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Author Topic: Danny Elfman’s Justice League Score  (Read 2892 times)

Offline zDBZ

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Re: Danny Elfman’s Justice League Score
« Reply #70 on: Thu, 23 Nov 2017, 04:09 »
Haven't seen the film yet, but I do want to comment on something I've thought about for a while re. film scoring...

I reject out of hand the idea that, because a new iteration of these characters comes along, everything must start from scratch, including the music. Leaving out personal bias, there's a good reason to retain established themes, and the best example of it is James Bond. As has been mentioned in this thread, he's gone through six actors, ten directors, and numerous writers, composers, and producers. He's been played as elegantly ruthless, strayed into science fiction, come dangerously close to Jason Bourne territory, entertained intentional camp, and flirted with the epic. Throughout all the (sometimes radical) shifts in look, tone, and attitude, certain building blocks of the filmmaking have stayed in place: the gun barrel opening, the opening credits sequence with the women, the supporting cast at Mi6 (except in cases of death or retirement)...and the James Bond Theme. Some might dismiss these as superficial elements, but they're crucial to lending the series a certain consistency throughout all the big changes, and they give a general audience - not necessarily hard-core fans, but a general audience - a place of comfort. So that, when the films undergo rather dramatic shifts in style and tone, there are at least a few easily identifiable pieces to latch onto and say "this is still Bond."

And retaining the Bond theme hasn't been limiting to composers who've worked on the series, so far as I can see. The theme itself is rearranged, re-orchestrated, and incorporated to whatever else the composer does in every film. Another (less consistent) example would be the Godzilla series. In the Showa era, themes varied according to the composer, but by the late 80s, Akira Ifukube's melodies had been settled on as the defining music of the Toho kaiju, or at least for Godzilla himself; hence, even if Ifukube wasn't composing, most of the films since have used his theme.

IMO, superhero film series should've been following this practice from the start. To bring in personal bias - film scores are the last best means for orchestral music to enter into the culture, and certain themes and melodies - including John Williams' Superman theme - have obtained the same prevalence in our culture as the most recognized works of Beethoven, Wagner, etc. Again, things might be different for hard-core fans, but for a general audience, that sort of music does become iconic and definitive. And Elfman's point in interviews about how such melodies become like DNA should be better understood. A strong, central melody, like his Batman theme or Williams' Superman theme, doesn't have to sound constantly throughout a soundtrack, but it can inform how the rest of the soundtrack is written. The themes themselves, especially if they're vintage, can be saved for key moments - the approach Elfman seems to have taken with this score.

And I think his use of Williams' Superman theme is a great example of how arrangement and orchestration can inject new life and color into an established theme. Dropping in a brief reprise of the main melody, arranged in a new key, juxtaposed against harsh and dissonant strings, can turn what was meant to be a very driving, upbeat, heroic sound into something menacing. Williams himself has shown that trick off for years as he's reworked his themes for Harry Potter and Star Wars to fit new scenes and situations. So the argument that an established theme somehow wouldn't be appropriate to a new take on these characters doesn't hold water for me; a talented enough composer (and orchestrator) can make them work for nearly any mood.

Of course, I might feel differently if I liked anything that Zimmer and XL had done in the previous films - but I didn't. Outside of a few films (in which he had others' melodies to work with), Zimmer has never been a favorite of mine, and music was just one of many aesthetic elements of BvS I found unremarkable and unpalatable.

Offline The Laughing Fish

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Re: Danny Elfman’s Justice League Score
« Reply #71 on: Sat, 25 Nov 2017, 08:15 »
IMO, superhero film series should've been following this practice from the start. To bring in personal bias - film scores are the last best means for orchestral music to enter into the culture, and certain themes and melodies - including John Williams' Superman theme - have obtained the same prevalence in our culture as the most recognized works of Beethoven, Wagner, etc. Again, things might be different for hard-core fans, but for a general audience, that sort of music does become iconic and definitive. And Elfman's point in interviews about how such melodies become like DNA should be better understood. A strong, central melody, like his Batman theme or Williams' Superman theme, doesn't have to sound constantly throughout a soundtrack, but it can inform how the rest of the soundtrack is written. The themes themselves, especially if they're vintage, can be saved for key moments - the approach Elfman seems to have taken with this score.

And I think his use of Williams' Superman theme is a great example of how arrangement and orchestration can inject new life and color into an established theme. Dropping in a brief reprise of the main melody, arranged in a new key, juxtaposed against harsh and dissonant strings, can turn what was meant to be a very driving, upbeat, heroic sound into something menacing. Williams himself has shown that trick off for years as he's reworked his themes for Harry Potter and Star Wars to fit new scenes and situations. So the argument that an established theme somehow wouldn't be appropriate to a new take on these characters doesn't hold water for me; a talented enough composer (and orchestrator) can make them work for nearly any mood.

John Williams' theme is definitely iconic, no disputing that. But here is the thing: Superman, whether anybody likes it or nor, still has a history long before the score that John Williams composed in 1978. The same thing goes for the Donner movie. If we keep paying homage to a particular theme because of a sense that it's iconic, it only stifles creativity and variety.

I've always regarded that Danny Elfman's Batman scores for the Burton films to be the best to this day. But, putting that aside, I found his JL score to one of the weakest parts of this film. Even I don't compare it to B89 and BR, for me, it's just bland and forgettable. On top of that, his Batman theme and Williams' Superman theme were just musical cameos. If this is how Elfman scores music nowadays, he's lost his touch.

I was never the biggest Zimmer myself, his musical collaboration with James Newton Howard for the Nolan films were absolutely dull with the exception of Bane's theme. But for what it's worth, I don't begrudge for not reusing the Elfman theme. In principle, I was in favour of starting something different, even if I didn't like the result. I actually do prefer his MOS and BvS collaboration with Junkie XL. The music in those two soundtracks were just much more impressive and creative than what Elfman offered here.
« Last Edit: Sat, 25 Nov 2017, 08:18 by The Laughing Fish »


Quote
Jonathan Nolan: He [Batman] has this one rule, as the Joker says in The Dark Knight. But he does wind up breaking it. Does he break it in the third film?

Christopher Nolan: He breaks it in...

Jonathan Nolan: ...the first two.

Source: http://books.google.com.au/books?id=uwV8rddtKRgC&pg=PR8&dq=But+he+does+wind+up+breaking+it.&hl=en&sa=X&ei

Offline The Dark Knight

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Re: Danny Elfman’s Justice League Score
« Reply #72 on: Sat, 25 Nov 2017, 09:19 »
Elfman’s score was garbage.

Zimmer had the guts to create a brand new theme for Superman, like other composers had done before him. His back was up against the wall, with the constant droning about how good Williams was. And he delivered, at least to me, big time. He UPDATED the music for the next generation, while retaining the general spirit.

If Elfman had his way, Zimmer would’ve just kept using the Williams theme. And that would mean my favorite Superman score wouldn’t even exist. Zimmer’s MOS and BvS scores had power and poignancy, and when compared to Elfman’s pitifully bland effort, it’s a masterpiece. Why didn’t Elfman use Nelson Riddle’s theme for B89 and BR? I thought this guy hated composers creating new themes for different interpretations?

Elfman doesn’t get it. The sound for the new films had already been ESTABLISHED. Dredging up the past clashed with that and didn’t make any sense. When the Batmobile exists the Flying Fox he uses the B89 theme, but it’s largely drowned out by background noise. So it makes you think why he even bothered using it at all. It’s all very backward, safe and confusing.

I’ve been hard on Zimmer during the TDK days, but he at least remained CONSISTENT with the Nolan era sound. I respect that. His music grew on me over time and when compared to modern day Elfman, he’s my preference these days.
« Last Edit: Sat, 25 Nov 2017, 09:23 by The Dark Knight »

Offline zDBZ

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Re: Danny Elfman’s Justice League Score
« Reply #73 on: Thu, 30 Nov 2017, 07:50 »
John Williams' theme is definitely iconic, no disputing that. But here is the thing: Superman, whether anybody likes it or nor, still has a history long before the score that John Williams composed in 1978. The same thing goes for the Donner movie. If we keep paying homage to a particular theme because of a sense that it's iconic, it only stifles creativity and variety.
Well, there's a history for Superman before the Fortress of Solitude. And for Batman before the Batmobile. When certain aesthetic elements get introduced, if they catch on in a big enough way - with the creative teams that continue these characters, with the general audience, or with both - they end up absorbed into the basic DNA of the character's world. You don't swap in a spaceship anchored off the coast of the Amazon, or a lavender hover car with ears around the cockpit, just because you're doing a "new" version; you do variations on the established elements. Those examples don't make for a perfect analogy with a musical score, but the same basic principle applies.

And it's just not true that retaining a theme stifles creativity and variety. Go back to Bond - the continued presence of Monty Norman's theme didn't stop Marvin Hamlisch from drawing on disco, or Éric Serra from writing an "avant-garde" techno score, or John Barry from trying out a number of styles throughout his long tenure on the series. The theme, in all those cases, was reworked to fit the larger score, not the other way around, and in effect became a "musical cameo," as you put it. Which is not an inherent negative. Doing variations on a theme, by its nature, provides variety, in how it demonstrates the ways one piece of music can be stretched and turned and arranged.

Why didn’t Elfman use Nelson Riddle’s theme for B89 and BR? I thought this guy hated composers creating new themes for different interpretations?

Elfman doesn’t get it. The sound for the new films had already been ESTABLISHED.
I can't speak for Elfman, obviously, but there are a number of practical reasons why the 66 Batman theme (written by Neal Hefti; Riddle was the series composer) wasn't used. 20th Century Fox could've refused to allow its use; Michael Uslan was dead set against having any connection to the 60s series; Peters and Guber might not have wanted it, if only so they could push the Prince album; Tim Burton could've been opposed to using it (when an interviewer at the time asked him why he hadn't included the theme, Burton reportedly just shrugged). The composer does not have final say on the music any more than an actor has a say on which of their takes gets used. But Elfman - and others involved in B89 - may have concluded that the 60s series, being deliberate camp and satire, was somewhat removed from the character, and that their efforts - including their musical efforts - were the first high-profile attempt to establish an "authentic" take on the character outside of the comics.

And were I in Elfman's place, I might have said, for all the reasons I've given, that the sound for the characters had already been established, and a new film attempting a different sound simply for the sake of having something new was in error.

Offline The Laughing Fish

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Re: Danny Elfman’s Justice League Score
« Reply #74 on: Thu, 30 Nov 2017, 11:32 »
And it's just not true that retaining a theme stifles creativity and variety. Go back to Bond - the continued presence of Monty Norman's theme didn't stop Marvin Hamlisch from drawing on disco, or Éric Serra from writing an "avant-garde" techno score, or John Barry from trying out a number of styles throughout his long tenure on the series. The theme, in all those cases, was reworked to fit the larger score, not the other way around, and in effect became a "musical cameo," as you put it. Which is not an inherent negative. Doing variations on a theme, by its nature, provides variety, in how it demonstrates the ways one piece of music can be stretched and turned and arranged.

The James Bond theme may have had a rich history, but Batman and Superman have never had the same success. Look at the rehash of the Williams score in Superman Returns, and it brought nothing new or innovative to offer. Yes, Elfman only uses the Batman 89 and Superman 78 themes as cameos in JL, and it is kind of a bad thing as it doesn't really elicit a strong emotion, at least not from me. Besides, you might see a hardcore Spider-Man fan who finds the 1960s cartoon theme as definitive, but that wouldn't stop Elfman from creating his own score for the Raimi films, did it? If we had the attitude that the Elfman score is the "be all and end all" that must be rearranged, we might've missed out on Shirley Walker's BTAS theme which is just as good (ironically, it was definitely influenced by Elfman's theme but then it became its own).

As I said before, I love both Elfman and Williams scores, but there is more to Batman and Superman than just the music.


Quote
Jonathan Nolan: He [Batman] has this one rule, as the Joker says in The Dark Knight. But he does wind up breaking it. Does he break it in the third film?

Christopher Nolan: He breaks it in...

Jonathan Nolan: ...the first two.

Source: http://books.google.com.au/books?id=uwV8rddtKRgC&pg=PR8&dq=But+he+does+wind+up+breaking+it.&hl=en&sa=X&ei

Offline Travesty

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Re: Danny Elfman’s Justice League Score
« Reply #75 on: Thu, 30 Nov 2017, 17:44 »
I thought I would put this here, since it's somewhat relevant. This is a BR trailer, cut to look like the movie was made by Snyder. He used a different filter, and then edited some of Junkie's/Zimmers music in here, and it works really well. I know earlier some said putting a different score on a movie feels out of place, but I gotta say, I think this works here....or at least, for this little 2 min trailer. Either way, I thought it was interesting to share.

<object width="560" height="400"> <param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/Rl_RN8RD4qI&fs=1&start="></param> <param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param> <embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/Rl_RN8RD4qI&fs=1&start=" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowfullscreen="true" width="560" height="400" wmode="transparent"></embed></object>

 

    
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