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Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice by Hans Zimmer & Junkie XL (Review)

posted Feb 25, 2016, 4:43 PM by Kaya Savas

Zack Snyder’s CGI-fueled sequel to his Man Of Steel blunder is upon us, this time setting up the pieces for the upcoming Justice League movie and a new era of Batman flicks. Also returning from Man Of Steel is Hans Zimmer and Tom Holkenborg (credited solely as Junkie XL here). Hans’ Man Of Steel score was quite fantastic even if the film wasn’t. He created this fantastic little “DNA” motif structure that gave us pieces of the character till it finally blossomed into that amazing Man Of Steel theme we loved so much. The action arcs were classic Zimmer, and Hans utilized Holkenborg’s talents in percussion to make it a thundering adventure. Fast forward to Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice. Hans is seemingly onboard only because of obligation and to instill continuity; Tom is onboard to handle Batman and add that gothic comic book feel back to the cinematic universe. Upon completing this bridging chapter to DC's answer to The Avengers, one can’t help but feel disappointed.

So why is this score disappointing? Well, simply put, it has no heart. I found that the music’s sole purpose here was to create thundering action with not much room for nuance. I’ve always felt that Zack Snyder has no ability to craft an emotional core as a director. He has a visual style and wants things to be “cool”, but he lacks nuance as a storyteller. And that of course trickles all the way down to the score. You can tell there is a disconnect between Hans’ work here versus what he accomplished with Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. The music feels flat. The percussive action is entertaining and engaging, but it doesn’t feel unique to the story. The score does end up fulfilling its duty of being dark, brooding and loud. It does successfully envelop you and immerse you in the world. Zimmer’s Man Of Steel themes get some nice variations here, but Batman seems lost in the mix. Holkeborg’s Batman suite is definitely tracing back to Batman’s gothic roots but it doesn’t give the character too much of an identity. Maybe rightfully so, as I doubt either Hans or Tom will join Ben Affleck for his solo Batman films, leaving it to another composer to re-invent the dark knight once again. Holkenborg’s Batman motif should do the trick to give him presence in the Justice League movie without stealing too much spotlight from the rest.

So yes, the score is successful and it is entertaining for the most part. But overall it's just disappointing, it's uninspired. The score feels hollow, it feels empty. We both know what Hans and Tom are capable of, but it seems here they were under the instruction to do what they’ve done hundreds of times before. And in the end the score borrows elements from Hans’ own Sherlock Holmes scores and even Henry Jackman’s stellar Captain America: The Winter Solider. Even the first track “Beautiful Life” is just a slowed down variation of “The Jablonsky Variations On A Theme By HZ / Cameroon Border Post” from Tears Of The Sun. When the composers are grasping for thematic identity from their and their friends' work, it's a sign there was no inspiration.

This score just doesn’t have its own identity. It’s wonderfully crafted and presented to fully immerse you in the action, but in the end it lacks the heart and emotion that Hans was able to pull off in Man Of Steel. Zack Snyder has always been a conceptual over contextual director, and it seems like his self-indulgence here has trickled down to the score. Batman v Superman has some great moments, but overall it’s “concept over context” which makes it disappointingly distant and detached from the characters’ stories. It leaves us admiring a few cool melodic arcs and Man Of Steel variations, but in the end it doesn’t establish itself as something truly memorable.