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Section Header
Man of Steel
(2013)
Regular Edition

Deluxe Edition

Co-Composed, Arranged, and Co-Produced by:
Hans Zimmer

Co-Conducted and Additional Music by:
Tom Holkenborg
Atli Orvarsson

Additional Music by:
Steve Mazzaro
Andrew Kawczynski

Co-Conducted by:
Nick Glennie-Smith

Orchestrated by:
Bruce Fowler
Walter Fowler
Kevin Kaska
Yvonne Suzette Moriarty
Carl Rydlund

Ambient Design by:
Mel Wesson

Co-Produced by:
Stephen Lipson
Peter Asher

Label:
WaterTower Music
(All Albums)

Release Date:
June 11th, 2013

Also See:
Superman
Superman Returns
Batman Begins
The Dark Knight
The Dark Knight Rises
Inception

Audio Clips:
Deluxe Edition:

CD1: 1. Look to the Stars (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

CD1: 6. If You Love These People (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

CD1: 16. Flight (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

CD2: 4. You Led Us Here (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

Availability:
Several commercial releases exist. The regular digital and CD edition contains eighteen tracks for standard retail prices. For an additional $5 to $8, the 2-CD "Deluxe Edition" includes six additional tracks. An LP vinyl edition featuring the regular album's tracks is also available. Total and track times vary due to different cross-fading on the album types.

Awards:
  None.









Man of Steel

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Buy it... if Hans Zimmer's stagnant sound design can be applied successfully to any concept in your universe, in which case this score will run the goose bumps straight from your subwoofers to your loins.

Avoid it... if you expect romance, patriotism, nobility, or even intelligence from a composition intentionally meant to bleed the Batman concept into the completely incongruent one for Superman, a stunning miscalculation by Zimmer.



Zimmer
Man of Steel: (Hans Zimmer/Various) Batman, Spider-Man, and now Superman. All of them rebooted. All of them darker, more sophisticated. Most of them battling nastier, less defined villains. Most of them with more fake muscles lining the costume fabric. Most of them claiming to be better, more modern and realistic representations. All of them existing because of a lack of intelligent new ideas in Hollywood. Immense profits don't hurt, especially when the viewers don't care about unoriginality. Instead of bemoaning the reboot culture of the movie industry, however, let's just face the truth that these famous comic book characters will be reinvented as long as people pay for them to be reinvented. Threats of a lawsuit over lost revenue from the rights-holders of Superman brought him back to the big screen in 2013, technically for the third generation of the character's cinematic existence. Doing the honors of adding the fake muscles and wholesale alien starship invasion to the history of Superman lore on screen is Zack Snyder of 300 fame, backed up by producer Christopher Nolan and a hefty budget from Warner Brothers. While the 2005 resurrection of Superman remained somewhat loyal to the various production values of the famed Christopher Reeve series of movies from a generation prior, the 2013 re-envisioning of the character in Man of Steel transforms him in the ways that modern superhero blockbusters mandate, travelling a darker, more menacing path than ever before. Man of Steel is an origin story, but one that essentially combines the narratives of the first two movies in the entire franchise and short-changing both stories as a result. The basics are all there, but the lengthy interpersonal interactions and the best elements of disguise have been replaced with outrageous action material to meet the demands of insatiable audiences with no tolerance for extended romance or existential contemplation. This version of Superman is a completely different animal as a result, one met with mixed reviews from critics who lament the lack of affable style and the abandonment of truly believable rural influence on what has essentially devolved into a franchise that requires huge ships destroying the planet to justify itself. Thirty years prior, General Zod did not need such instruments of fantasy; when Terence Stamp demanded that we kneel, his demeanor while doing so was entertaining enough to suffice.

Inevitably, the music for Superman's journey has traversed an expanse as great as that from Krypton to Earth, itself a casualty of diminished style as this franchise becomes yet another to succumb to Hans Zimmer's passion for the production of sound design. Zimmer is no doubt the most famous composer of the contemporary generation, reaching heights near where John Williams was in the late 1970's. Although Williams is still alive and productive at this time, his pencil-written mastery is no longer cool to a generation hell bent upon causing itself hearing loss courtesy film music that emphasizes its bass region without restriction. Zimmer's success has come about by a fair amount of luck, his lack of classical training in music steering him towards a career dominated by the production of music rather than the creation of it through the use of its many linguistic complexities. He has lived the ultimate life of a soundtrack fanboy, loving Williams, Ennio Morricone, Danny Elfman, and a host of his peers past and present, and remaining very humble in the respect he professes for them. But due to his knack for composing the right scores at the right times, teaming up with the right directors, and surrounding himself with an army of musicians (ghostwriters, some will say) at his own production house, he has landed himself in assignments not befitting his capabilities. Superman, like Batman before, is one such occasion. Zimmer admits as much. In fact, he fought his involvement with both franchises. In regards to Man of Steel, Zimmer confessed, "I was the reluctant bride on this one. I kept saying no. I turned down this one about three times." As anyone might expect, his desire not to step on the toes of the classic 1978 Williams score was a key concern. Never mind the fact that John Ottman walked the tightrope extraordinarily well for Superman Returns, proving that an adaptation of sorts was not only possible, but quite effective. Rather, Zimmer, as he had done with Elfman's iconic music for Batman, decided to completely sidestep the issue. "The master, John Williams, had done rather well by it, and it was part of my growing up and DNA loving John Williams' score," he said. "The inevitable comparisons are out there, but I couldn't care less about what anybody says. Find me a composer who isn't driven by paranoia and neurosis." In response, with the persistent encouragement of Snyder and Nolan, Zimmer simply did what he always does in such circumstances: force a franchise to meet him on his own terms.

As he has done with alarming frequency since his stardom was born, Zimmer indulges a tendency to get caught up in the hype generated for his music by the studios, filmmakers, and fans. As a result, he is a celebrity who accompanies every release of a major new score with countless rounds of interviews. This accessibility has always reaffirmed that Zimmer is a likable man who clearly loves playing with all the assets available to him. In many cases, however, it's also exposed him to be oddly bizarre in the decisions he makes about these blockbuster scores, and Man of Steel has yielded more head-scratchers than most. It's clear that the darker direction of this reboot, even down to the de-saturated colors of the lead's costume, required Zimmer to steer the franchise towards his brooding sound design universe. In his discussions about this direction, he admits, "One of the things Chris [Nolan] and I talked about was creating an autonomous sound landscape. I think we did that. I think if you forget the notes and just hear the ambience, you know this is The Dark Knight. In a funny way, we tried to do the same with Superman." It's no wonder, therefore that all the nobility associated with Superman is stripped from Zimmer's rendering of him. The same applies to the patriotism; there was always a presence of American pride in Superman's heroics, and all of that style of wholesome spirit is now gone. The brightness of the light has been extinguished as well. All of this despite Zimmer's claims about addressing the country's rural values. "Let's not make this Superman bombastic," he explains. "Let's make this a score which deals with and celebrates the farmers and the people in the heartland of America. Let's make this about those endless plains." And thus, a hybrid of Inception and The Dark Knight results. But how? How exactly does Zimmer's brain connect deep, broad sound design with a farm in Kansas? His answer in part was to try to address ever character moment in Man of Steel with a simple upright piano. But even these sequences, while relatively frequent, are drowned out by background layers of vaguely dissonant design. Not enough coolness in the piano, perhaps? Not a moment passes in this score during which Zimmer does not alter the soundscape to augment (or in many cases ruin) an organic performance with some totally unnecessary layer of bass manipulation or other accentuation that must inexplicably click in his brain during the production process. As a result, the softer, piano-led moments in this score lack a genuine sincerity necessary for the Kent family.

Much is always made about the ensembles that Zimmer collects for these high profile assignments, and the disconnect in Americana spirit is all the more evident because his choices for Man of Steel. For the atmosphere of the plains, Zimmer claims he was inspired by expanses of telephone wires to electrify the ambience. Likewise, he hired a steel drum ensemble to pound out the action sequences. Along with it was what he calls a "drum orchestra" with dozens of famed percussion musicians assembled to blast their way through a new identity for the work. What this sound has to do with the plains is an unanswered question. Instead, it seems like yet another situation in which Zimmer executed something for his music because he could, not because it was the right thing to do. The same could be said of many of his scores, the result of his endless tinkering with musical production toys rather that actually conjuring evocative melodic connections. Taking the challenging and rewarding route, the actual embrace of the treble region and all the typical representatives of nobility, patriotism, and heroism, was eliminated from consideration. "I was terrified of parody in any sense, even unwitting parody. Part of my very simple plan was to exorcise anything out of my orchestra, like the main instruments that I remember John Williams using, like the trumpet fanfare. I didn't use any of that. By narrowing my palette I felt I was doing something different." In reality, by narrowing that palette, Zimmer was actually simply allowing himself the license to regurgitate music he is comfortable producing. The same was true of Batman, and now there is Batman atmosphere in a Superman movie. There is not a trumpet to be heard in Man of Steel. No high chimes. No woodwinds. And with them, there is not only a lack of the aforementioned characteristics, but there is an absolute and total void in the area of romance. Just because Lois Lane no longer has that dark hair doesn't mean that there isn't any romance involved in the equation of this plot, and not even the most loyal Zimmer enthusiasts will be able to point to a single swell of romance in this score. Likewise, the action is afforded pounded drum rhythms without any sense of true malice or direction. General Zod certainly deserves more than brutish slapping of drums to accompany his menace. Both Lane and Zod are completely unaddressed in this score, Lane receiving only a continuation of the tepid family farm piano material and Zod's thematic and instrumental representations bleeding into Superman's without distinction. When you tackle major characters with sound design, perhaps that's the most to be expected.

Some of the more baffling claims made by Zimmer throughout his media tours for Man of Steel relate to his unrelenting support for orchestras. Or so he says. For all the pride he supposedly takes in employing commissioned orchestral players, he spends an awful lot of time diminishing their performances. Of course, when he talks about "orchestras," that can mean just about anything. In Man of Steel, he's actually referring to all the drum players he assembled. With enthusiasm, he relates, "I tried to create these orchestras which were unusual. At the same time, you can hear the energy and, in a way, the competition between all the players, just to give it their best." He seems to fail to realize that when you put so many drum players together in a recording, no matter how many channels of sound are involved in the listening experience, the end user can't really distinguish what's so interesting about it. The hype fills in that blank. Zimmer could have received the same result by overdubbing just a few performances several times and few, if any, in the mainstream would have noticed a difference. When it comes to real, actual orchestral players, his interest there revolves mostly around his hand-picked soloists. Even then, the hype does not manifest itself in actual results; when he advertises that he had a performer utilize a Artot-Alard Stradivarious violin for the score, he's only discussing the scene in which Krypton is destroyed. He is proud of counterintuitive approach in that cue, but its mixing again diminishes the relevance of the instrument. If you're producing Schindler's List, then the Stradivarious is important. Here, it's insignificant. When you step back and think about Zimmer's comments about orchestras, you really do have to wonder what the hell he is thinking. He has spent years taking great, organic performances and altering them with layers of synthetic processing and making them, ironically, sound sampled. Sometimes, you can't hear any of the performance nuances after Zimmer is done manipulating the bass region to its proper mind-numbing volumes. In Man of Steel, you also have a 1990's-era Zimmer choir to contend with, along with slurred electric guitar coolness that hails back to the early 90's Zimmer rock scores. In a context like Point of No Return or Drop Zone, that sound works. For Superman, it sounds like a cheap ploy to stimulate the hormones of teenagers. If you like the broadly pounding bass notes from Inception, Zimmer can't resist destroying the soundscape with some of those here as well. Since there's a metallic sheen to everything, why not? Is that a bird? Is it a plane? No! It's a "BWOOOOOOMMM!"

Zimmer does at least attempt to follow a few basic norms of film scoring in his attempt to suffice for Man of Steel. But never mind the lack of counterpoint, synchronization points, triplets, and other elements when you can take yet another superhero and largely define him with a two-note theme? His theme for Superman and Clark Kent is longer than that, especially when fleshed out for the latter. But it is essentially a series of rising two note figures (sound familiar, Batman enthusiasts?) that never really change in their compositional characteristics. Like all of the themes in Man of Steel, this one plods along at a static pace and only experiences an emotional shift in the orchestration phase. In "Look to the Stars" and "Flight," Zimmer at least has the decency to express these phrases in a slow crescendo to a heightened major-key whole note in a fashion perhaps meant as a tribute to Williams' famous Krypton cue. When this idea is conveyed by the solo piano, be prepared to nod off. No sincere emotional reach is achieved in these moments, cues like "Sent Here for a Reason," "This is Clark Kent," and "Earth" lacking any true Americana depth (where the hell are the violins and woodwinds in these cues? Oh, that's right, the drums are there for that depth when needed!). Elfman used essentially the same progressions in Real Steel with infinitely more touching results. Without adequate thematic resonance, Superman cannot soar, and there is absolutely nothing soaring about "Flight" or any of the other more ambitious cues. In that and "What Are You Going to Do When You Are Not Saving the World?," however, Zimmer does afford his longtime collectors some throwback to the 1990's in the bravado that does exist. It's too bad most of the progressions are an amalgamation of The House of the Spirits, The Lion King, and The Peacemaker, all strong scores but not the type of references you wish to encounter in this context. Another undesirable and inexplicable inclusion is Zimmer's employment of the standard female voice of lamentation. In three or four cues, you hear these soothing tones make their obligatory contributions, proving once again that Man of Steel is little more than another "lowest common denominator" kind of score. Zimmer is the man after all, who, with the help of Lorne Balfe, applied a brooding Media Ventures-era power anthem to the concept of the creation of man earlier in 2013 with the television series "The Bible." The fact that there are many similarities between that score (more female lamentation and intense bass brooding) and Man of Steel exposes Zimmer's methodology as flawed. Or at least existing out of convenience.

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Ultimately, Zimmer was right. He was the wrong man for this assignment. He wrote the best he felt capable, and he forced the concept into an untenable place as a result. Apologists will argue that Zimmer was only addressing the new style of superhero film, and that nothing more complicated was necessary. This is nonsense. Michael Giacchino has proven that sophisticated orchestral compositions can still exist in completely rebooted and reconfigured franchises, and John Ottman certainly displayed that there are ways to adapt prior identities effectively into a new context. Zimmer didn't attempt to meet Williams' mould halfway. He ran from it entirely, a remarkably silly choice given that much can still be learned from the maestro. It's not Zimmer's synthetics or taste in ambience that lies at the heart of the problem here. It's not the lack or romance, nobility, patriotism, or dynamism. It all relates back to the fact that Zimmer confesses to love producing music well beyond writing it. And it shows. All the lipstick in the world won't change the nature of a pig, and all the wickedly cool ensembles and awesome technology in the world cannot hide a horrifically simplistic and conceptually inappropriate composition. Adding to this mucky stew of discontent regarding Man of Steel, most predictably, is the commercial absurdity surrounding its album release. Pay a few more dollars and get the steel-encased deluxe edition with highly redundant bonus material. All albums include a 28-minute track of rough drafts of Zimmer performing the score solo. Unfortunately, it sounds almost identical to the final rendering! In no case do you get a coherent, chronological presentation, and if you want the much advertised surround sound version of the score, be prepared to have to download an app. Sorry, desktop users with the big, high-end sound systems, if you're curious to hear what "Launch" sounds like in DTS, you're screwed. That oversight was apparently Zimmer's choice as well. At the end of the day, this entire endeavor solicits reactions ranging from disappointment to disgust. The most outrageous statement made by Zimmer during his Man of Steel media blitz was this: "For me as a foreigner I think there's a chance to hold up a mirror to America and to let it see the things it's become a little bored with." If he truly thinks that the country is bored with the legacy style of John Williams and believes that his droning ambience is a sufficient alternative for any great quantity of the population, he still has a lot to learn about this country. Twenty years from now, sports stadiums across the country will still be playing Williams' theme long after the fad boosting Zimmer's one has subsided. The time may have come for Zimmer to shift into solely the music production role he so relishes and allow the inspiration for the compositions flowing from his company to originate from those with a deeper understanding of the musical language. *   Amazon.com Price Hunt: CD or Download

Bias Check:For Hans Zimmer reviews at Filmtracks, the average editorial rating is 3 (in 87 reviews)
and the average viewer rating is 3.02 (in 262,778 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.





 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  


Regular Average: 2.55 Stars
Smart Average: 2.71 Stars*
***** 489 
**** 478 
*** 232 
** 523 
* 1097 
  (View results for all titles)
    * Smart Average only includes
         40% of 5-star and 1-star votes
              to counterbalance fringe voting.
   Re: No ORCHESTRA?
  Edmund Meinerts -- 5/3/14 (6:55 a.m.)
   Re: No ORCHESTRA?
  Marvin Arnold -- 5/1/14 (4:47 p.m.)
   Awesome movie!
  Sona -- 4/20/14 (2:20 p.m.)
   Re: Not a bad score...
  Graham -- 2/2/14 (7:08 p.m.)
   Re: Disagree
  Michael McDaid -- 1/13/14 (9:35 a.m.)
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 Track Listings (Regular Edition): Total Time: 86:08


• 1. Look to the Stars (2:54)
• 2. Oil Rig (1:31)
• 3. Sent Here for a Reason (3:46)
• 4. DNA (3:18)
• 5. Goodbye My Son (1:57)
• 6. If You Love These People (3:03)
• 7. Krypton's Last (1:58)
• 8. Terraforming (9:46)
• 9. Tornado (2:47)
• 10. You Die or I Do (3:04)
• 11. Launch (2:29)
• 12. Ignition (1:12)
• 13. I Will Find Him (2:47)
• 14. This is Clark Kent (3:36)
• 15. I Have So Many Questions (3:21)
• 16. Flight (4:09)
• 17. What Are You Going to Do When You Are Not Saving the World? (5:26)
• 18. Man of Steel (Hans' Original Sketchbook) (28:11)

(total and track times vary due to different cross-fading on the album types)




 Track Listings (Deluxe Edition): Total Time: 114:57


CD1: (56:56)
• 1. Look to the Stars (2:54)
• 2. Oil Rig (1:31)
• 3. Sent Here for a Reason (3:46)
• 4. DNA (3:18)
• 5. Goodbye My Son (1:57)
• 6. If You Love These People (3:03)
• 7. Krypton's Last (1:58)
• 8. Terraforming (9:46)
• 9. Tornado (2:47)
• 10. You Die or I Do (3:04)
• 11. Launch (2:29)
• 12. Ignition (1:12)
• 13. I Will Find Him (2:47)
• 14. This is Clark Kent (3:36)
• 15. I Have So Many Questions (3:21)
• 16. Flight (4:09)
• 17. What Are You Going to Do When You Are Not Saving the World? (5:26)


CD2: (58:01)
• 1. Man of Steel (Hans' Original Sketchbook) (28:11)
• 2. Are You Listening, Clark? (2:39)
• 3. General Zod* (7:07)
• 4. You Led Us Here (2:51)
• 5. This is Madness!* (3:38)
• 6. Earth (6:13)
• 7. Arcade* (7:25)

* contains music composed by Tom Holkenborg (Junkie XL)




 Notes and Quotes:  


The inserts of the various albums include extensive credits and a note from record producer Peter Asher about the score and composer. Surround sound versions of the music can be accessed only by downloading an app on your mobile device (via instructions on an internal insert card). The "Deluxe Edition" is contained in a steel case that is difficult to open initially.





   
  All artwork and sound clips from Man of Steel are Copyright © 2013, WaterTower Music (All Albums). The reviews and other textual content contained on the filmtracks.com site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Filmtracks Publications. Audio clips can be heard using RealPlayer but cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 6/14/13 (and not updated significantly since). Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 2013, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.