Not every film score is award-worthy. Whether it’s the wrong style, the wrong composer, or both, I present the worst film scores I’ve ever listened to. Scores I consider either generic or underwhelming won’t be featured. Multiple scores by the same composer are fine. Individual pieces from a score are also fair game. At the bottom reside honorable mentions.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Henry Jackman): I’ve talked about this one in passing before. The first Cap film had a patriotic, catchy score by Alan Silvestri. This one, however, pulls a 180- if not a 200- right off the first track. It starts with a Zimmer-esque horn blast after about half a minute of low synth, followed by another minute of synth and a second horn blast. It’s about that time, or another minute give or take, that you realize the remaining score’s almost nothing but gratuitous synthesizer and occasional strings/horns. It becomes unlistenable for all the wrong reasons.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (Hans Zimmer and Tom Holkenborg): Strike one, Zimmer! Combining composers on films sometimes results in great scores and sometimes not. The results here are less than good. Zimmer’s collaboration with Holkenborg (better known to some as Junkie XL), resulted in loud horns, thundering strings and an annoying drumbeat that somehow classifies as a theme mixed with synth. Now where have I heard that style before? I wrote a review when the movie came out (“Score Review: Batman v Superman…”), so check that out if you want my full opinion.
Goldeneye (Eric Serra): The Frenchman became the fifth composer of the prestigious Bond franchise in 1995 joining the late John Barry, the late Marvin Hamlisch, Bill Conti and the late Michael Kamen, respectively. Although Goldeneye was wonderful, the score lacked. In what seems to be a common theme on this list Serra’s overuse of synth and little use of a traditional symphony (there’s only one full orchestral track), doom this score. It was so bad the production company hired another composer to orchestrate/rearrange a part of Serra’s score to make it sound more Bond-esque!
Selections from The Dark Knight Rises (Hans Zimmer): Strike two! I can’t include the full score because there are some good parts. However, when Zimmer reuses themes, riffs, etc., he reuses them like no other composer. And that’s the problem here. Half the score sounds identical to The Dark Knight (which is the only score out of the trilogy I listen to). Like I said, there’s some good things in Rises but when you start hearing the same rhythms over and over it becomes very annoying.
Man of Steel (Hans Zimmer): Strike three! From the second I read Zimmer wouldn’t be using the classic Superman theme (not that I should’ve expected him to), I knew this wouldn’t live up to the other scores. Hans didn’t disappoint, crafting a score that got poor reception and sounds a lot like his previous works. Seriously, put the Man of Steel score next to any track from The Dark Knight Trilogy and play them together! Although the theme itself isn’t the worst Superman deserves better!
Transformers: Age of Extinction (Steve Jablonsky): I like the first Transformers score more than I dislike it, despite its blatant Zimmer influence (he assisted in its composition). It’s got good themes and a nice mix between loud and soft. The second and third scores in this franchise had one or two memorable pieces each. And then you get to the fourth. I seriously hope Jablonsky just became bored, because this score contains nothing memorable. It’s either all themes we’ve heard before or new material- and the new themes aren’t half as good.
Select Marvel Movies (Brian Tyler): Brian Tyler must’ve either studied where Hans Zimmer did or listened to his work a lot, because Tyler sounds similar to him at times. When I first heard Tyler’s work I tended to like it. When he became a major composer for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (that also includes Jackman and Silvestri) problems emerged. Most notably, his themes weren’t all that memorable and he disregarded almost every theme previously made to the MCU, no matter how memorable it was. At least Jackman kept the Silvestri theme!!
Power Rangers (Brian Tyler): A decades-long TV show with one of the most memorable TV show themes ever- how can a score to a movie adaptation not be amazing? Enter 2017’s Power Rangers score. This should’ve been easy. Include the TV show theme a few times, throw in guitar riffs for the heck of it, a few new themes and bingo! What Tyler gave us isn’t any of that. Read my full review for a detailed look at the score.
Fant4stic (Marco Beltrami and Phillip Glass): It wasn’t a surprise to me that one of the worst superhero films ever should get an equally mediocre score, teaming up horror composer Beltrami with movie newcomer Glass. The main theme explains what’s wrong: it starts off sounding like one type of song, and then shifts to a completely different type of song! Not one I’d want to listen to again.
Interstellar (Hans Zimmer): We get it, Zimmer, Gravity’s score is amazing. Now can you please stop trying to imitate it every other measure? When Nolan said he was tired of the same old strings and drums, I hope this wasn’t what he had in mind! Interstellar sounds more like the score to a spa then a major film. Yes it’s unique compared to your other works but it also comes across as a sub-par imitation of one of the best film scores ever made!
Pompeii (Clinton Shorter): Another member of the “Zimmer imitators club”, Shorter’s only major film score I know of has the loud drumbeats, loud choir, and whirring strings intercut with quiet moments. It sounds so reused overall that its hard to tell who wrote it. That’s one of the worst comments you can give a score.
The Amazing Spiderman 2 (Hans Zimmer and the Magnificent Six): Zimmer’s team up of himself with six composers/pop artists/producers including Pharrell Williams and Tom Holkenborg resulted in a score that’s full of everything you’d expect from combining Hans Zimmer with six other composers/pop artists/producers. Cue the overused synths, drums, horns, weird electronic remixes, what’s supposedly dubstep, and the strangest Spiderman theme yet. I only found the first five to six minutes good.
Twilight (Carter Burwell): Give Burwell some credit, he did try and make this score sound interesting considering the movie it was in. A score, unfortunately, can’t save a movie by itself and such is the case with this one. I’d probably like it if it wasn’t the score to Twilight, of all book-to-film adaptations. I almost feel sorry for Burwell having to score what he did.
Poseidon (Klaus Bladet): Somehow this score doesn’t fully seem to match up with the movie it was written for, sounding too heroic and upbeat for a disaster movie. Also, sprinkled throughout are hints of Pirates of the Caribbean, which only reminds you that Pirates is much better than this score is. Bonus trivia: guess who wrote the Pirates theme. Hint: it wasn’t Bladet.