the best so far this year. The Sketchbook song is interesting as well because there are several sounds that you get to hear without all of the added instruments because of it being an early version. The song is long but it feels like a string of songs, which are all worth listening to.
Look to the Stars
Goodbye My Son
This Is Clark Kent
What Are You Going to Do When You Are Not Saving the World?
Regular Soundtrack: 4.8
Deluxe Soundtrack: (Review of just the songs that are exclusive to the Deluxe Version)
The Deluxe Soundtrack is good but not as good as the standard one. There are several tracks that are good but there are only one or two that are great in my opinion. "General Zod and "Arcade" are both great songs, "General Zod" is very action heavy and "Arcade" is a good action cue that has a darker feel to it, as if there is a tougher, darker battle going on then normal. The strings are tense and the brass blares notes throughout, continuing to add onto itself, making what is tense get tenser. It then moves into heavy drums and brass blast before moving back into the tense strings; it's a bit heavy handed, but still a very well written piece. Also, "Are You Listening, Clark?" is a good song and a little quieter then the other songs. The song opens with ominous sounds that sound like people squealing, wailing, and talking. It then moves into the soft piano theme for Clark Kent. The voices are very creepy and mysterious but the piano gives a redemptive, uplifting ending that wipes the "scary" sounds away. The exclusive songs are mainly darker and mysterious but there are a few songs that are quite good, even though they are not exceptional.
I really liked the packaging for this soundtrack. The steel case looks really cool and the raised metal symbol is an excellent addition. There is a sheet that is stuck to the back with some sticky things that can be peeled off with ease without hurting the soundtrack or the paper. I have not yet tried the DTS download but I look forward to trying it. I will update the review when I have had some time to listen to it.
Overall, the deluxe edition has some good additions to the score but the first disc is still the best. However, that is not a reason not to get the deluxe which definitely has some tracks worth buying. The sound is a little different on these tracks but the songs are still quite good from time to time.
You Led Us Here
This Is Madness! (Interesting Drum Piece)
Deluxe Tracks: 4.45
Overall Deluxe Soundtrack: 4.7
DTS:X App and Music:
I have had the Z+ app for over a week now and have been playing around with it on my ipod touch 4th generation. The app itself is a bit frustrating right now because I have had to re-download several of the tracks several times when I reopen the app. The songs can take a while to download, depending on the connection speed (2 to 3 minutes per song at a local restaurant and 30 seconds at the local college I attend). On a more positive note, there has already been an app update and they have been working on the problems so they are dedicated to fixing the problems with it.
Now, I listened to the music itself with two separate headphones. I used my apple headphones that came with my old iPod 4 and a cheap pair of in-ear headphones my wife uses that normally have better sound quality and loudness. The songs do sound very different with the headphones; some instruments sound off in only one ear and the bass is much stronger in both headphones, which made it feel like a much better set of headphones. The sound was good and I thought that it really added to the music to hear it this way. The app gives you a choice as to what is plugged into the headphone jack (in ear, on ear, over ear, and stereo) which probably make a difference in each kind but the app recommends headphones. The in-ear headphones my wife uses were a little bit better in relation to sound but part of that may be that they tend to drown out external noise because of how far in the ears they go. Both sets of headphones sounded very good and pronounced. The difference between that and my car stereo and phillips brand home stereo was substantial because it really felt more real with the sound coming from seemingly different places. I recommend the download as long as the app is further updated to fix bugs and you have a decent set of headphones. The apple headphones worked, but I got the impression that over ear and higher quality in ear headphones would sound better. The music in 11.1 headphone surround was definitely interesting, unique, and fun. For those on the fence between the regular and deluxe soundtrack, if you enjoy better sound from music, the deluxe is worth it just for DTS download. Also, the update offers a free bonus song if you sign up for the newsletter. One of the bugs in the app prevents me from finding out what the song is, but just downloading the app would allow for people to listen to "Ignition" and the bonus song for free without a code.
Z+ app: 4.1 stars (will adjust if further app updates are made)
DTS Music: 4.8 stars
Overall: 4.5 stars
"Man of Steel" looks to be very different from any previous Superman films, and so it requires a different style of music.
If anyone is right for the project, it's composer Hans Zimmer. Zimmer has been involved with some of my favorite movies in recent years - The Dark Knight, Inception, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Gladiator. With the Dark Knight Trilogy, he successfully created a new tone that was different from any previous Batman music. It appears he has done the same for the Man of Steel. Everybody loves John Williams' theme for the original Superman films - to try and replicate it would be a mistake. So Zimmer does the only sensible thing, and goes in a completely different direction with his score.
Every track on this album has something unique to offer; there is great variety, and that makes for a pleasant listening experience. There is plenty of the intense epic music that Zimmer is known for (those who have accused him of being too bombastic in the past will no doubt have the same complaint here). But there's also plenty of emotion too - some of my favorite cues are the softer ones.
As a bonus, you get a 28-minute track called "Hans' Original Sketchbook", which features some of Zimmer's key musical concepts, plus some early ideas and a bit of music unused in the film (although much of it sounds like pieces from other tracks on the album).
Also, for those wondering where the music used in the film's trailer can be found, it's the track titled "What Are You Going to Do When You Are Not Saving the World?" - Track #17 (or Track #1 of Disc 2 for the limited edition CD).
The superhero genre is full of great music, and the "Man of Steel" soundtrack is right up there with the best of them. I highly recommend this album!
 Goodbye My Son
 If You Love These People
 What Are You Going to Do When You Are Not Saving the World?
* The Deluxe Edition of the soundtrack, available in physical CD format or in MP3 format, contains an additional 6 tracks (approx. 30 minutes in length) not included on the regular release.
** Also included with purchase of the CD is an insert with a unique code to download the Man of Steel Soundtrack in the Z Plus App. This is the first soundtrack album to use the new DTS technology called Headphone:X - which simulates an 11.1 channel surround mix on a normal pair of headphones. The Z Plus app works with iOS devices (such as iPad, iPhone, etc) and the 11.1 mix can be emulated using any pair of stereo headphones.
*** With Amazon's AUTORIP service, if you order the CD then you automatically get the Amazon MP3 version added to your account for free (so you can listen to it immediately while you wait for the CD to arrive in the mail.)
on June 14, 2013
Though Hans Zimmer's "Man of Steel" soundtrack is disappointing to those (like myself) who bought the hype that this soundtrack was going to be something truly different and unique from Zimmer's recent blockbuster score style in the vein of "Inception" and "Dark Knight", there are still enough epic and thrilling moments, with enough hope piercing the brooding darkness occasionally, to warrant a purchase. Overall, the 12 piece drum orchestra is thrilling, though not as different as would have been expected (in fact, some of the drum beats are lifted directly from the masterful "King Arthur" soundtrack), the arrangements are still synth-powered orchestrations, and the ethereal soundscapes sometimes venture a bit too close to "Inception" territory.
However, when the Kryptonian choral elements come into full power with the driving drums and powerful brass, the results are truly epic enough in scale to make up for the mundane familiarity of the rest of the score. The middle section of the score is a work of brilliance, far overshadowing the mediocre opening and closing parts. A haunting, beautiful melody for Krypton is hummed by a female vocalist on "Goodbye My Son", merging beautifully with the choir, which follows into the magnificently urgent and heroic "If You Love These People", a driving tune of heroism in classic Zimmer style: driving percussion, frantic string ostinatos, noble brass, massive choral, and hints of guitar acting in the role of a classical string section (one Zimmer innovation on the record that shows up rarely but effectively). This leads into the tragic string lament of "Krypton's Last" which precedes the nine minute epic track "Terraforming" which places the motifs of Superman, Zod and Krypton in epic contention with each other for a powerful ride that builds to an almost religious crescendo.
Aside from this tour de force of a midsection, however, "Man of Steel" is rather standard Zimmer fare. One can pass on the deluxe edition and not worry about missing much music worth having (unless one really wants the steel case for the CD, which I must say is a brilliant idea. Kudos to the steelcase design. Clever and hardy, I hope more soundtracks will pick up on this idea). The highlights are the aforementioned midsection, and the soundtrack works brilliantly within the film.
EDIT: On several more listenings, the theme for General Zod has really begun to stand out to me. Really menacing string ostinato with some great brass that portrays an angered nobility with a villainous twist. It shows up on part of "Terraforming" towards the end, gets its most magnificent and bombastic performance on "I Will Find Him", and is explored and featured most prominently on the aptly named "General Zod" and "Arcade" on the Deluxe Edition. So perhaps give the Zod theme a listen before determining whether you want the Deluxe or not. If you like the Zod theme as much as I do, might be worth a purchase.
on July 8, 2013
It's odd that I'm jumping right into the controversy surrounding Remote Control Productions on my first review but I figure it's worth addressing right off the bat. Yes, I am a Hans Zimmer fan. Say what you will about how he regards the "orchestra", his pension for creating "new instruments", or his team of "ghostwriting" apprentices but you cannot deny that Hans Zimmer is a reigning force in the film music industry. I do, however, recognize why Zimmer's recent transition towards sound design and clashing and banging does not suit everyone's fancy. If you hold on to the days of John Williams' full-bodied orchestras (there are, luckily, still numerous to be had) and cannot stomach the brute masculinity and chopping string ostinatos that largely define the music of the modern blockbuster, then Zimmer's recent score for Man of Steel is not for you.
That being said, if you are a Zimmer fan or if you like your themes big, bold and easily identifiable, Man of Steel will likely please. The soundscape that Hans Zimmer has created for Snyder and Goyer's (notice I didn't say Nolan's) Superman is akin to that of The Dark Knight trilogy. The higher octaves that Zimmer explored in cues such as "Like A Dog Chasing Cars" from The Dark Knight and many from The Dark Knight Rises are much more prominent here, but there is still plenty of brooding and churning in the lower registers to be had. "Look to the Stars" opens the film in an ethereal landscape with slurred electric guitar pronouncing the first musical identity for Superman soon joined by chorus for the Kryptonian's birth. Following this is "Oil Rig", one of the more brutal and less-listenable tracks of the score but representing the first you will hear of Zimmer's much touted "drum orchestra", a collection of famous drummers organized to jack up the intensity. To hear the drum orchestra in a slightly less brutal arrangement, look to "Tornado". "Sent Here for a Reason" introduces the Clark Kent theme on solo piano but the theme receives fuller treatment in "This Is Clark Kent" (a standout) and "Earth". The latter is the best representation of what Zimmer must have meant when he proclaimed in early interviews that he was going to be playing up the Americana in this score.
The theme for Zod and the battle of Krypton is a progression of synthetic strings that comes across as a little underwhelming at first but builds to such ridiculous proportions that it ultimately wins you over. I absolutely love the track "Arcade," the piece that plays during Jor-El's escape on Krypton. Simple yet massively threatening and a good example of the electronic distortions and synthetic effects (a descending ripple, a heavily distorted horn) that Zimmer used to represent Zod and his forces. "I Will Find Him" and "General Zod" also feature the same theme and distortions with the former cue giving the drums a little more "mmph".
Other themes of lesser prominence include the tender, lullaby-like identity for Jor-El and Lara's goodbyes to Kal-El in "Goodbye My Son", the Jor-El / Zod fight motif nearly straight out of Crysis 2 in "Launch", and the destruction of Krypton and Kal-El's landing cue in "Krypton's Last".
Every Zimmer score seems to have that one ridiculously long track and Man of Steel is no exception. If you get the Deluxe Edition, which I recommend if only for "Arcade", you will get a few of these including Zimmer's synth mock-up titled "Original Sketchbook." If not, though, there's always "Terraforming". A loud action cue worth it mainly for the first minute and a half but listenable for the rest, "Terraforming" features one of the Superman motifs at the start and a collection of variations on numerous themes throughout its near ten minute runtime. You'll hear a horn motif at 3:43 that seems pretty reminiscent of the mermaid theme from Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and a near copy of that theme on strings at 7:05 with Zimmer's typical all-male chorus. All in all though, "Terraforming" is an impressive and raucous cue with some satisfying material.
The latter part of "Flight" (2:50 onward) contains one of the most rewarding and developed themes for the Man of Steel. Also heard in variation in "If You Love these People" during the final fight with Zod, this theme is my favorite of the album. A grander and more fast-paced variation of the theme introduced in "Krypton's Last", the latter part of "Flight" and "If You Love these People" conveys simultaneously Superman's great power and his identity as a loner disconnected from his home world. It accurately conveys the awe of Kal-El's first flight and the final fight with Zod, but at the same time a touch of sorrow. Of the two big renditions of this theme, however, I have to prefer "Flight" over "If You Love these People", if only for the fact that "If You Love these People" employs the electric guitar in a way that will remind the careful listener a little too much of Drop Zone.
Now for the Superman theme. In the fashion of The Dark Knight, the identity for the hero is simple enough that one may only consider it a series of motifs linked together rather than a full-bodied theme, but Man of Steel offers a bit more intricacy than that prior score. Of course, this is not your John Williams' Superman fanfare. Heard in a bit of a bizarre, slurred electric guitar arrangement after Clark's theme in "Flight", the theme's most developed and triumphant rendition can be found in "What Are You Going to do When You Are Not Saving the World?" For most, this will be the standout cue of the album, in which the various Superman motifs come together to create, for the first time, the full theme. Critics of Zimmer will undoubtedly slam this theme for not living up to the Williams fanfare. To meet them in the middle, I will say it's very Zimmer. The synthetic strings do the bulk of the heavy lifting in this track and the percussion slams away in all its glory. But there is something for me about this new Superman and this new theme that makes me love it. Like the rest of this score and the film itself, Zimmer's Superman theme is far from perfect and certainly won't please everyone. Upon first listen, I was even a little disappointed. I had the same reaction to the film, but I kept coming back for more and both the film and score grew on me. Boy did they grow on me. It may be a guilty pleasure, but a pleasure nonetheless.
Go to [...] for more in-depth film score reviews! Happy listening!
on June 15, 2013
When I heard Hans Zimmer had been tapped to score "Man of Steel", I felt a thrill of excitement. Then it struck me: his style is so different from John Williams, whose Superman theme has reigned supreme for 35 years ... how would he use that theme and weave it in to his work? As a man who grew up on the Christopher Reeve/Richard Donner films featuring the Williams fanfare, I could not picture a Superman film without that music. Then I heard that Zimmer planned to come up with an entirely new score, and that he would not re-use the Williams theme. I was horrified. What would Superman be without the Williams theme?
Then I took a deep breath, and decided to proceed with an open mind.
The first tease of the new theme came with the release of the third trailer for the film, with a cut-down version of Track 17 on Disc 1 of the Special Edition Release, "What Are You Going To Do When You Are Not Saving The World?" I was breathless on the first listen. I must have worn a hole in my internet listening to that over and over again. Then, last Tuesday, the disc arrived and I eagerly tore it open to have my first straight-through listen.
The score is absolutely fantastic, and (having seen the movie now) I can say it fits the new film perfectly. It has both quiet, emotional passages (such as that solo on The Artot-Alard Stradivarius violin played by Ann Marie Calhoun, or the female solo vocals performed by Hilda Orvarsdottir) and thunderous percussion and electric guitar stretches performed by some of he most famous percussionists and drummers in the music industry. My favorite action track may be "What Are You Going To Do When You Are Not Saving The World?" (the full theme and fanfare from the third trailer) ... but two close contenders would be "Terraforming" and "I Will Find Him." At the other end of the spectrum, "Goodbye, My Son" is breathtakingly quiet and sad. Zimmer's full-spectrum of talent is well on display here.
I still love the Williams music for the 1978 film; but we live in a different era, and this is a film - and thus a score - for 2013. The decision to start fresh for this reboot was counter-intuitive; it's sure to be scoffed at by Williams purists ranting through their emotional uproar (as I almost did until I got a hold of myself)... Yet it turned out to be 100% correct. Incredibly (considering 35 years of emotional attachment to Williams' score) Zimmer pulled it off for me. In the scene where Clark is raising the bus (alluded to in the trailer, so not a spoiler), the appearance of the new theme in all its glory was as electrifying as the Williams theme always was in such moments.
Make sure to get the two-disc special edition set, as the extra bonus tracks on Disc 2 are not to be missed.
6 our of 5 stars, 12 out of 10. Congratulations on a job well done, Mr. Zimmer!
UPDATE: Track 2, "Oil Rig," contains an unusual "Uh-oh" sound. Today, Watertower Music released the story behind it: it turns out that Zack Snyder (the Director) carried his daughter, on his shoulders, onto the scoring-stage. She was watching, fascinated, and when the conductor (Nick Glennie-Smith) raised his arms over his head to give the downbeat, she exclaimed: "Uh-oh!" The microphones picked it up and they decided to keep it.
on January 24, 2014
"Man of Steel" is one of those movies that, for as poorly as it did coming out, is going to have a lasting impact for generations to come. It was so utterly convicted to itself and so lacking of self-consciousness that it was, in a sense, romantic. Almost perfect.
This motion score by Hanz Zimmer carries all the emotion, the joyous highs and sorrowful woes of the titular movie, and like its namesake, is nothing short of passionate, harrowing, sorrowful, romantic, and almost perfect...
on July 15, 2013
Hans Zimmer is hands down the greatest movie scorer alive today.His action film scores in particular are incredible. I have every one he has ever written for the big screen and I listen to them over and over. Man of Steel is no exception as it captures the very escense and excitement of the film itself. Highly recommended.
on June 13, 2013
Hans Zimmer has evolved throughout his career by embracing new styles and technologies. His work has become more electronic, more bombastic, and more powerful over the years. This is not a score for those who appriciate subtlety and nuance. This is an action score through and through and it truly delivers. Zimmer rarely misses a beat (literally) as he throws percussion and electronics into every track. Many of the other reviews have gone through substanital legwork to outline each track, but I wish to convey my emotional response. I listened to this score before the movie ever arrived in theaters and it stands strongly on its own. The Main Superman Theme does not attempt to replicate the brilliant meoldic compisition of the Williams score many years ago, but rather servs to viscerally illicit an emotional response. This is not your father's Superman. Darkness rises (pun intended) and the stakes could not be greater. The General Zod theme also conveys the epic menace of an existential threat to humanity. While the melodies are simple, even for a Zimmer score, he squeezes every ounce of emotion from them. Valid criticism of Zimmer prevents this score from obtaining 5 stars. Clearly, Zimmer has entered a comfort zone and has recycled techniques from his Dark Knight, Da Vinci Code, and Inception scores which may frustrate some listeners. Relentlessly, each track is filled with many layers, but the percussion and electronics often overpower the more subtle aspects of the soundtrack. Ultimately, for me, it comes to personal preference. Certainly I miss his scores for Gladiator and the Last Samurai, but I embrace this dark, action heavy score. I will certainly listen to this entire soundtrack many times more than I will watch the movie.
As for specifics, my favorite tracks are: "Look to the Stars," "Terraforming," "Hans Original Sketchbook," (This is 28 minutes long and simply plays with different variations of the soundtrack), "General Zod," and "Arcade." The packaging is by far the best CD case I've ever bought through retail. It is reinforced plastic with a metalic feel. Also, and this is important, the CD comes with an insert to download the entire album through an app called Z+ which is ULTRA HIGH QUALITY. It is much better than traditional MP3 quality and truly enhances the sound in my Bose headphones. Even when turned up all the way, there is no distortion. I highly reccomend this soundtack even though this is not Zimmer's best.
on January 28, 2014
Honestly, I'm more of a Batman kind of person, but this soundtrack is simply amazing. I bought both this soundtrack and The Dark Knight soundtrack and I completely love both for the reasons of many: Hans Zimmer. So glad I bought this!