Green Lantern

James Newton Howard

" In brightest day, in blackest night; all this didn't inspire James Newton Howard, aka the Dark Knight "

Written by Thomas Glorieux - Review of the regular release

Green Lantern, a superhero movie based on the DC Comics character of the same name goes about an ordinary guy who inherits a ring from a dying alien, turns through it green and becomes a member of the Green Lantern corps, an alien race who protects all the worlds in the universe. When our own planet is threatened by Paralax, a monster of smoke (hello, it didn't work on LOST), Hal must save all of us by becoming green. I ridicule it a bit here, but somehow the Green Lantern concept didn't inspire people, barely getting its expensive budget back at the box office in the end.

Somehow Green Lantern fails to inspire. The movie does seem to do everything right, but still somehow lacks that magical element. An element that could have made it better, funnier, a lot more memorable. And honestly the same could be said about the score. I've heard the effort on disc and in the movie. Again, it does click every button it needs to inside the film. But listening to it like it's presented here, you hear James Newton Howard in uninspiring mode. And the worst of it all is, mostly it's not even his voice. Somehow working alongside Hans Zimmer on the 2 Batman movies made him forget where he came from. And the first tracks don't dare to change that assessment.

"Prologue / Paralax Unbound" is quite moody and suspenseful, lacking an epic sound, a magical approach, a fantasy element. But it does deliver a theme that's instantly memorable. And perhaps it's instantly memorable because it basically is a Jerry Goldsmith theme, namely the theme of Executive Decision. I don't know where this comes from, who wanted it in the picture, or that it's just a case of unbelievable coincidence, but somehow James Newton Howard delivers not a Hans Zimmer theme, but a Jerry Goldsmith one. Either way, it stands for the Green Lantern, the corps that is meant to protect all life in all the worlds in the known and unknown universes.

But apart from that theme, James Newton Howard's style is far from noticeable. "Drone Dogfight" is a bad ass piece for electric guitars and rhythmic beats, delivering hardly any sense of melody or a moment that sounds remotely like James Newton Howard. Somehow the Salt influence remained inside James Newton Howard's veins, unfolding moody suspense music in "Did Adam Put You Up to This?", "The Ring Chooses Hal" (briefly hinting the Green Lantern with the Jerry Goldsmith main theme) and the rather forgettable "Genesis of Good and Evil" (which has one redeeming element, namely the wonder theme).

Now let me tell you something about that wonder theme. It was the only moment I truly got excited about after my first listen. Not only does it finally deliver us something fantastical and magical, it also brings color into darkness. Furthermore it finally reveals the James Newton Howard sound we were dying to discover. The same can be said about the track "Welcome to Goa", unraveling an awe inspiring choir and electric guitar riff for the beauty of Hal's new home. Honestly, these 2 moments are by far the only moments you'll be hearing the good old James Newton Howard at work.

Because from then one, we're back to the sound of the beginning. The main theme on steroids (actually sounding rather cool) in "The Induction Process" on a bed of rhythmic beats, action music holding very little melody and all hardcore rhythm in "You Reek of Fear", a bit of good old amazement choir in an otherwise uninspired "Run" cue (the same can be said about this amazement moment in "You Have to be Chosen"), and some rather exciting end battle music that barely changes the tone, but adds some excitement to the process nonetheless.

Sadly, the producers left out what was definitely one of the best pieces of the score as well. Because the flying sequence with Hal's father definitely contained some exciting adventure music in the beginning of the film. Alas, it's not here. What's here instead is electric guitar music for "The Corps" and Ryan Reynolds quoting the Green Lantern quote. It's all about knowing your priorities right producers?

During many years James Newton Howard was always one of my safety nets, a composer who had such a typical voice one could rely on. Even his less inspired efforts of late still had that tone, but that is mostly gone in Green Lantern. What's even more disappointing, Green Lantern is a box office movie. Not a very good one, but still heroic material that could have received a better heroic score. Hearing electric guitar twangs, rhythmic beats and little if no melody is not my idea to spend my afternoon (no matter how effective it sounds inside the film). For the people who heard Salt and didn't like it, keep away from Green Lantern. Because Salt was definitely the better of the 2. I hope James Newton Howard simply had a bad year. After all, he's entitled to one. Now go back to your roots James and leave all that electronic enhanced style behind.

Track Listing

1. Prologue / Paralax Unbound (3.09)
2. Abin Sur Attacked (1.08)
3. Carol Scolds Hal (1.21)
4. Drone Dogfight (3.15)
5. Did Adam Put You Up to This? (2.25)
6. The Ring Chooses Hal (2.34)
7. Genesis of Good and Evil (2.35)
8. The Induction Process (3.05)
9. Welcome to Oa (1.42)
10. We're Going to Fly Now (1.53) Excellent track
11. You Reek of Fear (2.13)
12. The Origin of Parallax (3.25)
13. Run (5.30)
14. You Have to be Chosen (7.27)
15. Hector's Analysis (1.06)
16. Hal Battles Paralax (7.19)
17. The Corps (2.19)
18. Green Lantern Oath * (0.19)

* Featuring Ryan Reynolds

Total Length: 52.45
(click to rate this score)  
(total of 21 votes - average 2.33/5)

Released by

WaterTower Music / Reprise WTM39251 (regular release 2011)

Conducted by

Pete Anthony

Orchestrations by

Pete Anthony, Jeff Atmajian, Bruce Babcock, Jon Kull, Conrad Pope & Marcus Trumpp

Performed by

Hollywood Studio Symphony