Not every score is award-worthy. Whether it’s the wrong style, the wrong composer, or both, I present the worst movie scores I’ve ever listened to. Scores I consider either generic or underwhelming won’t be featured. Multiple scores by the same composer are fair game, as are individual pieces from a score. At the bottom reside some honorable mentions.
Tomb Raider (Tom Holkenborg): This is, to date, the worst score I’ve ever heard. It’s not as annoying or unlistenable as Winter Solider but it’s every other bad thing imaginable. Perhaps Holkenborg would be better suited composing for video games. Check out my full review for more.
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 the great Alan Silvestri. This one, however, pulls a U-turn 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, give or take another minute, you realize the remaining score’s almost nothing but gratuitous synthesizer and occasional strings/horns. The resulting tracks become 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 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 wasn’t. 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 producers hired another composer to orchestrate/rearrange an action track 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 decent 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. 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 (it’s become tolerable over time) 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 apparently 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 wonder if Jablonsky just became bored, because this score contains nothing memorable. It’s either all themes we’ve heard before or new material that doesn’t live up to established themes. Luckily, Jablonsky redeemed himself with The Last Knight.
Select Marvel Movies (Brian Tyler): Brian Tyler must’ve either studied at the same place where Hans Zimmer did or listened to his work a lot, because Tyler sounds similar to him at times. Maybe its just a modern action music trend. When I first heard Tyler’s work I tended to like it. When he became a major composer for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (that list 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. At least Jackman (sort of) kept Silvestri’s 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.
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 mostly 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 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 movie. 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! I just don’t get the hype behind this. It may work in the movie but it doesn’t work on its own.
Pompeii (Clinton Shorter): Another member of the “Zimmer imitators club” (the list is too long to write here), 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 it’s hard to tell who wrote it.
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 better than this score is. Bonus trivia: guess who wrote the Pirates theme. Hint: it wasn’t Bladet.