While not as bombastic and sweeping as the score for “Batman: Mask of the Phantasm” (1993), composer Mike McCuistion (a member of Shirley Walker’s team from the animated series) delivers a finely tuned and tragically poetic score for “Batman & Mr. Freeze: Sub Zero” (1998).
Beginning with a rendition of Danny Elfman’s original movie theme, the score quickly establishes its own rules and tone…first and foremost with a new love theme for Victor and Nora Fries with the “Nora” cue. It plays as a bit of an homage to “Heart of Ice” with its twinkling romantic nature, but ultimately I think this version is even better.
From there, things pick up and the jazz nature of the score rears its head with a delightfully upbeat arrival to “Gotham City.” For some reason, jazz seems to work exceedingly well within the confines of “Batman: The Animated Series”…as referenced in the score for the “Bullet for Bullock” episode of the show.
Here, we get a great uplifted orchestra full of swinging brass and lively woodwinds — which I love.
The jazz motif turns full on swing when it makes another appearance in “Shaugnessy’s Restaurant” while Dick Grayson and Barbara Gordon are on their date.
On top of everything else, McCuistion provides us with his very own Batman theme…which is just phenomenal without stepping on the toes of Walker or Elfman. I wish the theme had been used more than once, but it’s a welcome piece of music to lyrically describe the character of Batman.
Mr. Freeze (as the villain of the piece) gets a new theme as well…and what I love about it is the fact that, given his tragic origin, the theme was tailored by McCuistion so that it could play off either as an outright villain motif…or as an uplifted variation when Freeze aids Batman and Barbara in rescuing Nora from the oil derrick.
Aside from those standouts, a lot of the cues are fairly routine for “Batman: The Animated Series” as far as catchy action cues full of panache and rhythm. In the end, Mr. Freeze’s love theme for Nora is the star (playing on the film with “End Titles”).
I wish Warner Bros. would re-release this one…it’s a great addition to the Batman musical library to be sure.
“Batman & Mr. Freeze: Sub Zero” Original Motion Picture Score (Michael McCuistion, 1998)
Composed by … Michael McCuistion
1. Main Title / Submarine
2. The Cave
3. Nora / Vengeance
4. Gotham City
6. Batman & Robin
7. Fundraiser Party
8. Batgirl Appears
9. Frozen Road / Mr. Freeze Is Back
10. 1st Clue
11. Blood Donor
2. Shaugnessy’s Restaurant
13. The Kidnapping Of Barbara
14. The Chase
16. Donor Files
17. Trying To Escape
18. Nowhere To Run
20. Belson’s Home
21. Break In
22. Break Out
23. Bat Plane / Surgery
24. Heroes Are Here
25. Bears / Fire / Explosions
26. Bat Rescue
27. Run For Nora & Noonak
28. Freeze’s Destiny / Big Explosion
29. Nora Is Alive
30. End Titles
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