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The Dark Knight Rises by Hans Zimmer (Review)

posted Jul 24, 2012, 10:13 PM by Kaya Savas   [ updated Jul 26, 2012, 11:03 AM ]

Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard reinvented one of the most popular superheros of all time. Their score was so iconic and so defining that it shaped actions scores for years to come. They changed how superhero films were scored and almost every movie in Hollywood was temp tracked with their music. Hans Zimmer and Christopher Nolan built an amazingly perfect world for Inception. So much so that James Newton Howard didn't want to get in the way of their partnership and bowed out of the final chapter with no hard feelings. Zimmer tackled this beast solo after crafting what is one of the most iconic villain motifs in the Joker's one-note theme. For The Dark Knight Rises we get to experience the most visceral, intense and primal score Hans Zimmer has ever composed. There is nothing sweet and sensible about this. In pure Holst fashion he lays on the intensity thick and never lets up. The reason this review is late is because for the first time in my life I consciously decided to wait and hear one of Hans Zimmer's scores for the first time with the film and not on CD. The CD looked at me and mocked me on my desk for weeks. I almost buckled, but I'm glad I didn't. The score is a snowball that grows and grows until the final act when it steamrolls you into an emotional wreck. Pure fire burns within the sounds of this supremely aggressive listening experiences that is without a doubt one of Zimmer's finest accomplishments as a composer.

Deh-Shay Deh-Shay Bah-Sah-Rah! This is the chant that echoes throughout the film and is the "rising" motif. It may begin as Bane's thematic stamp but eventually evolves into a major motif for Bruce. I think the mass labeling of "Bane's Chant" or "Bane's Theme" is misleading. Hans compiled thousands of voices from fans all over the world to make this chant. Do you think thousands of people would be chanting for Bane to rise? No, we're chanting for Batman to rise and the way that motif is used in the film supports that. The score itself rarely touches back on its roots from the first two. Hans of course brings Batman's theme and boy when you first hear it in the film it raises hairs on the back of your neck. The score overall is extremely primal and percussion prevails in the soundscape. When the score gets loud it does get loud and I would safely bet this is the loudest mixed score I've ever heard in a film. If you thought Inception was loud then you're in for a surprise. It broods and bubbles as tension rises and when it finally breaks it has the power to melt your soul and then inject it with adrenaline. This is the most brilliantly executed action score I've ever heard and in that regard it's pure perfection. I found my heart rate increasing from just listening to the score again after seeing the movie, it has that much power over you. It infuses itself within you and when it rises so do you. Bane's character doesn't necessarily have a theme that the Joker had as Hans is more or less scoring our hero's struggle from the depth's. Selina Kyle's theme is one motif that manages to stand on its own and it's very well played. He does humanize the villain though and we actually feel empathy for Bane in the film. The brilliant part is that this score would be as perfect as it is even if the first two films never existed. It has that kind of standalone power. But since the first two films do exists it also serves as the last piece in the puzzle as the arc comes full circle. The ending is so emotional that Nolan just lets the music play in the film. Hans incorporates a lone boy vocal that is so simple, but so brilliantly touches on Bruce Wayne's character that when you make the connection in the final moments it can be overwhelming. The final track "Rise" closes everything out in brilliant fashion.

The Dark Knight Rises is a charged adrenaline rush that will make you feel like you're running for your life while your knees are about to buckle from being emotionally drained. This is an exhaustingly thrilling experience that will stand the test of time as a benchmark in action scoring. Hans Zimmer didn't just give us the best superhero score of all time, but the best action score of all time. The sound of this film will be copied for years in the same way The Dark Knight and Inception were. This score has defined the genre once again and has given us a rich character journey from Bruce's childhood to his journey's end. In sound Hans was able to capture terror, fear, shock, pain, yearning and the desire to overcome. The desire to rise. This score is perfect. From the rumblings I've been hearing though this shouldn't be the only release of this score. If I were you I'd bet on more coming real soon.