Composed by: Robert J. Kral
Distributed by: La-La Land Records
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
In the year 1993, DC comic book fans were shocked to read of the death of one of the industry’s most popular heroes: Superman. The superhero’s death sparked outrage within the comic fan community, but, not to worry – it was all just a story arc that would culminate in a return of the famous hero issues later. Superman: Doomsday is a straight-to-video release from Warner Bros. Animation based on the Death of Superman comic book storyline. It all begins when LexCorps unwittingly unleashes a monstrous creature known as Doomsday. Superman attempts to stop the murderous villain but is killed in the vicious battle that ensues. Lex Luthor seizes the opportunity to finally exhibit some control over his nemesis by creating a clone of Superman. Although the clone has all of Superman’s abilities, he lacks the compassion Superman is known for. Luthor soon loses control over his clone and, with the real Superman dead and buried, who will save Metropolis from this new monster?
The soundtrack of Superman: Doomsday was composed by Robert J. Kral, an Australian composer best known for his work on Angel and The Dresden Files. Kral has also composed music for Jake 2.0, Miracles, The Inside and Duck Dodgers, for which he won an Annie Award for Music in an Animated Television Production in 2005. Superman: Doomsday is considered one of the greatest adventures in the history of Superman, a fact that didn’t escape Robert J. Kral, who found the experience of composing the soundtrack for the animated film to be both an exhilarating and daunting experience. I, for one, believe that Kral was completely up for the task at hand.
From the opening song on the soundtrack, the listener immediately gets the idea that this is no ordinary Superman adventure. Doomsday Rising sets the theme for the murderous being known as Doomsday, a mechanically laced percussion-filled composition that is mixed in with Superman’s theme in Superman vs. Doomsday. The Death of Superman is a tragedy clearly defined through the use of violins and other assorted string instruments. The melancholy nature of the music continues in the following track, Lois & Martha. But then, in Toy Man Attacks, we are treated to a villainously demented theme that begins ominously and is intermingled with a cacophony of sound perfectly describing the maniacal tendencies of the Toy Man. This is followed by Return of the Hero, a mixture of triumphant music and the maniacal theme of the Toy Man. Later, we start to see the true nature of the Superman clone, represented by the ominous undertones in Cat Rescue. The showdown between the clone and the real Superman is climactic in nature – two foes of equal ability facing off in a final battle. The music builds in crescendo as the battle is engaged and both sides fight for the upper hand.
This is not your everyday animated movie soundtrack. In the past, one could expect a light and airy soundtrack filled with fun and fanfare. Of late, animated movies about DC comic book heroes have taken a darker turn, becoming more serious in nature. Superman: Doomsday definitely has many a dark tendency, but in my opinion, this is a refreshing trait. It allows you to forget that you are actually listening to the soundtrack of an animated movie, allowing you to bask in the sound of a composition that could just have easily been created for an epic movie event. Robert J. Kral has proven himself to be the perfect choice to tell the musical story of the death and resurrection of Superman.