Visit the Movie Wave Store | Movie Wave Home | Reviews by Title | Reviews by Composer | Contact me
JUSTICE LEAGUE: THE NEW FRONTIER
Action-packed score hampered by electronic performance
A review by JAMES SOUTHALL
Music composed by
* * *
Album running time
Album cover copyright (c) 2008 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.; review copyright (c) 2008 James Southall
A cartoon from Warner Bros. featuring all the old favourite superheroes (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman etc), Justice League: The New Frontier features a score by Kevin Manthei. He talks in his liner notes about a classic 100-piece orchestra sound, but sadly was restricted by budgetary limitations to synths and a handful of live players - a little like Robert J. Kral's music for Superman Doomsday (also released on CD by La-La Land Records).
Another thing Manthei mentions in his notes is that he wanted to evoke 1950s Bernard Herrmann rather than writing a very modern score, and I don't think he really does that - particularly given that the opening title is a pretty thinly-disguised reworking of Danny Elfman's blisteringly good theme from Spiderman and the second, sections of the same composer's Batman (which does admittedly draw from Herrmann itself). Fortunately, just as one begins to suspect this may turn out to be a patchwork quilt of Elfman paraphrasing, Manthei injects enough fresh music to stop that from happening.
It's a generally bright and expansive sound - the kind that one instantly thinks of when superhero scores get mentioned, but which since Superman haven't actually been heard all that often. Those sections are good enough compositions, but seriously hampered by the electronic performance which is a great pity because it makes listening very difficult. Less badly affected are the score's darker moments, but even here one longs to hear what an orchestra would make of the music. Some of it is so well-written, but it's very difficult to imagine people would choose to listen to it when there are thousands of hours of similar music available which is played by live orchestras. A pity - but I'm sure there will be many fans of this music all the same.