Review Summary: A necessary evil with an unfortunate soundtrack.
having illuminated Hans Zimmer’s style more so than any other film he’s worked on, the effects of a stronger relationship between him and Christopher Nolan just aren’t found anywhere in the music of The Dark Knight Rises
. The solidification of this bond was the reason for the departure of James Newton Howard from the team, citing the reluctance of becoming a “third wheel”. Granted, Newton Howard acted, for the most part, as a compositional accessory during Batman Begins
and The Dark Knight
, composing mainly the music for all the non-action sequences and filling the gaps of Hans Zimmer’s metallic driving rhythms. His input however produced scores, which despite their drab linings, became fairly dynamic and agreeable affairs. For this final chapter, Zimmer, now left primarily to his own devices, offers a set of familiar cues (some good, some bad) next to a few questionable new ones; think the serious stridence of Crimson Tide
meeting Pirates of the Caribbean’s
rollicking impetus and we’re left with an hour or so of material that’s just as easily devoured elsewhere, and in many instances in a better, shinier shell.
Here, Catwoman’s brazenly barren and cheeky piano (“Mind If I Cut In"”) and Bane’s uncharacteristic uninspired mess of chants and hammer-drill rhythms (“Gotham’s Reckoning”) form part of the new substance, both of which are incredibly lacklustre pieces of music. On the other hand, Batman’s drawn-out two note brass theme (found shining in brightly “Despair” and “The Fire Rises”), surpasses all because it imparts (and always has) the initiative of freedom from restraint, whether it’s simply the defiance of gravity or escaping a prison-in-a-well somewhere in the desert. Hearing this bares great connotations to us as audience members; but both Bane and Catwoman, who are equally as important to most of the story, need their own something
to embody their eccentricities further than just musical clichés. Catwoman isn’t just a dimensionless sexed up thief; Anne Hathaway showed a more faint embroiled humanity to her character. Tom Hardy as Bane too is a forceful entity, expressing ruffled emotion beyond the restraint of his breathing apparatus, even more so than Batman’s questionably grim temperament. Together the music of Bane and Catwoman just doesn't equate to their significance as characters, becoming what can only be described as “Muzak” for the cinema.
Indeed, not all here is the tasteless wheels of a lack of inspiration at work. Outside the cinema the disc itself opens with “On Thin Ice”, which upon hearing it in its solitary distance with female choir and synth, produces emotions of beauty and anxiety&this is quickly converted into reverence as it begins to take shape with Zimmer’s now iconic use of the cello. The electronic bubbling bass in “Underground Army” is essentially Batman’s theme, churned into what can best be described as “The Kraken [Bruce Wayne Remix]”; it’s equally enjoyable as the previous example, but probably for all the wrong reasons: the stolen melody from The Kraken pokes its head again in “Imagine the Fire” showing that perhaps Zimmer lost insight along the way somewhere. What rapidly comes to assurance with all this is that like most of Zimmer’s scores, there are moments to be enjoyed, but there are also too many places of uncertainty surrounding the momentum and overall design of the work. Just as the films pacing comes into question, so too does the musical haphazardness of Zimmer’s seemingly unfinished exertion.
The shame is that when given an opportunity to excel, Zimmer frequently doesn’t, opting to reuse designs from elsewhere without batting an eyelid. He’s becoming, if not already become, the Michael Bay of film score&the go-to for Hollywood, to make music an audience can simply munch popcorn to&only because in most instances his name is worth more than his regularly unapparent skills. The grandiose vision for Batman was ambitious and well executed, visually, cinematically and conceptually. We sadly can’t say the same for most of its music&The Dark Knight Rises
marks as being the worst of the three in this regard.