As many fans and critics debate whether director Christopher Nolan‘s The Dark Knight Rises has indeed exceeded the high bar set by his previous Bat-films, few can deny that composer Hans Zimmer‘s original soundtrack and score are anything but astounding.
Much like the grand scope offered by the story and cinematography of the film, Zimmer has gone bigger, broader and bolder with his latest addition to the brooding sonic landscape of Gotham City — and beyond.
It is operatic, confounding, mystical, militaristic and ancient all in one powerhouse 51 minute display of orchestral and electronic mastery.
What is intriguing about his score is how much less athemic each of the pieces are. As opposed to the repeating variations of the Nolan Batman theme found on the previous two soundtracks, each modified for intense scenes of action or heightened emotional dialogue, this score seeks to present the personalities of the film’s complex characters through sweeping, sprawling concerto-like movements.
Themes for Selina Kyle and Bane, played respectively (and wonderfully) by actors Anne Hathaway and Tom Hardy, are clearly defined and offer insight into their characters’ psychology. To date, I have heard very few film scores that are able to capture the essence of the characters’ motivations in the way that this collection does.
Without even watching the film or knowing how these intricate archetypes interact with each other in the context of the story, Zimmer’s score seemingly tells the tale practically by itself.
And it doesn’t stop there. Adding to the epic and grandiose nature of the film’s globe-trotting set pieces and landscape, Zimmer captures the old-world aesthetic of ancient prisons, second-wave civilization fortresses and underground armies with ease.
Even those parts that do receive an intentional repetition, particularly the war zone-esque “Gotham’s Reckoning,” “The Fire Rises” and “Imagine The Fire,” all sound like continuations of the same piece rather than a simple reprise.
Zimmer said very early on that among his many influences for this score, Giuseppe Verdi‘s orchestral bombast would take center stage. Indeed, that influence is evident on these more revolutionary guard-style opuses.
At the heart of it all still stands the samples of Zimmer’s original Batman themes, which are painted with a much wider palate this time around.
However much better of a soundtrack The Dark Knight Rises OST is, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that it suffers only mildly without the inclusion of James Newton Howard taking care of the more touching compositions. Although “Mind If I Cut In?” and “Born In Darkness” sound glorious, these more sonorous pieces lack the overall quality of Howard’s “Gotham City,” or “Harvey Two-Face.”
Notwithstanding, the final song makes up for that lost element, and perfectly encapsulates all of the trilogy’s arrangements into one definitive beast of a track, “Rise.”
By far, this is the best Zimmer has to offer Nolan’s Batman omniverse, and makes his work on Batman Begins and The Dark Knight look like practice runs for this oratorical finale.
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 Fail?
12 | Death By Exile
13 | Imagine The Fire
14 | Necessary Evil
15 | Rise