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Superman Returns by John Ottman

Pain and Gain

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Superman Returns (Soundtrack) by John Ottman
Superman Returns (Soundtrack) by John Ottman





Superman Returns by John Ottman

Superman Returns
Composed by John Ottman
Rhino Records (2006)

Rating: 8/10

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“SUPERMAN RETURNS has some of the depth and intricacy of SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE, and while it doesn't quite measure up to Williams' musical Americana, Ottman's score will stand, at the end of 2006, as one the year's best. ”

Superman Lives!
Review by Christopher Coleman


Some said it couldn't be done, but Alexander Salkind and company produced and released what became the standard for live-action, superhero-feature films, SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE, in 1978.  One successful and two horrendous sequels later, the franchise had well worn out its welcome...for that generation.  Relegated back to the small screen, and in animated form, Superman seemed to have found a place to prosper in the new millennium.  But how could such a superhero remain so contained?

Enter a young, visionary director, Bryan Singer and an actor no one had ever seen before... at least not in the sky, ahead of a bullet or above any tall building, actor Brandon Routh.  To complete the trifecta, Singer's long time collaborator, composer JOHN OTTMAN, comes along to attempt the nearly impossible - successfully returning the Superman franchise to the big screen.  In this case, success would mean keeping fans of the Donner films happy, while also making it palatable for the action-bloated, over-stimulated, audiences of today. 

Being well aware of the inevitable comparisons to its predecessors, and being fans of Donner's films and Williams' scores themselves,  Bryan Singer and JOHN OTTMAN were smart enough to realize this and ensured that due homage would be paid.  For anyone old enough to have seen SUPERMAN and even SUPERMAN II on the big screen, this homage is a welcome delight.  The opening credits maintain the stylistic-flare of Donner films.  Glimpses of Christopher Reeve's portrayal of Clark Kent can be clearly seen in Routh's performance.  The Kent's Kansas homestead is faithfully recreated.  Superman's flying mannerisms have been passed on from Reeves to Routh...and then there's John Williams' unforgettable themes. 

The score is, as one would anticipate, built upon the most recognizable Superman-themes from John Williams.  However, there is quite a bit of score that originates purely from the mind of Ottman.  The end result is, while not totally seamless, a whale of a theatrical ride and, at the least, an intriguing CD experience.  Kudos must be given to JOHN OTTMAN for dancing the finest of lines between fidelity and innovation.

John Ottoman's SUPERMAN RETURNS offers the heroic SUPERMAN fanfare and theme that so many have come to know and love.  Enticing little glimpses of the Smallville/Kent theme can heard once or twice, but most dramatically in "Memories" (track 2). Even the Krypton theme makes an appearance in "How could you leave us?" (Track 6).  This is certainly one of the most emotional tracks on the CD and is a subtle tapestry lightly featuring Williams' Krypton theme and love theme, "Can you read my mind?"

What can easily get lost in the hunt for Williams-quotes is John Ottman's own original work.  Gone is Wiliiams' comedic-villain theme and instead Ottman delivers a much more threatening, percussive piece representing Mr. Lex Luther and his new group of bumbling cronies.  A new introspective theme, found in tracks such as "You're Not One of Them" (track 8) and "So Long Superman" (track 10), is introduced and, while it takes a number of listens, is truly a stand-out piece by Ottman.  His action sequences can be a bit schizophrenic and certainly not akin to the Williams of old, but work well within the context of the film.  Of course, after viewing the film, these tracks fair better by listening to them on CD.

For those well acquainted with John Williams masterwork for SUPERMAN, John Ottman's SUPERMAN RETURN might not, at first, satisfy nor live up to high standard set decades ago.  What fans may find is that with some patience and successive listens (and of course viewing of the film) that this latest offering of SUPERMAN is quite the entertaining listen in its own right.  SUPERMAN RETURNS has the depth and intricacy of SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE, and while it doesn't quite measure up to Williams' musical Americana, Ottman's score will likely stand at the end of 2006, as one the year's best.


Rating: 8/10



Bonus Enhanced Content:

1. Superman Returns - Trailer 1

2. Superman Returns - Trailer 2

3. Behind the Scenes: Superman Returns Score

4. Look Up in the Sky:  Amazing Story of Superman (Trailer)


Track Title Track Time  Rating
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 5:20 ****
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 4:15 ****
  Total Running Time 55:08  


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