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Justice League by Danny Elfman (Review)

posted Dec 5, 2017, 3:26 PM by Kaya Savas   [ updated Dec 5, 2017, 4:20 PM ]

Justice League has finally arrived, and this mess of a film and score is probably what everyone was expecting given the bumpy road WB took to get here. Instead of doing something original, DC had to copy Marvel’s model and do their own “Avengers”. The result is a complete mess. So let’s walk through the events that led us to this movie. Hans Zimmer announced he would depart Justice League and leave it to Tom Holkenborg to finish up this journey with Zack Snyder, Zack Snyder lost his daughter to suicide and then departed the project after wrapping production to be with his family, Joss Whedon took over the film to guide it through post production, desicisions were made to re-shoot a lot of the film including almost all of Henry Cavill’s scenes, Joss Whedon fires Tom Holkenborg off the film and replaces him with Danny Elfman, and then Danny Elfman decides to reprise his Batman theme and John Williams’ Superman theme for the sake of thematic continuity. Now we’re here.

Danny Elfman is one of the most capable composers and storytellers in the industry, so it’s absolutely baffling why he made the decisions he made. And normally you could blame the director, the temp or producers for iffy decisions in the score but here it seems Danny pushed for all the musical choices. Let’s start with the inclusion of themes from past incarnations of these characters.

As you know, Danny Elfman scored Tim Burton’s Batman and Batman Returns, and his Batman theme was very popular. Now, I’m all for musical continuity, in fact I think Marvel’s weakest point is the lack of musical continuity except for The Avengers which somehow managed to keep Silvestri’s theme despite Silvestri not doing #2. I also think that this relatively new concept of “cinematic universes” has kind of made it difficult to know when a creative vision has started and ended. Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy is easy, it had the same director, cast and crew for all the films, and it was simply a trilogy. It was a finite start and end to a creative vision. It would make no sense for Hans Zimmer to reprise that Batman theme in Batman v Superman, and it would have made no sense of Hans Zimmer used Danny Elfman's Batman theme for Batman Begins. Just like it would make no sense for Danny Elfman to reprise his Batman theme from 1989 here. Also to quote John Williams’ original Superman theme (albeit brief) made zero sense at all. Then you also have the awkward inclusion of Hans Zimmer’s Wonder Woman theme which continues to stay alive, but only for 1 scene and then it’s abandoned for the rest of the film. Pssst, characters don't only have 1 theme for the rest of film history! It's got to make sense in the context of what is being made!

So now you have this jumbled mess of themes that completely overshadow anything original that Elfman is doing in the score. Take the "Hero’s Theme" for example. Do you even remember when or how it was used? Do you remember any chill-inducing moments of heroism where the central theme scores the Justice League coming together for some impressive moments of action? I certainly don’t. In fact the entire score can be chalked up to generic heroism with nothing remotely interesting that draws you in as an audience. Steppenwolf is one of the most forgettable CGI antagonists in film history, and his by the books doomsday plot is sleep-inducing. His music is also completely forgettable. The action set pieces are so poorly constructed in the film that the music has no choice to just be loud and brassy. This score is merely a patch-up job trying to save the poorly paced editing of the entire film. And I guess they figured if they throw in the 1989 Batman theme with some John Williams quoting that maybe nostalgia will blind audiences from how terrible this big budget blunder really is.

In the end it’s just inexcusable that this much money and talent went into something that fell so flat on its face. The score is just a reflection of this mess of a film. Elfman can’t muster up any type of heroism or originality, mostly because the film is crushed by the inclusion of pre-existing themes that have no place in this film. I guarantee you that if Hans brought back his Nolan Batman theme for Batman v Superman he would be labeled lazy and unoriginal. And that’s what comes across here. It’s not just the score, but the whole effort is lazy and unoriginal. From the terrible CGI removing of Henry Cavill’s mustache, the obvious and poorly re-shot scenes that don’t mesh with Snyder’s original shots, and Elfman’s entirely forgettable pastiche effort.