Hans Zimmer – The Dark Knight Rises *Review In English*

“Hans Zimmer seems to have topped up his bombastic part greatly but I can’t help feeling that there is something missing as James Newton Howard is not on his duty.”

Soundtrack Label: Water Tower Music

THE DARK KNIGHT RISES is the final chapter of Christopher Nolan’s Batman series. The story takes place 8 years after the event of THE DARK KNIGHT where Harvey Dent Act is passed and all big criminals in Gotham are sent to prison for good. Batman, who is consequently branded as Dent’s murderer (oh man… they should have blamed Joker for this), is no longer needed. But after the appearance of Bane, a new terrorist leader with a threat to burn Gotham to ashes, Batman has to be back in action. Hans Zimmer is also back to compose the music but, as you see either on the poster or soundtrack cover, he is alone on this (but with his Remote Control Productions’ team as usual).

For me, it’s sad not to see James Newton Howard having any participation on such a big project like this. I remember that I have tried surfing the internet for some information that can answer my curiosity of his decision, the information that is not only about his tight schedule owing to THE HUNGER GAMES and SNOW WHITE & THE HUNTSMAN, and here is the thing. According to many sources, they all come to the fact that Howard doesn’t want to interfere the relationship between Zimmer and director Nolan since their great work on last year’s INCEPTION. So, committedly, Howard is convinced that Zimmer is going to be fine working on THE DARK KNIGHT RISES without him.

I have to admit that the dynamics between the duo composers is what makes the previous scores work. Although BATMAN BEGINS is likely called the unconscious start with too abrasive noise and a very simplistic two-note theme (and if you compare it to the one by either Danny Elfman or Elliot Goldenthal will even make it look worse), everything gets together in THE DARK KNIGHT where two strong character themes are additionally installed to counter with its poorly original theme and the soundscape also provides more enjoyable listening experience in general. As for THE DARK KNIGHT RISES, Hans Zimmer seems to have topped up his bombastic part greatly but I can’t help feeling that there is something missing as James Newton Howard is not on his duty. Accordingly, this is a case of something rises and something falls. And it’s such an unfortunate that the album presentation on physical CD is also somewhat lacking, due to the complicated “bonus track” marketing. Therefore, in addition to make the situation look a bit better, The CD bonus tracks except the unnecessary Bombers Over Ibiza (Junkie XL Remix) will be included in my review as they are the best of all bonus tracks. For the iTunes and MovieTickets.com tracks, they are just the endless rearrangements that barely add any satisfaction to the already incomplete album.

To begin with, the rising part is the new central theme consisting of Deshi Basara chant (which means “he rises” as you might have known). This new theme, which reflects Bane’s revolt and later the rise of Batman (it’s evenly matched in content though), makes its impressive introduction in Gotham’s Reckoning as an effectively stunning march highlighted by percussion, brass, and choir. This theme is thereafter used mostly on the ominous as well as the action area of the score but only the latter area that Zimmer can expand his existing idea and deliver some triumphant moments, not a slack bass ostinato with only a few extra like Underground Army.

The Fire Rises, Imagine the Fire, and the bonus track No Stone Unturned respond to that awesomeness and they are possibly the most explosive cues Zimmer has written lately. Even though the two-note theme sounds like a constraint as usual, the action sequences are sufficiently enjoyable. Out of the bombardment, there are also a dramatic cue like Why Do We Fall? whose crescendo steadily rises above the title.

Then, the fall of the score is the supplement in emotional level which Zimmer can’t outdo James Newton Howard as expected. At the beginning of the album, it is interesting to hear Zimmer introduces us the atmospheric On Thin Ice which nicely embraces the sense of dark and cold night in the city. But as the score moves forward, this supplement seems to lose its balance and be more like filler tracks with an excuse of using old materials from BATMAN BEGINS and THE DARK KNIGHT unchangeably. However, the conclusive track Rise can eventually nail the point of being emotional and makes a worthy compensation as it should be. The track has a mesmerizing use of boy soprano solo derived from BATMAN BEGINS’ Marcrotus which gradually fades into something from Lasiurus but way more stunning before the familiar powerful crescendo is inserted and the track ends with a short reprise of On Thin Ice once again.

Another fall is Catwoman’s theme despite the fact that it sounds so potential. Mind if I Cut In? is actually a mysterious and seductive track that fits the character perfectly. I love the theme but it unfortunately doesn’t get enough development throughout the album. Its small role in the second half of Fear Will Find You and the bonus track Risen From Darkness are just forgettable at best.

As everything doesn’t seem to reach my (high) expectation, I am then informed about the late release called “The Dark Knight Rises Z+ Apple App Exclusive” which contains 4 exceptional tracks that make me hate the stupid marketing of this score even more. Wayne Manor and Bane are two grand suites representing Bruce Wayne/Batman with more feeling as well as the action and Bane with expansive variations on the chanting theme respectively. These long tracks easily satisfy those (including myself) who are eager to hear some wonderful composition like The Dark Knight from the prior score. Then, Orphan sounds like the alternate version of Rise without first-minute action burst and soprano. It is by far the weakest add-on here but still sentimental on some level. The last and the worthiest track is Selina Kyle which serves more sound of Catwoman’s theme. This track is so alluring, mystic, and thrilling that I can now say the development on her theme is rightly fulfilled.

In conclusion, THE DARK KNIGHT RISES delivers a darkly epic listening experience as the premise, though I insist that I prefer the dynamic sound of Zimmer and Howard together as in THE DARK KNIGHT which still grows on me this day (except its horrible bonus CD). Moreover, the way this score is treated on its CD release is so ugly that it makes the situation with Alan Silvestri’ CAPTAIN AMERICA look better (but what’s wrong with the business today anyway).


01. A Storm is Coming (***)

02. On Thin Ice (****)

03. Gotham’s Reckoning (*****)

04. Mind if I Cut In? (*****)

05. Underground Army (***)

06. Born in Darkness (***)

07. The Fire Rises (*****)

08. Nothing Out There (****)

09. Despair (***)

10. Fear Will Find You (****)

11. Why Do We Fall? (*****)

12. Death By Exile (**)

13. Imagine the Fire (*****)

14. Necessary Evil (***)

15. Rise (*****)

CD Bonus Tracks:
Bombers Over Ibiza (Junkie XL Remix)
No Stone Unturned
Risen from Darkness

iTunes Bonus Tracks:
Bombers Over Ibiza (Junkie XL Remix)
The Shadows Betray You
The End

MovieTickets.com Exclusive Track:
All Out War

The Dark Knight Rises Z+ Apple App Exclusive Tracks

– Wayne Manor

– Bane

– Orphan

– Selina Kyle

Grade for Physical CD Release: B-

Grade including CD Bonus Tracks (No Remix): B

Grade including CD Bonus Tracks (No Remix) & Apple App Exclusive Tracks: B+

Buy It @Boomerang


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