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Superman Returns
Album Cover Art
2006 Rhino
2013 La-La Land
Album 2 Cover Art
Composed, Co-Arranged, and Produced by:

Conducted, Co-Arranged, and Co-Orchestrated by:
Damon Intrabartolo

Co-Orchestrated by:
Frank Macchia
Lior Rosner
Kevin Kliesch
John Ashton Thomas
Rick Giovinazzo
Jeff Schindler

Original Themes by:
Labels Icon
(June 27th, 2006)

La-La Land Records
(December 3rd, 2013)
Availability Icon
The 2006 Rhino album was a regular U.S. release. The 2013 La-La Land Records set is limited to 3,000 copies and available primarily through soundtrack specialty outlets for an initial price of $25.
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   Availability | Viewer Ratings | Comments | Audio & Track Listings | Notes
Buy it... if you are prepared for a nearly perfect exhibition of intelligent balance between loyalty and originality in a superhero score that entertains in a multitude of ways.

Avoid it... if you are bothered by the idea of wholesale adaptation of John Williams' original 1978 score in this resurrection despite John Ottman's best attempts to integrate that classic identity into a fresh, new environment.
Review Icon
WRITTEN 6/23/06, REVISED 1/31/14
Superman Returns: (John Ottman) In the inevitable rash of superhero franchise resurrections in the 2000's, even the Man of Steel wasn't immune from studio unoriginality and profit taking. Perhaps more frightful is the fact that the original Richard Donner Superman film of 1978 is so dated that an entire generation of youth have now grown up without remembering the immense and exuberant popularity of the classic that spawned so many sequels. The storyline of director Bryan Singer's 2006 sequel, Superman Returns, did fit relatively well into the original franchise's progression, following the events of Superman's battle with fellow Krypton outcasts led by General Zod in Superman II (the destruction of New York has never been so corny or fun) and the less spectacular Superman III. It's a time in the story when Superman attempts to determine if he is indeed the final survivor of Krypton and allows that journey to let his life on Earth pass him by. The landscape has changed, with Lois Lane involved (and with a young child) and Lex Luther out of prison and a legitimate businessman. The world has seemingly lost its use for Superman, but thanks to Luther's inability to detach himself from attempts at world domination, Superman Returns contains both the personal discovery and the action pieces that everyone expects. The film was a box office success, but not enough to justify additional sequels with the same cast and crew, forcing the concept to be rebooted completely with 2013's Man of Steel. Regular Singer collaborator John Ottman had the exciting, frustrating, and dangerous task of avoiding the pitfalls of Ken Thorne, Alexander Courage, Jay Gruska, and anyone else who had written music for a Superman-related film or television series in the previous few decades. The major pitfall, of course, was the attempt to emulate the superior, established styles and themes of John Williams' highly recognizable 1978 score without simply forcing arrangements of the original music into new scenes. Thorne and Courage did just that, creating three unoriginal sequel scores that neither intelligently advanced the musical ideas of the franchise nor reprised the originals with any sense of progress. For Gruska and others in the television shows based on the character, Williams' themes were buried despite occasional attempts to rehash the heroic ambience of his foundation.

Ottman, however, is a man especially considerate of cinematic history, and while his superhero scores have usually varied from only functional to moderately appealing, he is always respectful of his conceptual environment. Few composers of his era actually make a concerted effort to research a franchise's musical history whenever yet another sequel or reinterpretation is made. Some claim to never even listen to the scores of the predecessors, and thus they produce music the opposite of what Thorne and Courage accomplished in the Superman franchise. For Man of Steel, Hans Zimmer completely ignored the concept's history and produced what was considered by leading soundtrack reviewers to be among the worst scores of that year, not to the franchise. Criticism awaits any composer who endeavors to walk the fine line that Ottman attempted with Superman Returns, with loyalty and originality always seemingly at odds. It takes a really careful and intellectual understanding of the previous material to actually pull off a successful balance between the old and the new, and Ottman managed to produce such an intelligent event for Superman Returns. His score is everything you hope for in a sequel from a new composer. Because of Singer and Ottman's early choice (and an obvious one, they state), to incorporate the existing themes due to the film's posture as a tribute to the 1978 classic, the 2006 score's foundation doesn't stray from Williams' mastery, with nearly all of the original 1978 themes used to varying degrees here. It also drops the least functional Williams theme and replaces it with a more convincing one for Luther. Ottman also addresses new challenges experienced by the character with a fresh "theme of discovery" that assists in rolling the franchise along in musical development. The base instrumentation is everything required for the reprises of old themes, while new additions expand Superman's horizons. If you sit and analyze Ottman's Superman Returns from a technical standpoint, it contains few flaws, if any. How you react to it emotionally becomes the key, and that reaction will depend on your personal history with the franchise. For Ottman, he proves his intellectual capacity in this score, something that fans of his had been waiting for the composer to do for several years since he quietly introduced himself with several dark and devious scores of delight in the 1990's. He had once commented that he yearned for the day when he could write a score primarily in the major key, and in the redeeming new theme for Superman's self-discovery, he did just that. For him, a career page was finally turned.

Ratings Icon
Average: 3.93 Stars
***** 819 5 Stars
**** 509 4 Stars
*** 331 3 Stars
** 160 2 Stars
* 100 1 Stars
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(Comment Deleted by Poster)
Mitchell Kyler Martin - December 20, 2016, at 2:26 p.m.
1 comment  (527 views)
Heads up for the La-La Land Expanded Album
Richard Kleiner - December 4, 2013, at 9:46 a.m.
1 comment  (1321 views)
Impressive score!
mike - January 29, 2010, at 2:23 p.m.
1 comment  (1722 views)
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Newest: March 28, 2008, at 8:31 a.m. by
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superman returns
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3 comments  (3263 views)
Newest: July 14, 2007, at 12:17 p.m. by
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Track Listings Icon
Audio Samples   ▼
2006 Rhino Album Tracks   ▼Total Time: 54:59
• 1. Main Titles (3:47)
• 2. Memories (3:05)
• 3. Rough Flight (5:11)
• 4. Little Secrets/Power of the Sun (2:47)
• 5. Bank Job (2:19)
• 6. How Could You Leave Us? (5:47)
• 7. Tell Me Everything (3:11)
• 8. You're Not One of Them (2:20)
• 9. Not Like the Train Set (5:10)
• 10. So Long Superman (5:29)
• 11. The People You Care For (3:25)
• 12. I Wanted You to Know (2:54)
• 13. Saving the World (3:10)
• 14. In The Hands of Mortals (2:09)
• 15. Reprise/Fly Away (4:17)
2013 La-La Land Album Tracks   ▼Total Time: 127:26

Notes Icon
The insert of the 2006 Rhino album includes a note from Ottman about the score and film. That product is an enhanced CD with trailers and footage from the recording session for the title theme. The 2013 La-La Land album's insert contains notation about both the score and film as well.
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The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten
or redistributed without the prior written authority of Christian Clemmensen at Filmtracks Publications. All artwork and sound clips from Superman Returns are Copyright © 2006, 2013, Rhino/Warner, La-La Land Records and cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 6/23/06 and last updated 1/31/14.
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