Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Past Spotlight-Man Of Steel Deluxe Edition Score Review

Title: Man Of Steel

Composer: Hans Zimmer

Length: 1 hour, 56 minutes

Track Count: 24 tracks

Year Of Release: 2013

Hello again! Since we're near the end of the year, I thought it the perfect time to start pulling out some of the scores that were released earlier this year that I couldn't review, and putting them into the spotlight. That means that it's time for one of my most anticipated reviews; the Man of Steel score review! Being a Zimmer fan; a massive one to say the least, I couldn't wait for this score! It's a modern Superman score, with the composer behind the rejuvenation of Batman working on it. That's something that in my book is worth getting excited over! And when this beauty was released, it did nothing but please me. It had me crying, tapping my foot and humming the same rhythms for days on end. Unlike the film it was representing, which I love nonetheless, it blew my expectations out of the water! It delivered in every sense of the word, which is something that isn't so common nowadays. So, finally, here is my review for one of the best scores I've heard in a long time, Man of Steel!

To begin with, I'd like to mention how I've never really enjoyed John William's Superman score. Call me whatever you like, but that won't change the fact that apart from the theme, one of the best pieces in score history, John Williams doesn't do much within that score that I find too interesting. It's not bad, certainly not, but it's not as good as the hype leads me to believe. So I didn't have this huge amount of dread come over me when it was announced that this would be a complete stand alone score. The reactions when people realized that the theme that John William's mastered would not be included here were quite extreme. Some questioned what the producers, what Christopher Nolan and Zack Snyder were thinking! I, on the other hand, relished the fact that one of my favourite composers, Zimmer, would be scoring this film. Zimmer has done some pretty awful scores, no doubting that, but he has done some of my favourite scores as well. The Dark Knight is one of the first scores I ever heard, and I was taken aback. Zimmer introduced me to what music could make me feel, what an incredible effect that it could have upon my body. So I was excited for this score!

Zimmer can do emotional music, and he has a good heap of it loaded here. Goodbye My Son takes my breath away whenever I listen to it, because of it's deep and powerful vocals and mystifying brass. It's so simplistic, yet filled with a tremendous amount of heart. The same can be said for the truly touching This Is Clark Kent. It's a perfect character driven piece, one which captures the central character perfectly. Despite his tremendous power, he can be soft, he can be gentle, and he can care for those around him. The piano within these pieces really brings me to tears. It's soft and full of wonder, which is what Zimmer loves using piano for, and I love it!

Percussion. One word, yet it carries a crap ton of power throughout this score! This is some of the best use of percussion I've ever had the pleasure of listening to. It's powerful, intense, fast and above all, incredibly aggressive. Oil Rig is a perfect example of this. It gives a feeling of jeopardy, something that a lot of composers don't see fit for percussion. One of the things that most intrigued me when I found the making of the score online, was how Zimmer recorded the percussion. It's one thing to simply put a microphone next to a bunch of drums and have a few percussionists hammer away. It's another to create a setup in which you feel engulfed in drums, in pure power. Zimmer set up the percussion in a clock like format. 12 percussionists hammering away around a microphone. Literally AROUND. Listen to the percussion showcases in surround sound, and you'll understand why Zimmer has done what he's done. The drums seem to surround you, and it's mesmerising, intense and awesome, all at once!

One of the the problems people have with this score is it's lack of a proper theme. There is certainly no one distinct theme, unlike the John William's score. Instead, you can pick and choose your favourite piece, or your theme, if you will. Many find Flight, our big uplifting piece, the obvious theme for the score. Others find This Is Clark Kent to be the theme, for it's focus on our main character. I certainly don't see a theme here, unlike others. I don't find it necessary, not in a score like this. Zimmer has created amazing sets, but nothing that really stands out as a representative, something that showcases the rest of the score. Sure, you can take Man Of Steel-Hans' Original Sketchbook as the showcase piece, the piece that really gives you the best of the best, but I don't find it to be a theme, certainly not. I love the fact that there is nothing designated, because that means I can interpret pieces in a way that suits me. It is confusing, I understand! But what I'm trying to get at, is that certain individual pieces will appeal to you more than others, and other people will have different opinions and find certain pieces more engaging and awesome than others, like yourself. It's down to individual interpretation, this score, and that is something that I adore.

My favourite sets within the score... I'd have to say, my favourite lies within If You Love These People, at around the 2 minute mark. The piece slows down, and the brass and percussion just belt out a small little riff which goes above and beyond. You'll know it when you hear it! The first big percussion set within Oil Rig is completely awesome! It's dramatic and it will have you tapping your foot along very quickly! Terraforming is filled with some really rocking, powerful riffs. About 3 and a half minutes in is when it starts getting interesting, so I recommend you go from there, if you want a highlight reel. If you're talking about the Deluxe Edition, I'd certainly set you up with Arcade. Whilst the strings and the rhythm they set are front stage, I'd recommend listening to the brass in the background. It's actually quite touching, whilst being loaded with some incredible volume and power.

Whilst on the topic of the Deluxe Edition, I'd certainly say pick it up! It may cost you a little extra, but it is worth it! I've fallen in love with Arcade and Earth, both inspiring pieces, filled with the best parts of the score as a whole. And if you loved the percussion within the score, then This Is Madness will delight you. It's not my cup of tea, and whilst the drums do make for some epic music whilst complimenting other instruments, they can't really hold it together for the 3:48 running time of the piece. This Is Madness has to be the only piece I couldn't give a perfect score to. General Zod represents the Kryptonian himself in perfect fashion, something that Zimmer is best at. It's intense, fast and all the while a little unsettling. It sounds a little twisted, in a wonderful way! You Led Us Here and Are You Listening, Clark? are both very original and intelligent pieces, to add the positives this Deluxe Edition already has to it's name. There is certainly some good, solid reasons to pick up the extra pieces, and I'd say, coming up to the Christmas period, it's the best time to pick it up.

Zimmer knows how to balance a score, for sure. There is a good amount of synth here, but it's not too overpowering like a lot of reviewers and score fans would like to argue. I found that he managed to interweave synth with orchestral, to create almost perfect harmony. There is never any stage at which any certain instrument or section overpowers all those around it in a negative manner. The percussion constantly rises above the rest, slowly but surely, to drown everything else out. Never did I find this annoying, like I thought I would. This happens in the case of brass, of strings, of pretty much every single instrument you can imagine. It's never overdone, never overpowering. It's close to perfection, how well he balances everything out. Zimmer gives us a taste of everything, and makes sure you love every minute of it!

Conclusion:
Hans Zimmer has created something, that in my opinion, is close to pure perfection. The Zimmer haters will undoubtedly hate this score, and to be honest, I can see why. He certainly didn't hold back on the grunt that this score offers, something that is fairly common within Zimmer scores. Others will call this a travesty, something that doesn't deserve to be called a Superman score. I can understand where they come from. Doesn't mean I don't completely disagree with them! This is a powerful, fun, sad and intense score that pleased me beyond belief! The first time I heard it, I simply couldn't think critically. I sat back, and enjoyed. After listening to so many scores, finding something that just has me sitting back and admiring is something that is quite bloody rare! Zimmer has balanced this score perfectly, drums with piano, brass with strings, synth with orchestral. This, to me, is one of the best scores I've ever heard. Buy it, listen to it, love it!

Junkie Score (Standard Edition): 100
Junkie Score (Deluxe Edition): 97.5

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