THE DARK KNIGHT
Music composed by Hans Zimmer, James Newton Howard
Label: Warner Bros. Records
Catalog:
WEA 298812

Year: 2008
Tracks:

1. Why So Serious?
2. I'm Not a Hero
3. Harvey Two-Face
4. Aggressive Expansion
5. Always a Catch
6. Blood on My Hands
7. A Little Push
8. Like a Dog Chasing Cars
9. I am the Batman
10. And I Thought My Jokes Were Bad
11. Agent of Chaos
12. Introduce a Little Anarchy
13. Watch the World Burn
14. A Dark Knight

Total Time: 73:24
Rating:


Reviewed by
Tom Hoover

 
Eagerly anticipated by many, Warner Bros. Records does not disappoint with the soundtrack release of, The Dark Knight. The soundtrack was made available in both standard and special edition formats, the latter providing additional notes, photos and enhanced packaging but not additional music from the film. It's a sleek release that many Batman fans will relish. More impressive, however, is the manner in which the soundtrack was rolled out to the fans. Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard were on hand in both New York and Los Angeles (on consecutive days) to meet the fans and sign their copies of The Dark Knight soundtrack. It was a really nice promotion that provided the listeners a rare opportunity to meet these dynamic composers.

Hoopla aside, how was the music? Well, the work done by Zimmer and Howard in this series has sparked a great divide amongst listeners, primarily in the 'love it' or 'hate it camps.' I land squarely in the middle of this dividing line;
The Dark Knight is an effective, and at times impressive, score.

The most noteworthy updates to the music of the series involve the themes for the new villains, The Joker and Two-Face. Hans took on the duties for writing the Joker's music while James took on the theme for Two Face. Hans was able to come up with a sound that represents the Joker's insanity through series of unusual, gliding notes that felt unsettling yet strangely melodic. James' Two-Face theme is a bit more classically developed and is befitting the character of Harvey Dent and his future self. Indeed, Dent's theme felt a bit more tragic. While the two themes were written separately, there is no deviation from the consistent sound design of the score. In all, I felt the music that represents these characters hit the mark, and to the composing team's credit, wasn't overused.

As far as the Dark Knight himself, his themes are cloaked within the fabric of the score, much like
Batman Begins. To that end, there are similar notes carried out from that of the first film, but with this installment, there is a bit more of a heroic edge to it. The composers stayed on course in developing a non-traditional superhero score in this regard but the melodies were tweaked up ever so slightly to represent Gotham's hero. I found this to be a welcome development since I felt that a bit of a heroic melody was absent from the first movie.

The action music from this score is terrific. When the driving rhythms are blended with the Joker's theme, it offers a nice extension of the material and delivers this score more of an identity than the previous venture. The shadowy textures of the percussion and electronics also present a nice build up to some of the peak moments, such as tracks 8 and 12, where the action cues sear to life during the film's more explosive sequences.

One odd entry on this soundtrack is the final track, "A Dark Knight," which at a running time of over 16 minutes is ironically the weakest track on the disc. In my opinion, this cue becomes a bit too repetitive given the running time of the track and the album might have been better served has this one been edited down to a 5 minute cue.

In all,
The Dark Knight is a firm improvement over the first album. While the two scores are consistent, this entry takes the material up a notch with the inclusion of the new themes, variations on existing motifs and heroic references that offer a subtle, positive tilt. While I can appreciate that some listeners may find that the two "Batman" scores mirror each other a bit too closely, I say take another listen and embrace this album as the representative score of the franchise.

The music from
The Dark Knight is controversial, modern and intense. It's also very well done. Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard have teamed up to bring us an exciting, improved take on the Batman saga and it's an album that should be given an honest listen. For more info about the album, visit Warner's www.TheDarkKnightScore.com.

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