Oh, James Newton Howard, NO!!!

I’m listening to James Newton Howard’s score to Green Lantern, and…well, I really hope that the rest of the movie rises above the music Howard has written for it.

Howard is one of the more respected composers active today — quite a few of the “Goldsmith was God” freaks at FilmScoreMonthly, for instance, seem to view Howard as Goldsmith’s heir apparent. But not on the basis of Green Lantern. Boy howdy, this score is awful.

Like many scores nowadays, this is a blend of orchestral and techno elements. I have no problem with this at all. What I do have a problem with is how depressingly conventional this score is. There is literally nothing distinctive about it. There is no sense of epic scope, to suggest Green Lantern’s blend of space opera and superhero genre. The action music could be slotted into nearly any action sequence in any film of the last twenty years; the “wonder” music for when Hal Jordan first flies as one of the Green Lanterns sounds like any other “wonder” music out there.

And worst of all, there is virtually no melody to be found here. None. There are some motifs that I heard several times, but nothing that ever develops into anything of substance. I recall when superhero flicks had themes. John Williams wrote one of the most famous ones of all time for Superman. Danny Elfman did a fine theme for Batman. Jerry Goldsmith wrote a good theme for Supergirl (it’s virtually unknown these days because, like most Goldsmith scores, it accompanied an absolute dog of a movie).

But these days? There are no big melodies, no big themes, just subdued motifs that you have to study the score to find and which aren’t remotely memorable when you do.

God, what a crashing disappointment. James Newton Howard can do so much better than this. He has done so much better than this. I truly, deeply hope that melody can make a triumphant return to film music one day soon. Michael Giacchino can’t do it all by himself.

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