Tag Archives: Zimmerweek

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!

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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!


Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011) – Hans Zimmer

This was one of the few soundtracks that I didn’t buy on my own, waiting instead to receive it as a gift. Why? Because, after Zimmer’s score to At World’s End, I didn’t think that it would be good. Christmas rolled around, I got it, and I listened to it…and guess what? I was pleasantly surprised.

The best part of this album is the addition of Mexican guitar duo Rodrigo y Gabriela. Their flamenco guitars add a wonderful Spanish influence to the whole album, giving a new spin on some classic themes. “Angelica” is a blend of the duo with some Zimmer orchestration; it’s infectious and fun and manages to be one of the more original themes heard in Pirates of the Caribbean since Dead Man’s Chest. “The Pirate That Should Not Be” features the duo alone, and it’s fantastic, with both conventional and non-conventional guitar techniques adding uniquely to the mix.

Even Zimmer brings some new stuff to the table. “Blackbeard” contains some familiar themes but is on the whole pretty original, with lots of dark, brooding stuff and an almost march-like ending reminiscent of war, and even “Palm Tree Escape” is worthy of being called one of the better tracks of the franchise.

Unfortunately, not everything on this album is new and original. “Mermaids”, which I first thought was really cool – also, it features choral work done especially for the film by composer Eric Whitacre – before realizing that I had heard it before…in the FIRST Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Compare “Mermaids” to this brief moment in Klaus Badelt’s “Fog Bound”. Yes, it’s brief, and, it may even be intentional, but still. Aw, heck, I’ll go ahead and say it’s intentional. Zimmer is smart.

So, yes, there are some moments when you’ll be thinking “this is just the same ol’, same ol’ Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack!”, but it’s worth it solely for the Rodrigo y Gabriela features and to hear some of the classic themes done on flamenco guitar. Also, seven of the eighteen tracks are remixes, and guess what? Those were a pleasant surprise too…I enjoy most of them. Overall, this is a fairly good film score with lots to like and less to hate. A good purchase.

Rating: 4 (out of 5)

1. “Guilty of Being Innocent of Being Jack Sparrow”  1:42
2. “Angelica” (Feat. Rodrigo y Gabriela)  4:17
3. “Mutiny”  2:48
4. “The Pirate That Should Not Be” (by Rodrigo y Gabriela)  3:55
5. “Mermaids”  8:05
6. “South of Heaven’s Chanting Mermaids” (feat. Rodrigo y Gabriela)  5:48
7. “Palm Tree Escape” (by Rodrigo y Gabriela)  3:06
8. “Blackbeard”  5:05
9. “Angry and Dead Again” (by Rodrigo y Gabriela)  5:33
10. “On Stranger Tides”  2:44
11. “End Credits”  1:59
12. “Guilty of Being Innocent of Being Jack Sparrow” (Remixed by DJ Earworm)  2:45
13. “Angelica (Grant Us Peace Remix)” (Remixed by Ki: Theory)  3:08
14. “The Pirate That Should Not Be” (Remixed by Photek)  6:26
15. “Blackbeard” (Remixed by Super Mash Bros & Thieves)  5:26
16. “South of Heaven’s Chanting Mermaids” (Remixed by Paper Diamond)  3:32
17. “Palm Tree Escape” (Remixed by Adam Freeland)  5:28
18. “Angry and Dead Again” (Remixed by Static Revenger)  5:49

Total Length: app. 78 min.

iTunes Album Link

-Chad


Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (2007) – Hans Zimmer

I’ll be straightforward: on the whole, I’m not a huge fan of this score. Dead Man’s Chest set a VERY high standard as far as Zimmer’s Pirates of the Caribbean scores go, and At World’s End simply falls short of the mark.

The opening track, “Hoist the Colours”, acts as a sort of anthem for the film, but, aside from that, its only purpose is to exist so that it can be used at later points in the score, such as in “What Shall We Die For”. Most of the tracks are just re-hashes of stuff we already heard in Dead Man’s Chest, so the overall feel of the score is pretty bland. And “Multiple Jacks” is just weird.

That’s not to say that there isn’t some good to be found, though. “Up is Down” is one of my favorite tracks from all four Pirates of the Caribbean films (the awesome French horn rips help with that). Additionally, “Parlay” is super cool because it’s a direct reference to a track by renowned composer Ennio Morricone from the score to Once Upon a Time in the West; compare “Parlay” to “Man with a Harmonica” from the Morricone score. Cool, eh? Lastly, the track “I Don’t Think Now is the Best Time”, despite being mostly comprised of re-used material from the second film’s score, is exciting and acts as an almost suite-like track that combines just about every single theme from the trilogy so far.

Other than that, there’s not much to look forward to listening to. Sure, it’s enjoyable, but that doesn’t matter for much to me if it’s not new and different. Like I said, Zimmer set the bar for himself when he composed such an incredible score for Dead Man’s Chest. If you’re looking for just one Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack to buy, get the second one.

Rating: 2.5 (out of 5)

  1. “Hoist the Colours”          (1:31)
  2. “Singapore”          (3:41)
  3. “At Wit’s End”          (8:06)
  4. “Multiple Jacks”          (3:52)
  5. “Up is Down”          (2:42)
  6. “I See Dead People in Boats”          (7:09)
  7. “The Brethren Court”          (2:21)
  8. “Parlay”          (2:10)
  9. “Calypso”          (3:03)
  10. “What Shall We Die For”          (2:03)
  11. “I Don’t Think Now is the Best Time”           (10:46)
  12. “One Day”          (4:02)
  13. “Drink Up Me Hearties”          (4:32)

Total Length: app. 56 min.

iTunes Album Link

-Chad


Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006) – Hans Zimmer

Zimmer Week continues!

Hans Zimmer takes the reins from Klaus Badelt in composing the score for the second film of the Pirates of the Caribbean film series, Dead Man’s Chest.

Every single track on this album is outstanding…something I don’t usually say about a Hans Zimmer score, but it’s well-deserved in this instance. The opening track, “Jack Sparrow”, is fitting for the Johnny Depp character, with a drunken cello solo taking up the first minute and a half before it shakes off its stupor and takes off into a swashbuckling, adventurous pirate theme – something that Mr. Zimmer certainly seems to have a knack for.

Perhaps the best thing that this album has to offer is the use of the organ. While it may seem a bit strange to use an instrument like an organ so liberally in a film score, Zimmer puts it to good use. In “The Kraken”, we hear a brooding bass line that is almost reminiscent of John Williams’ theme to Jaws; it takes its own slow pace before building into a full orchestra playing just about as loud as it can, which then dwindles back down to a simple, haunting organ line. The rest of the track simulates the kraken’s hunting of its victims and their impending doom. It’s a terrific backdrop for such a terrifying creature.

The organ also features pretty heavily in “Davy Jones”. The opening of this track is very ethereal and music-box like, showing the more tender side of the character that the track is named for. However, this doesn’t last long before the organ takes over and turns the innocent theme into the inner turmoil that Jones feels inside. It ends the way it starts, but the theme is now slower…almost heartbreaking.

Other standout tracks on this album include “Dinner is Served”, which is aggressive and tribal before transitioning into a waltz that sounds more delightful than the part of the film it is featured in. The joke is, I think, that the swinging cages are meant to represent trapeze artists, an image that the music fits fairly well. “Two Hornpipes (Tortuga)” is raucous and fun, while “Wheel of Fortune” could be used as the definition for “adventure”.

I could go on naming tracks that I love, but let’s face it: I’ve already mentioned more than half of them. If you couldn’t tell, Dead Man’s Chest is my absolute favorite Hans Zimmer score, so go and give it a listen. Every single track on this album is fantastic…minus the DJ Tiësto remix of “He’s a Pirate” from the first film, but it doesn’t count.. Though I’m giving it the same rating, know this: this film’s score is better than Inception‘s. Enjoy!

Rating: 5 (out of 5)

  1. “Jack Sparrow” (6:06)
  2. “The Kraken” (6:55)
  3. “Davy Jones” (3:15)
  4. “I’ve Got My Eye on You” (2:25)
  5. “Dinner is Served” (1:30)
  6. “Tia Dalma” (3:57)
  7. “Two Hornpipes (Tortuga)” (1:14)
  8. “A Family Affair” (3:34)
  9. “Wheel of Fortune” (6:45)
  10. “You Look Good Jack” (5:34)
  11. “Hello Beastie” (10:15)
  12. He’s a Pirate (DJ Tiësto Remix) (7:03)

Total Length: app. 52 min.

iTunes Album Link

-Chad