The Dark Knight Rises (Hans Zimmer)

Final Musings: Zimmer’s score for the long awaited finale presents the same problematic issues of its predecessors while introducing some new ones. Consequently, much of your opinion of the score will be based on what you thought of the franchise’s sound. But with a lack of any keen sense of musician direction, little attention to thematic development and direct passages lifted from past scores, this work has very little going for it. And to top it off, its contextual merits are rather questionable. Zimmer once again leaves much of his work’s potential untapped. 

The world held its breath in anticipation of the epic conclusion to Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. Riding on the incredible success of the impressive feat that was The Dark Knight, the successful director took it upon himself to finish what he had started and write out an end for the caped crusader. Fans salivated at the reports of the grand scale of what was to be Nolan’s most ambitious project. Hollywood knew a storm was coming, one that was ready to break all sorts of records. Unfortunately, the ill-fated morning was greeted by yet another psychopathic serial killer on the scene of the Colorado showing of the film. The tragic incident notably went on to hinder the film’s opening weekend performance despite its success. And although it fared well with critics, it wasn’t quite on par with its predecessors.

Regardless, the hype generated for this film was undeniably massive, making it one of the most anticipated films of the decade. And drawn into the media frenzy is of course veteran composer Hans Zimmer. The composer has become quite the celebrity in the last couple of months, appearing in numerous interviews as a media favourite. And while Zimmer’s humorous yet modest personality is quite suitable for the limelight, the man has a tendency to make statements that are rather hard to make much sense of. To hear him speak in front of the camera about The Dark Knight Rises is truly the most sensational thing. Listeners have heard him describe the extraordinarily epic scope of the new score, the entirely unique direction the music has taken and the revolutionary genius of his work. Even the harshest of Zimmer’s critics found themselves on the edge of their seats in curiosity for what he had in store for the world. But alas, living up to his reputation of gross exaggeration and false promises, Zimmer continues to be more talk than show. As discussed further in this review, the final product unsurprisingly brings the fictitious nature of his bloated claims to light. Read the rest of this entry »


Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (Hans Zimmer)

Final Musings: Hans Zimmer delivers yet another disappointment. The themes are anonymous in nature, the mixing is downright awful and the album is a hazardous listening experience. However, the action music can be enjoyable for some and there is a sense of genuine spirit in the Romanian music that shows that Zimmer had fun creating this score. Unfortunately, the score ends up being less a score and more of a compilation of ‘jamming sessions’. Fans looking towards Zimmer’s return to his better works will leave this album, severely disappointed.

Guy Ritchie’s entertaining (and some devotees of Arthur Conan Doyle might say blasphemous) adaption of the universally known stories of Sherlock Holmes fared surprisingly well, especially against the box office titan that was Avatar. With the stellar pairing of Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law eager for more, and the great revenues, it wasn’t surprising to see studios push for a sequel. This new film, Game of Shadows (Shadows, not Thrones ;)) is largely based off of Conan Doyle’s The Final Problem in which we are introduced to Holmes’ equal and greatest rival, Professor James Moriarty. While disappointment is the usual routine with sequels, critics found the film to be surprisingly entertaining, or as Roger Ebert likes to put it, “high caliber entertainment”.  I’m not sure if he would say the same for the score.

Returning with the crew for the sequel is Hans Zimmer. Zimmer has been quite busy with assignments this year as is expected of one of the most sought after composers in Hollywood. While the composer has occasionally proven himself worthy of his prominence with some of his great work, the man’s recent work has been rather disappointing. If one were to look specifically at this case, it would require a look over the shoulder to the first film. With Sherlock Holmes, Zimmer surprised many of his critics with some of his most humorously fresh and comically engaging material in quite a while (especially at a time where his predictable style became tiring). While the main theme may herald back to Jack Sparrow’s quirkiness and several of the composers trademark “Zimmerisms” are apparent in the score, rarely has he packaged them in such a way. Saturated in eclectic Celtic and gypsy tones (much like an Irish pub), the score was an incredibly entertaining and refreshing experience for fans who were tired of Zimmer’s more predictable side. Back in 2009, Zimmer was still going strong with great scores like the blood-pumping Angels and Demons and the more intelligently stimulating score for the drama, Frost/Nixon. Yet after the composer’s success with his bland score for 2010’s Inception, the composer has rarely failed to disappoint with horrible album releases for Rango and half ass efforts for On Strangers’ Tide (can’t forget the excruciatingly painful remixes of latter, can we?). Yet to the few Zimmer fans clinging on to the hope that Zimmer will prove  his critics wrong, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows seemed like the ideal opportunity. One could argue that a good deal of hype was built towards this score. Considering how the Celtic flavor and the gypsy tones really worked to the previous score’s favour, you can imagine the expectations set with this score. And Zimmer’s trip to Slovakia for further research and inspiration for the gypsy music certainly helped maintain the hype (but that’s what these publicity stunts tend to do). People will probably approach the score expecting the refreshing, creative, undeniably fun experience that was the first score. Unfortunately, this will most definitely not be the case with this score. Read the rest of this entry »