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Green Lantern by James Newton Howard (Review)

posted Jun 17, 2011, 5:02 PM by Kaya Savas

James Newton Howard is one of my favorite composers of all-time and I really have never encountered a situation like this before. As a filmmaker and a film score fan I have certain composers who I respect highly and who are great inspirations to me. James Newton Howard is one of them and while he's had his share of so-so scores like any other composer I've always admired how he was able to always add a touch of magic even to the dull ones. With Green Lantern I may have come across my first James Newton Howard score that I dislike.

It hurts to say it but this score is not good. It's a plain old bad score that seems phoned in. There are maybe one or two moments of that James Newton Howard magic but it's all lost amidst the noise and forced emotions. The score is an electronic mash of sounds and samples that seem better fit for a saturday morning cartoon show. In no way is this a grand soaring superhero score. There are hardly any strong melodies and the theme lacks any real qualities. All we get is constant electronic percussion and way over the top strings. The kind of music where it goes "DUN DUN DUN" and the bad guy does the Dr. Evil laugh. Maybe the aim was to be a bit campy, but by doing so the score is void of sucking in the audience to give a damn. Mel Wesson provides his signature ambient design to the score and you will recognize some bits that sound reminiscent of The Dark Knight and Inception. In fact I think his ambient structures are the only real structure in the entire score. The score is so uninspiring that by the time we reach the climactic 7.5 minute track for the final battle we don't feel an ounce of emotional substance.

My thinking is that WB temped the movie with The Dark Knight and decided that James Newton Howard could come and do something similar. Hopefully he was under some sort of executive restraints because this score is just bad and doesn't sound like the James Newton Howard I grew up with and love. It pains me so much to write what I have written, but I'm speaking to what this score is communicating to me. I will continue to love James Newton Howard and he is still one of the most brilliant composers working in this industry, but I think we can all just sweep this one under the rug and forget that it ever existed.