Tag Archives: James Newton Howard

Skyfall (2012) – Thomas Newman

Thomas Newman is a composer who I’m fairly familiar with; I own his soundtracks for Finding NemoWall-ELemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, and The Help, all of which are pretty good. BUT they are all quite outside the action genre, so you can imagine my surprise when I learned that Newman was composing the score to the newest James Bond film. I must admit, I was a bit unimpressed during my first listen, but over time, especially after seeing the film, I’ve grown to really enjoy it and was happy to see it nominated for Best Original Score at the 85th Academy Awards.

The very first track, “Grand Bazaar, Istanbul,” opens with the familiar trumpet notes heard in David Arnold’s arrangement of Monty Norman’s “James Bond Theme” from Casino Royale (2007), called “The Name’s Bond…James Bond.” This transitions into a sort of groove that takes us completely through the opening chase sequence through the bazaar and on top of the train. It perfectly captures the excitement and anxiety of the moment, pushing forward with brass and an energetic percussion beat. There are a lot of these action-packed tracks that match the action-packed film, including tracks such as “Granborough Road,” which uses mainly strings to drive the music forward and closes with a soft rendition of the “James Bond Theme” on guitar, and “Welcome to Scotland,” which relies again on brass and percussion. A wonderful moment in the soundtrack is heard in “Breadcrumbs” when we’re treated to a more complete rendition of the main theme, typical of the James Bond films of old.

The score is not without its light moments though, which is appropriate since this is one of the more thoughtful and contemplative of the film series. “Day Wasted” features a shimmery sort of electric background before the strings come in with gentle interruptions that hint at the main theme. A later track, “Mother,” which almost sounds like it has a couple of featured voices, though it may just be an instrument that emulates the voice. Halfway through the track, warm brass sounds join the mix, helping to emphasize that Bond is home again and is being faced with his past. Other more gentle tracks include “Enjoying Death” and “Close Shave.”

Newman has done a fine job with the music to Skyfall after taking over from David Arnold, who had composed the scores to five previous Bond films. My one disappointment is that, aside from the main theme, the bits of Adele’s “Skyfall,” and a couple of instances of repeated musical ideas, there isn’t another unifying theme heard throughout the soundtrack. I had the same complaint in my review of James Newton Howard’s score for The Bourne Legacy, which lacked the unifying theme heard in John Powell’s scores to the original Bourne trilogy. Despite that disappointment, the score to Skyfall is an excellent action film score, which you don’t often get.

I would be remiss to not say a couple of things about Adele’s “Skyfall,” the title song for the film, though it was not composed by Newman (bits of it can be heard in the soundtrack tracks “Skyfall” and “Komodo Dragon”). It’s probably my favorite Bond title song (that I’ve heard), and I’m certain that it will win Best Original Song at the 85th Academy Awards.

Rating: 4 (out of 5)

1. “Grand Bazaar, Istanbul” 5:14
2. “Voluntary Retirement” 2:22
3. “New Digs” 2:32
4. “Sévérine” 1:20
5. “Brave New World” 1:50
6. “Shanghai Drive” 1:26
7. “Jellyfish” 3:22
8. “Silhouette” 0:56
9. “Modigliani” 1:04
10. “Day Wasted” 1:31
11. “Quartermaster” 4:48
12. “Someone Usually Dies” 2:29
13. “Komodo Dragon” 3:20
14. “The Bloody Shot” 4:46
15. “Enjoying Death” 1:13
16. “The Chimera” 1:58
17. “Close Shave” 1:32
18. “Health & Safety” 1:29
19. “Granborough Road” 2:32
20. “Tennyson” 2:14
21. “Enquiry” 2:49
22. “Breadcrumbs” 2:02
23. “Skyfall” 2:32
24. “Kill Them First” 2:22
25. “Welcome to Scotland” 3:21
26. “She’s Mine” 3:53
27. “The Moors” 2:39
28. “Deep Water” 5:11
29. “Mother” 1:48
30. “Adrenaline” 2:18
31. “Old Dog, New Tricks” 1:48

Total Length: app. 80 min.

iTunes Album Link

-Chad

P.S. – Read my review of this film here!


The Hunger Games (2012)

I read Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy a month or so before the release of the first film, and I was immediately addicted. The dystopian world that Collins has created is engrossing and a bit potent…while we aren’t there just yet, it seems like we could be living in a world like that not too far from now. I attended the midnight screening of The Hunger Games and was impressed with how well Gary Ross as director and the rest of the cast and crew captured the essence of Collins’ original novel.

The minimalist approach that the filmmakers took is part of what makes it so good. Everything – from the cinematography to the acting to the score – is done in a way that is entirely non-excessive. I wouldn’t say that everything was held back, but it was all just right, entirely representative of the novel. Though the handheld camera was occasionally irritating, it certainly added a bit more realism. The settings were well done, especially in District 12 where we really get the sense of the control the Capitol has over the people and the desperation of the citizens.

Jennifer Lawrence excels as Katniss Everdeen, a girl fighting for her life. She knows the meaning of sacrifice and the value of life, and she is determined to do what she can to protect the people she love. These are all traits that Lawrence captures perfectly, and she does it all without overacting or trying too hard. Josh Henderson as Peeta, while not being exactly what I expected, does a fine job as well, and Woody Harrelson captures the wit and sort of drunken brazenness of Haymitch. Donald Sutherland gets a little extra screen time as President Snow than the character does in the first book; a couple of brief scenes are added that really delve into the character of President Snow and what his intentions are.

Movie adaptations of books are difficult to pull off well; they either entirely leave the source material behind, or they follow the book too closely and get lost in themselves. The Hunger Games does neither and manages to be one of the best book-to-film adaptations I’ve ever seen. The acting is superb, especially from Ms. Lawrence, and everything from the script to the cinematography is fantastic as well. I can’t wait to see what the next film in the series brings!

-Chad

Rating: 4 (out of 5)

MPAA: PG-13 – for intense violent thematic material and disturbing images – all involving teens

P.S. – Read my review of this film’s score, composed by James Newton Howard, here!


The Bourne Legacy (2012)

I would love to sit here and tell you all that The Bourne Legacy was just as good as any film in the original Damon trilogy, but, unfortunately, I can’t. While I did enjoy it, this is one of those films in which the bad or not-so-great outweighs the good.

*mild spoilers ahead*

The plot was weak and confusing; the entire first half of the film had me wondering what was happening, who was who, and why certain decisions were being made. While this wouldn’t have been a problem if all of my questions had been answered later in the film, most of them weren’t. I think that the film suffered from being set within the timeline of the original trilogy; references would have been fine, but this film takes place during and immediately after the third film, making things feel forced and a bit rushed. It would have been better to see the main character as a member of a completely separate, unrelated-to-Bourne project so that the film could be viewed less as a sequel and more as a continuation with a new focus.

I also wasn’t a huge fan of the whole “chemically-altered super-human” part of the story…it worked for Captain America because he is a superhero set in a different universe with different rules than ours. While this type of chemical altering may eventually become reality in our own universe, it just feels silly in the context of the film; a super-human doesn’t have the same appeal as a highly-gifted and intensely-trained person in a non-superhero world.

I enjoyed Jeremy Renner as Aaron Cross, but I felt that the character’s “motivation” was not adequate enough to justify the full movie. It is not the attempt on his life that motivates him (at least, it doesn’t feel like it is), but, rather, his dependency on some pills distributed by the organization he works for that seems to push him into action; the entire middle portion of the film is watching Cross find a way to get his hands on some of these pills. I also had a problem with Rachel Weisz’s character, Dr. Marta Shearling, a woman who seems to take no issue with the fact that Cross is capable of fighting and killing with apparent ease…there’s not even a moment’s flicker of doubt as she continues on her journey with this violent man. In The Bourne Identity, Marie tried to run away from Jason Bourne when she found out who he was and what he was capable of, only staying because Bourne convinces her that she needs him to survive…for at least a little while. There’s a moment that is sort of like this in The Bourne Legacy, but it is subdued and less effective. She asks no questions and makes no attempts to flee.

Though the character wasn’t as fleshed out as he could have been in the script, Renner as Aaron Cross worked wonderfully as the follow-up to Damon’s Bourne. Renner plays the character with a resolve that almost makes you forgive the rocky motivations that Cross acts on. Edward Norton was excellent in this film. His character, Eric Byer, is in charge of cleaning up after the CIA’s “Treadstone” and “Blackbriar” programs (the programs that created/tried to kill Bourne, respectfully). He’s got a sharp tongue, a firm authority, and a sense of urgency that you can’t help but admire. Another bright part of the movie was the action; Jeremy Renner did a great job with the physical aspect of the character as well, giving us fight scenes that, while not as inspired as the first fights in The Bourne Identity, entertain without becoming too much of a good thing…with one exception. The last twenty minutes or so of the film consists of one overly gratuitous chase sequence…it just takes way too long.

*end spoilers*

Let’s face it: The Bourne Legacy had quite a – well – legacy to live up to. The original trilogy starring Matt Damon in the title role was excellent in terms of plot, character development, emotion, and action. Unfortunately, Legacy fell short in just about every regard, but just because it isn’t as good as the original trilogy doesn’t mean that it isn’t enjoyable – because it is. The Bourne Legacy delivers plenty in the way of action and humor, and, after his brief screen time in The Avengers earlier this year and his supporting role in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, it was nice to see Jeremy Renner as the main protagonist. Boosted along by a fantastic score by James Newton Howard, The Bourne Legacy may disappoint die-hard fans of the original trilogy, but it is still a fairly entertaining summer action film that will please the average moviegoer.

Rating: 2 (out of 5)

MPAA: PG-13 – for violence and action sequences

P.S. – Read my review of this film’s score, composed by James Newton Howard, here!


The Bourne Legacy (2012) – James Newton Howard

When I first learned that James Newton Howard was to be composing the score, I was actually a little bit worried – not because of my lack of faith in Newton Howard as a composer, but because it’s such an opposite film from the kinds he normally composes for. When I think Newton Howard, I think beautiful, flowing melodies, rich orchestra, and perhaps a warm brass fanfare or two…I certainly don’t think “action film”. John Powell composed the scores for the original Bourne trilogy, so I was surprised that he didn’t return. Despite my reservations, however, Newton Howard did a splendid job.

 I have two favorite things about this album: 1) the opening track, “Legacy”, contains the main theme for Bourne as heard in the opening track of The Bourne Identity‘s score, “Main Titles”; 2) the closing track is an updated version of Moby’s “Extreme Ways”, featuring a more orchestral accompaniment and the subtitle “Bourne’s Legacy”. “Extreme Ways” played in the end credits of all three Matt Damon Bourne films, so it’s nice to see it return.

Aside from those two tracks, much of this score is a lot more…”much-ier” than John Powell’s original scores. Newton Howard uses some of the same electronic orchestration, but he combines it with an orchestra in a way that is consistently action-packed and suspenseful. Whereas much of The Bourne Identity‘s score was a bit minimal, The Bourne Legacy‘s score features tracks like “Drone”, “High Powered Rifle”, and “Magsaysay Suite” that are much bigger and decidedly not minimal.

That’s not to say that Newton Howard sacrifices the kind of music I know him for in favor of this new, aggressive style. In fact, his traditional style of music is also featured throughout; in “You Fell in Love”, we hear a somber melody that starts dramatically in the low string part before the high strings take over and just about break your heart. Another track, “Aftermath”, opens with long, sustained strings that seem to emulate great loss or tragedy. This builds into a strong, full string orchestra that hints at a mission unfinished and more to come.

One thing I miss from The Bourne Legacy‘s score, though, is a consistent motif that is heard throughout the film that lets the audience know that something is either happening or about to happen. In Powell’s original score, you can hear what I’m talking about in the track “At the Bank”; this motif is catchy, prominent, and featured throughout, and it trains the audience to know that something awesome is going on when you hear it. There’s nothing like that (that I’ve noticed) in Newton Howard’s score, unfortunately.

Despite that small complaint, I’m overall pretty pleased with The Bourne Legacy‘s score. It keeps you sitting on the edge of your seat – or, if you’re standing, on your toes – throughout, and it supplies plenty of both compelling action and emotion, showing that this job is not just about killing people…it’s about finding who you are and doing something about it. James Newton Howard’s deviation from his normal style is refreshing and opens plenty of doors for both his career and for the continuation of the Bourne film series. This score definitely has me even more excited to see Jeremy Renner in the new film next week!

Rating: 4 (out of 5)

1. “Legacy”   2:40
2. “Drone”   4:15
3. “NRAG”   0:59
4. “You Fell in Love”   1:42
5. “Program Shutdown”   3:00
6. “Over the Mountain”   0:51
7. “High Powered Rifle”   2:50
8. “They’re All Dead”   2:48
9. “Manila Lab”   2:40
10. “Wolves/Sic Ric”   2:19
11. “Doctor of What?”   4:28
12. “Aaron in Chicago”   1:32
13. “Wolf Attack”   2:57
14. “Chem Talk”   1:35
15. “Flight 167”   3:30
16. “Aaron Run!”   1:08
17. “You Belong Here”   1:17
18. “Cognitive Degrade”   2:49
19. “17 Hour Head Start”   3:51
20. “Viralled Out”   0:58
21. “You’re Doing Fine”   1:18
22. “Simon Ross”   1:37
23. “LARX Tarmac”   1:45
24. “Magsaysay Suite”   3:04
25. “Aftermath”   2:49
26. “Extreme Ways (Bourne’s Legacy)” (Moby) 4:51

Total Length: app. 64 min.

iTunes Album Link

-Chad

P.S. – Read my review of the film here!


The Dark Knight Rises (2012) – Hans Zimmer

I don’t have much time to type this out before I go to the theater for the Batman trilogy IMAX screening, so I won’t be going track by track.

Though some of this music is taken from the previous two films’ scores, Zimmer introduces some pretty cool new themes that add a lot to the character of the album. “Gotham’s Reckoning” starts with a rhythm of two duples and two triples, which repeats through the rest of the track. This rhythm serves as Bane’s theme, and it is the musical version of the chant heard in the various trailers for the film. Sure enough, the chant comes in about halfway through the track, adding a level of anxiousness to it all; presumably, this is being chanted by Bane’s army, which, along with the random bursts of brass and aggressive percussion in the background, makes this track all the more terrifying.

Another highlight is the following track, “Mind If I Cut In?”. It opens with some eerie strings which moves into a lengthy piano solo. It brings a bit of a chill down my spine. A later track, “Despair” is really cool because it contains the best instance of the Batman theme (ascending minor third) that I’ve heard out of all three soundtracks; it’s just so pure and heroic-sounding, despite what the title may imply.

Speaking of titles implying things, “Necessary Evil” leaves me stumped – who is the title referring to? Is it Bane’s way of justifying his crimes? Or is it Batman realizing that the only way to stop Bane is to break his one rule, i.e. kill him? I sort of doubt that it’s the latter because Batman “truly [is] incorruptible”, but the track provides the emotional sound that could accompany a weighty decision like that.

There are lots of great moments to point out and talk about, but I could go on and on and on. It boils down to this: this is Hans Zimmer’s best Batman score yet. It features a pleasant mix of old and new, with new bits of music that give a glimpse into the kinds of difficult decisions and situations that Batman must endure in the film, and it concludes the trilogy in a truly impressive way.

Since Newton Howard didn’t return to collaborate on this score, Zimmer tackled it all on his own. I was worried that it would be too “Zimmer-y” for me, but he did an overall fantastic job. In fact, I’d say that the score for The Dark Knight Rises is better musically than its predecessor. As for how it enhances the movie…well, you’ll have to wait for my movie review tomorrow!

Rating: 4.5 (out of 5)

1. “A Storm is Coming” 0:37
2. “On Thin Ice” 2:55
3. “Gotham’s Reckoning” 4:08
4. “Mind if I Cut in?” 3:27
5. “Underground Army” 3:12
6. “Born in Darkness” 1:57
7. “The Fire Rises” 5:33
8. “Nothing Out There” 2:51
9. “Despair” 3:14
10. “Fear Will Find You” 3:08
11. “Why Do We Fall?” 2:03
12. “Death By Exile” 0:23
13. “Imagine the Fire” 7:25
14. “Necessary Evil” 3:16
15. “Rise” 7:11

16. “Bombers Over Ibiza (Junkie XL Remix)”  5:50

17. “The Shadows Betray You”  5:21

18. “The End”  6:13

Total Length: app. 69 min.

iTunes Album Link

-Chad

P.S. – Read my review of the film here!


The Dark Knight (2008) – Hans Zimmer & James Newton Howard

“Why So Serious?”

Opening with eerie sirens, this track doesn’t have a lot of organization or anything like that to it – that is to say, it’s chaotic, which defines the Joker. Played during the opening of the film when we’re first introduced to the character, the various sounds that range from aggressive to contemplative to insane give us our first impressions of who the Joker is and what he is capable of. Even the percussion beat that we hear throughout gives you the feeling of chaos.

“I’m Not a Hero”

Featuring a low string melody that is heard throughout the film, the coolest part about this track is that you can hear the Batman theme (the ascending minor third that I mentioned in yesterday’s Batman Begins post) played lightly in the background. This Batman theme repeats over and over again as the track goes on. Toward the end, there are a couple of random bouts of action theme with echo-y sounds and light rhythmic percussion underneath. The last 30 seconds or so are more heroic sounding, which fits in with this scene in the film; I believe this track is played as Batman makes his visit to Hong Kong and…well, I won’t spoil it if you haven’t seen it.

“Harvey Two-Face”

This track contains the theme for both Harvey Dent and Two-Face, if you couldn’t guess that from the title. Played in the strings, this melody is weighed down with responsibility, and the occasional horn solo adds a bit of a heroic tinge to it. Percussion is introduced about 2 minutes in, and everything becomes a bit more driven with purpose and emotion, possibly indicating Harvey’s transition from noble district attorney to corrupted government official. The last 3 minutes or so drops into a slow piano theme, followed by the string melody heard at the start which gets more and more intense as the track draws to a close. As a whole, this track gives us a glimpse into the conflict within Dent.

“Aggressive Expansion”

The start of this track is just as aggressive as the title implies, but then it slows to some atmospheric stuff that probably accompanies a dialogue-heavy scene or something like that. The aggression returns at the end of the track, bringing us a light version of the heavy action theme heard later in the score.

“Always a Catch”

Opening with the sirens used throughout the film that indicate that something SERIOUS is about to happen, it soon moves into a quiet bit of music that fades to the end. Perhaps a lead-in to the next track –

“Blood On My Hands”

This theme is played on the lower strings at first, and it has a heavy sort of emotion to it. Taken from Batman’s line in the film about how he’s already got enough “blood on [his] hands”, this track gives a theme to Batman’s worry that he’s not doing the right thing.

“A Little Push”

Starting with a simple enough bit of ambient music, about halfway through it becomes corrupted and twisted…much like the character of Harvey Dent.

“Like a Dog Chasing Cars”

Featuring some more of the Batman theme over a heavily rhythmic background, the main theme in this track is introduced by the French horns before being joined by the strings. It gets more and more action-y as it goes on, and we hear some of the cool brass parts at about 2:10 or so, which goes on until the last minute or so. In this last minute of the track, we hear what I sort of consider to be an anti-Batman theme; there is a sustained note that, instead of ascending a minor third, descends a whole step.

“I Am the Batman”

Mostly atmospheric, this track is played during the scene when Alfred tells the story of the jewel thief in Burma…not much to talk about here. A nice ambient track, though, and it ends with something similar to the siren at the start of “Always a Catch”…perhaps communicating the moral of Alfred’s story – “some men just want to watch the world burn”.

“And I Thought My Jokes Were Bad”

This track features the action-y theme, and it also contains something interesting: there’s a sustained note that you would assume to be the Batman theme, but it never goes anywhere. You get the sustained note, but that’s it.

“Agent of Chaos”

Most of the stuff heard here is stuff that we’ve already been introduced to, but it’s all mixed together to start with a brooding, anticipating action theme that moves into the sirens, meaning WATCH OUT! And, sure enough, we go into MORE action-y stuff that actually contains some new themes, including high string quarter notes over a lower string melody – a very cool effect. The ending is depressing though, as it features another slow piano solo and sad strings underneath. The contrast between this and what was heard earlier really makes this ending feel pretty heartbreaking.

“Introduce a Little Anarchy”

This is the coolest track on the album. It features the full-fledged action theme with an awesome underlying cello/bass counter-melody kind of thing, along with several interjections by the Batman. This track embodies all that is awesome about Batman – well, the fighting side of him, at least, and it’s non-stop action from start to finish.

“Watch the World Burn”

This track can be heard during the scene when Harvey has kidnapped Gordon’s family. You can hear the emotional tension between Dent, Gordon, and Batman as they try to negotiate the safety of the children and beg Harvey to blame the men most responsible for Rachel’s death. It ends with emotional-sounding strings that are a bit chaotic, again representing what Harvey has become.

“A Dark Knight”

This track is really long (more than 16 minutes) and features lots of different stuff…so I’ll let you listen to it on your own!

OVERALL

Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard have come together to create something even better than their score to Batman Begins. Though I would only give the music itself about a 9, the way it is used in the film is extremely effective and pushes it over the top. This album, like its predecessor, does a fantastic job with capturing both the emotional and action-y sides of Batman. Also, make sure to check out the bonus digital disc available on iTunes, containing almost an hour of new music!

Rating: 4.5 (out of 5)

  1. “Why So Serious?”          (9:14)
  2. “I’m Not a Hero”          (6:34)
  3. “Harvey Two-Face”          (6:16)
  4. “Aggressive Expansion”          (4:35)
  5. “Always a Catch”          (1:39)
  6. “Blood On My Hands”          (2:16)
  7. “A Little Push”          (2:42)
  8. “Like a Dog Chasing Cars”          (5:03)
  9. “I Am the Batman”          (1:59)
  10. “And I Thought My Jokes Were Bad”          (2:28)
  11. “Agent of Chaos”          (6:55)
  12. “Introduce a Little Anarchy”          (3:42)
  13. “Watch the World Burn”          (3:47)
  14. “A Dark Knight”          (16:15)

Total Length: app. 74 min.

iTunes Album Link

-Chad

I used this Wikipedia page to figure out when each of these tracks is played in the film.

P.S. – Read my review of the film here!


Batman Begins (2005) – Hans Zimmer & James Newton Howard

And so it begins…

For the Nolan Batman trilogy’s film scores, I want to do my best to go track by track. I may have more to say about one track than others, but I’ll try to keep it all as balanced as I can. I’m typing these as I listen through (after listening through a couple other times today).

“Vespertilio”

The opening track of Batman Begins is ominous and eerie, making you almost feel uncomfortable due to the heavy bass undertones and seeming lack of direction. The theme attributed to the character of Batman (an ascending minor third) is first hinted at in this track, though it’s more of an echo or passing Doppler-esque sound at first before building up to a more confident sound. The underlying string part is intense and brings forth a sense of anticipation that is fitting of the opening of the film; is this Batman? When will he become Batman? HOW will he become Batman? These are all questions that come to mind when I listen to this track.

“Eptesicus”

This track is filled with what I’d assume is the work of Mr. Newton Howard, due to the lyrical, haunting string melody. In fact, strings are clearly the focus in this track, with a few interjecting piano solos. It is a very emotional, remorseful bit of music, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it lined up with the flashback to Bruce’s parents’ deaths – though this is hard to ascertain due to the lack of proper track titles. It hints at one of the main bits of the action theme that we hear later in the score, which is interesting because it sort of shows how Bruce must mature into the persona of Batman before tackling the responsibilities – and consequences – head on.

“Myotis”

Opening with a strong melody from the low basses, the first two minutes of this track are largely atmospheric before we jump fully into the main action theme – our first glimpse into what Bruce Wayne has become. The rhythm of the main action theme is what contains the appeal, I think; with stresses on every other beat before a strong “3 4 1”, it’s simple and easy to latch on to. The track closes with a return to strong emotion, with a hint of despair.

“Barbastella”

A hauntingly beautiful vocal solo opens this track before being joined by a string orchestra that continues the theme. This dominates the first half before entering into what I could best describe as an anticipation; it’s nothing super action-y until the last 45 seconds or so. During this ending, we hear the minor third Batman theme in all its glory for the very first time, and, my, it is a wonderful moment. HE IS BATMAN.

“Artibeus”

I think that this track is intended to serve as a sort of “Scarecrow Theme”, or at least one of his attacks, with lots of agitated strings, frightening electronics, and what sounded like it could possibly have been whispers. The drums sound tribal and primeval, and the whole track kind of terrifies me…I swear I can hear people moving around in the shadows. It’s cool to see how the composers of a film can manipulate the people who watch the film with tracks like this that make them quake in their seats and – who knows? – maybe pee their pants a bit.

“Tadarida”

This track features more of the creepy whispers, and I think I even heard a few evil laughs, but I may be hearing things. More terrifying things. Lots of scary sounds. SCARECROW. And now, about 3 minutes in, we’re back to a non-scary string theme that sounds desperate. More vocals. This stuff gets heavy; it’s almost like you can feel the implications of Wayne assuming the role of Batman weighing on his shoulders; it’s a sobering feeling.

“Macrotus”

With this track, we return to the normal sort of emotional music that we heard earlier. A little past a minute into it, we’re introduced to a beautiful string melody that grows louder and louder until the brass joins in; it becomes this huge moment where we’re just flooded with emotion…and then it’s gone. Bass undertones take over, making the atmosphere of it all more brooding. We hear more hints to the Scarecrow’s music before we return to themes previously introduced in “Eptesicus” and “Barbastella”, perhaps implying that the ghosts of Bruce’s past have returned to haunt him. Appropriate since the Scarecrow’s toxin brings out your worst fears realized.

“Antrozous”

Uh-oh…another Scarecrow track. But Batman is here to fight back in a big way this time, as made apparent by the return of the action theme heard earlier in the score, but this time it is more intense, and we heard more of the Batman theme. It’s a really cool moment to hear Batman’s themes take over the intimidating Scarecrow themes. What makes this track so epic, aside from the simple rhythm that I referred to earlier, is the underlying rhythm section heard in the percussion. It drives the momentum of the action farther and farther forward.

“Nycteris”

Electronics play a large part in this track, from everything from the underlying rhythm to the first bit of the theme, though they’ve also been used frequently throughout the score. This track sits still, but I wouldn’t say it stagnates; it’s just a lapse in action. It might be Batman preparing things, like equipment, but I’m not sure. It features a lot of anticipation, much like “Barbastella”. The last 30 seconds get really emotional again, leading me to believe that it might be the theme for the relationship between Bruce and Rachel.

“Molossus”

ACTION ACTION ACTION. That’s the summary of this track. This is where Zimmer excels. We hear the main action theme that’s been thrown in a couple of times previously, but it’s more massive than it has been. The scale of it is huge, as is the scale of the crime that Batman is trying to stop; everything is aggressive, the Batman theme is thrown in several times, and it’s a nonstop ride from start to finish.

“Corynorhinus”

Pure emotion from start to finish, this track is the conclusion of the film, featuring the interaction between Bruce and Rachel at the ruins of Wayne Manor. Much of this is stuff we’ve already heard, but it’s all the more potent due to the fact that, at this point, Rachel knows Bruce’s secret and tells him that she can’t be with him until he no longer needs Batman. It’s a heartbreaking moment, and you can hear it in the music. The last minute and a half or so ends with the return of the Batman theme, which is really cool, and it also includes the melodic bit of the action theme that we heard at the very beginning.

“Lasiurus”

I sort of cheated with this one by looking it up (I’ve included the link at the bottom of this post): this track is played when Ra’s al Ghul teaches Bruce about criminals and when he looks over Gotham after taking out Falcone. Though not unimpressive, much of this track is just basic string stuff, featuring a very pretty melody filled with consequence. It ends literally exactly the way it started in the first track, which is pretty awesome, if I may say so.

OVERALL

This album succeeds because it focuses more on the human interactions of Batman rather than on the kicking-people’s-butts side of him, which could have easily been done with someone like Zimmer on board. However, everything is done very smartly…and it doesn’t hurt that there’s an awesome action theme to represent the kicking-people’s-butts side of Batman as well. This Zimmer/Newton Howard collaboration has its flaws, but the two of them move in the same new direction that Nolan does, which is refreshing and makes this a soundtrack worth purchasing. My biggest complaint is the lack of track titles that identify the music with a scene in the film, though I’m not cutting down the rating due to this. If you’re just looking for one track, though, go for “Molossus”.

Rating: 4 (out of 5)

  1. “Vespertilio”          (2:52)
  2. “Eptesicus”          (4:20)
  3. “Myotis”          (5:46)
  4. “Barbastella”          (4:45)
  5. “Artibeus”          (4:20)
  6. “Tadarida”          (5:06)
  7. “Macrotus”          (7:36)
  8. “Antrozous”          (3:59)
  9. “Nycteris”          (4:26)
  10. “Molossus”          (4:49)
  11. “Corynorhinus”          (5:04)
  12. “Lasiurus”          (7:27)

Total Length: app. 61 min.

iTunes Album Link

-Chad

If you’re interested, this link at Soundtrack.net tells you where each of these tracks can be heard in the film!

P.S. – Read my review of the film here!