Dedicated to reviews and news of music for film, TV and games

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


The Dark Knight
Music by Hans Zimmer & James Newton Howard
Warner Bros. Records 511101-2 (US)
14 Tracks 73:35 mins

The latest Batman film just premiered in London and is already huge at the US box office.
It is again directed by Christopher Nolan, with most of the cast returning from Batman Begins, save for Katie Holmes, who has been replaced by Maggie Gyllenhaal, as Bruce Wayne's love interest. Of course the most talked about addition to the cast is Heath Ledger, playing a much different incarnation of the Joker than has been seen in previous film and TV productions. Ledger is tipped for a posthumous Oscar, which may not just be a sympathy vote, as has been said, as many critics are supporting his nomination.
The score for Batman Begin saw the perhaps surprise teaming of Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard, two very stylistically different composers and, whilst it undoubtedly worked well in the film, it made for a pretty dull listen away from it, frankly. So, I approached their re-teaming on The Dark Knight with some apprehension, but also the hope that we might get something a bit more enjoyable on disc this time, so imagine my horror when the first track was so awful as to be hardly considered as music. Basically, it is just a noise and little else, and why do the current crop of superhero pictures have to feature electric guitars so prominently?
Track two, "I'm Not a Hero," isn't a lot better, though it does flow quite well early on, reprising the main thematic material from Batman Begins, but it has an overall ominous feel, with a kind of electronic pulse that dominates. It does however pick up at its conclusion, with some fast-paced action music and a heroic climax.
Whereas the first two tracks display the Zimmer touch, "Harvey Two-Face" is more Howard-styled, at least to begin with, featuring a quite sympathetic feel, but it then picks up and moves along quite powerfully, before a sad piano solo leads into some almost heartbreaking string writing, with horns joining to provide a powerful climax.
The propulsive Batman theme re-surfaces briefly at the start of "Aggressive Expansion," but soon the music turns introspective, only picking up again at the end. The following "Always a Catch" spirals into a disturbing crescendo and then falls away; whilst "Blood on my Hands" is another sympathetic, low-key offering. "A Little Push" is a very dark affair, more sound design than music early on, a brooding piece of menace. This is followed by the best track thus far, "Like a Dog Chasing Cars," an heroic, determined action piece.
"I Am The Batman" is not dissimilar to "Always a Catch," and is followed by more action in "And I Thought My Jokes Were Bad," with those electric guitars from track one (I suspect representing The Joker) making a brief return late on. "Agent of Chaos" is again dominated by darkness, though it does have movement at times, but again the sound design dominates, though the return of the sad piano motif does provide for a poignant ending.
Action largely dominates "Introduce a Little Anarchy," with the Batman theme pitted against the Joker's; whilst the final score track, "Watch the World Burn," broods away again, but gradually the strings lift it to provide a weighty climax.
Obviously, not having seen the film, I cannot say for sure, but the final album track "A Dark Knight" could (at least I hope) be the conclusion and end titles music from the film. At more than 16 minutes, it is basically just an ebbing and flowing of the main Batman theme.
In conclusion, with the style of these scores being very much dominated by the Zimmer/Remote Control style, one wonders why it is necessary for Howard to be involved at all; and, whilst there are good moments in the score, they are few and far between, with the result that, as with Batman Begins, I am unlikely to return to this disc often. Having said that, I am quite confident that the score will work well in the film and I expect I will have to wait until I can see it and later own the DVD to really appreciate it.
The accompanying booklet of this standard album release features numerous colour stills from the film, full musical credits and a note from the film's director, Apparently, however, there are three other different versions of the soundtrack; a 2 LP vinyl version, a special digipak and a collector's edition with special artwork to come after release. Warner Bros. Records are certainly making a big thing of this score's release and I leave it to you to decide whether it was worth it.


Post a Comment

<< Home