There are times you want to shake things up and try something new, and there are times you want to be part of a tradition and do things a certain way, and finding the balance between those two impulses are a big part of successfully remaking any franchise film or figuring out how to add new chapters to something that is already in progress.
For example, I’m looking forward to hearing what Hans Zimmer does with the score for “Man Of Steel.” The hint we got of it in the most recent trailer for the film was enough to make me think he managed to do something that is genuinely different, somehow setting aside the huge iconic influence of the John Williams “Superman” score. That’s not easy to do. I think Michael Giacchino managed to craft a great score for “Star Trek” in 2009, and watching the sequel I was struck anew by just how great and memorable his theme really is. It’s not often I walk out of a new film these days with a score stuck in head, instantly evocative, impossible to shake.
And when it comes to “Star Wars,” the entire series so far has been defined by the majestic power of the scores by John Williams. Even the least popular “Star Wars” films, like “The Phantom Menace” and “Attack Of The Clones,” have managed to give us some of the very best themes from the series, “Duel Of The Fates” and “Across The Stars.” Williams is The Force when it comes to those films, the thing that surrounds it all and binds it together.
Perhaps, then, we shouldn’t be surprised when JJ Abrams says during a German press conference for “Star Trek Into Darkness” that he believes John Williams will be returning to score the new films. I can’t imagine it any other way. As great as Giacchino is, and as much as he’s a student of Williams and a huge fan, Williams is “Star Wars.” This isn’t a case of a brand-new series starting. If it were, then we could see trying something completely new with the music. This is meant to be part of the same world, part of the same sweeping story, and we need that music there as part of the world.
“Star Trek Into Darkness” opens May 17.