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Batman Forever
1995 Atlantic

2012 La-La Land

Composed and Co-Orchestrated by:
Elliot Goldenthal

Co-Conducted by:
Jonathan Sheffer

Co-Orchestrated and Co-Conducted by:
Shirley Walker

Co-Orchestrated by:
Robert Elhai
David John Olsen
Michael McCuistion
Lolita Ritmanis
Randy Kerber

Produced by:
Matthias Gohl
Richard Martinez

Labels and Dates:
Atlantic Records
(July 11th, 1995)

La-La Land Records
(January 3rd, 2012)

Also See:
Batman Returns
Batman & Robin
Batman Begins
The Dark Knight

Audio Clips:
1995 Album:

3. The Perils of Gotham (0:30):
WMA (197K)  MP3 (242K)
Real Audio (150K)

6. Nygma Variations (0:30):
WMA (197K)  MP3 (242K)
Real Audio (150K)

7. Victoria (0:31):
WMA (202K)  MP3 (250K)
Real Audio (155K)

13. Mr. E's Dance Card (0:28):
WMA (186K)  MP3 (227K)
Real Audio (141K)

The 1995 Atlantic album was a regular U.S. release. The 2012 La-La Land album is limited to 3,500 copies and initially retailed for $30 primarily through soundtrack specialty outlets.

  Nominated for a Grammy Award.

Batman Forever
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Used Price: $29.75

Sales Rank: 181488

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Buy it... if you're open-minded about the wildly flashy direction that the franchise took with this film and generally appreciate Elliot Goldenthal's extremely intelligent capabilities, even if he badly overplays the comical aspect of this concept in the process.

Avoid it... if you expect Goldenthal to have taken the franchise as seriously as Danny Elfman had, because Batman Forever is an occasionally insufferable carnival ride of wildly inconsistent musical personalities at war.

Batman Forever: (Elliot Goldenthal) The tables were turned on the Batman franchise in 1995, when Tim Burton declined to direct a third film in the series for Warner Brothers and criticism still poured in about the lack of cohesion in Batman Returns. The original Batman of 1989 had been constructed with such a classic formula, pure in its brooding styles and stark coloration, that the more ambitious and broadly conceived Batman Returns ultimately became a major letdown. Warner, however, decided to proceed with the franchise, not by correcting that situation but instead hiring director Joel Schumacher to solve the problem by taking the franchise further down a path to despair, one target at younger audiences that would meet a laughable end with Batman & Robin within a few years. Schumacher's solution was to make the films more consistent with the original comics' tones and their outrageously silly villains. Gone was the bleak darkness of Burton's creation and infused were vivid colors, streaks of lights, and a carnival atmosphere that would spike the film's visuals to an almost intolerable level. The most considerable reason for the artistic downfall of Batman Forever was the fact that the series, in this and the fourth film, failed to continue taking itself seriously. By turning away from the gothic gloom of Burton's original adaptation and instead pandering to pop-culture references in both the scripts and greater design elements, the franchise bordered on becoming a parody of its former self at times. This error would be corrected in the resurrection of the franchise by Christopher Nolan in the 2000's, though. Composer Danny Elfman, who saw the situation with Batman Forever coming, declined to continue down this road and left for other projects. Elfman's Batman theme had quickly become one of the most easily recognizable in recent cinema (and his entire score for the first film is often deemed an early classic of the Digital Age of film music), and whether or not you appreciated his interpretations of the Batman theme and its brooding attitude in Batman Returns, his sequel score remained consistent in its basic feel even though it lacked the same power of performance. Replacing Elfman for Batman Forever, and contending with frantic deadlines and the re-emergence of pop music in the series, was an equally stylistic, rising composer, Elliot Goldenthal.

As per the instructions of the filmmakers, Elfman's iconic theme was dropped from the equation in Batman Forever. Still, given that Goldenthal, like Elfman, had shown an interest in exploring bizarre mutations of orchestral instrumentation and rhythm, there was hope that there would be only a minor change in the style of the franchise's music at this juncture. Goldenthal had been known for his dark and morbid works himself, and as a logical choice for the continuation of the franchise, he fit into the project with ease. Unfortunately, Goldenthal, in both his two scores for this series of films, fell into the same trap as Schumacher, striving for such outlandishly creative deviations in the musical style of his contribution that his output is outstanding in parts but intolerable in others, the entirety failing to take the concept very seriously. To his credit, Goldenthal took one action in his score for Batman Forever that was very admirable; he constructed a primary theme that was more complex in progression than Elfman's title identity, but he finishes it with the same heroic, minor-to-major key descent that Elfman had so famously used. Thus, for the average movie-goer, the themes may sound similar enough in basic flow to pass as the same, even if Goldenthal's theme wanders quite a bit in the process of getting to the integral progression at the end. Seemingly intent upon inserting this two-note shift consistently throughout his score, Goldenthal adapts the Elfman progression so often that it ceases being a subtle application and borders on irritation. With that chord progression repeating in the jazzy, electronic, circus, and action motifs throughout the score, Goldenthal's use of that adaptation is tiresome by the film's conclusion. By the last twenty seconds of "Batterdammerung," it's hard not to get the point. Aside from that nod to Elfman's theme into Batman Forever (intentionally or otherwise) and the utter brilliance of some of the genre-bending constructs on display, there is really little positive to say about Goldenthal's effect on the film. There are sequences of ballsy, snare-ripping and brass-blaring action material (such as "Main Titles & Fanfare," "Fledermausmarschmusik", and "Victory") that are satisfyingly muscular while maintaining some of Goldenthal's avant garde flair. Some of the mid-score fanfares are tonally magnificent. The muted trumpet and piano duet for a noir effect as a standard love theme is also admirable. When these two musical identities flirt together in conversational scenes, Goldenthal succeeds.

Outside of the primary identities, however, the rest of the score for Batman Forever is a schizophrenic carnival of noise, shifting from one bizarre collection of motifs, rhythms, and instruments to another with no regard for consistency or a powerfully consistent foundation. Negative critiques of the composer's Interview with a Vampire will state that the problems were foreshadowed in that score, and correctly so. There is fascinating intelligence in the many interweaving constructs heard here, but together they are too complicated for their own good in this concept. The wildly shifting personality of Batman Forever's music (both on screen and album) reaches an all-time low with the insufferable female voice and theremin effects representing the Riddler and his real life identity. Equally obnoxious are the tirelessly pounded phrases within the stomping theme for Two-Face. When combining forces, their identities (and those associated with their henchmen) wildly ramble off into other genres of music, using rhythmic devices from innumerous sources to punctuate their strangeness. Out of this over-the-top personality develops a ridiculous theme for the Riddler's Claw Island at the end of the film that puts the exclamation point on this issue. Earlier, when the title character is pursued around Gotham by Two-Face's thugs, Goldenthal unleashes one of the worst chase motifs ever to be recorded for film, making a mockery out of the concept in all instances. The literal circus atmosphere on screen is afforded a similarly bloated musical persona, diminishing the melodic appeal of the genesis theme for Robin. By allowing his music to become a staggering mess of jumbled styles, Goldenthal completely deflates the Batman character, with only the occasional reminders of the main fanfare saving the concept from dissolving into total mediocrity. Not evocative enough to save the score is Goldenthal's tormented idea for Bruce Wayne, its application to similar tragedies in the past only basically serving to connect the Wayne and Robin characters. At least these passages, along with the fleeting and seemingly underdeveloped noir theme for Chase, the love interest, do provide some tonal relief in small doses even if they toil in relative anonymity. For some casual listeners, the overall flow of the music will be so fragmented in personality that it will seem like unorganized noise. At every turn, there's a different sound, a reinvention of the score's attitude and instrumentation. It is creative to a fault, forced to follow the wild changes of color and flash in the film instead of maintaining any badly needed sense of coherency.

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Goldenthal was unleashed by Schumacher with the instruction of writing something "brilliant," and although the technicality of the composition indeed is that inspired, its actual application became just one symptom of the film's larger problems. It is difficult to say if the failure of Goldenthal's score is entirely due to the film's crazed pacing (and thus the script) or if the blame rests to a degree on Goldenthal's shifty variations from cue to cue. Certainly, Batman Forever as a film is horrid and that is partly responsible, but Goldenthal also uses several bright techniques that are hardly listenable. First and foremost, he again kills the brass section with his whining trills and pitch-wavering effects, a technique he employed in other scores at the time, and it nearly ruins "The Perils of Gotham," among other cues. Second, his use of electronics for Robin's attitude is overbearing and equally thrashing, lacking sophistication in nearly every instance. Some of the carnival-like cues for the Riddler and Two-Face need a wired listener just to be tolerated (the aforementioned, painful "Gotham City Boogie" should be used to interrogate enemy combatants), and they do a great injustice to Goldenthal's slightly more consistent and enjoyable romantic, film noir material. No amount of editing of this score onto album could yield a sense of continuity, especially with the severe rearrangement that Goldenthal had to make for the original commercial product of 1995. When La-La Land Records released almost all of Goldenthal's two hours of material in 2012, the composer once again arranged the music out of chronological order, but at least the narrative is still somewhat intact. The fuller presentation allows the listener to fully appreciate how intelligent his music can be, even if misguided. It's a very laborious listening experience at that length, however, and when combined with the included 1995 album presentation, the 2-CD set can only be recommended to those who have already proven able to digest this score in smaller bites. In the end, Goldenthal thankfully did his best to incorporate the spirit of Elfman's Batman theme without simple restatement, but he also created a wild, eclectic, and insufferable mass of noise that remains unlistenable in most parts when heard apart from the film's similarly indecisive cinematography. There was, after all, a reason why Elfman's original theme was still heard in all Batman-related trailers, commercials, and theme park shows a decade after Goldenthal's theme hit the screens, surviving even into the tenure of Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard's music for the franchise's entries in the 2000's. Goldenthal would redeem himself to a degree with his less frantic, superior approach to Batman & Robin, but the damage to the franchise's musical identity was already done. ** Price Hunt: CD or Download

Bias Check:For Elliot Goldenthal reviews at Filmtracks, the average editorial rating is 3.13 (in 16 reviews)
and the average viewer rating is 3.07 (in 15,601 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.

 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  

Regular Average: 2.91 Stars
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   Re: One of the worst scores ever made
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 Track Listings (1995 Atlantic Album): Total Time: 44:20

• 1. Main Titles & Fanfare (1:50)
• 2. Perpetuum Mobile (0:54)
• 3. The Perils of Gotham (3:01)
• 4. Chase Noir (1:45)
• 5. Fledermausmerschmusik (1:15)
• 6. Nygma Variations (An Ode to Science) (6:02)
• 7. Victoria (2:37)
• 8. Descent (1:07)
• 9. The Pull of Regret (2:50)
• 10. Mouth to Mouth Nocturne (2:14)
• 11. Gotham City Boogie (2:02)
• 12. Under the Top (5:42)
• 13. Mr. E's Dance Card (Rumba, Fox-Trot, Waltz & Tango) (3:21)
• 14. Two-Face Three Step (2:20)
• 15. Chase Blanc (1:23)
• 16. Spank Me! Overture (2:46)
• 17. Holy Rusted Metal (1:51)
• 18. Batterdammerung (1:21)

 Track Listings (2012 La-La Land Album): Total Time: 151:25

CD 1: (74:41)

• 1. Main Title (1:54)
• 2. Batmobile/Introducing Two-Face (1:39)
• 3. Thug Fight (0:55)
• 4. Obligatory Car Chase (2:40)
• 5. Nygma's Cubicle/Bat-Signal (3:22)
• 6. Capsule (1:07)
• 7. Rooftop Seduction/Roof Plunge (2:05)
• 8. Nygma After Hours/Brain Drain/You Are Terminated (4:52)
• 9. Suicide/First Riddle/Second Riddle Delivered (4:14)
• 10. Dream Doll (2:23)
• 11. Big Top Bomb (4:19)
• 12. Circus Opening/The Flying Graysons/Death Drop (3:41)
• 13. Flashback/Signal/Robin's Lament (4:00)
• 14. Have a Safe Flight/Through the Eye (5:57)
• 15. Nygma's Apartment/Two-Face's Lair/Riddler's Entrance/Schizoid Stomp/Brain Drain Expo/Heist Montage (6:04)
• 16. Laundry Room Stunt (0:25)
• 17. More Heists/Third Riddle/Nosy Robin (1:06)
• 18. Building Nygmatech/Family of Zombies (1:29)
• 19. Master Dick (0:56)
• 20. Memories Repressed/Love (2:34)
• 21. Alley Rumble/Screen Kiss (1:38)
• 22. Batcave/Nygmatech Tango/Public Demo (4:39)
• 23. Nygma & Chase Dance (1:16)
• 24. Two-Face's Entrance/Batman's Entrance (2:50)
• 25. Gas Trap/Batman Phoenix (2:30)
• 26. Gratitude Problem (1:33)
• 27. Go to Chase (2:16)
• 28. Batcave Closeout/Dick Leaves Wayne Manor (1:24)

CD 2: (76:44)

• 1. Happy Halloween/The Bat/Love Scene/Twick or Tweat/Seize and Capture (7:08)
• 2. Riddles Solved/Partners/Battleship (6:21)
• 3. Scuba Fight/Claw Island/Emperor of Madness (5:10)
• 4. Fun and Games (3:07)
• 5. Batterdammerung (1:20)
• 6. Two-Face's Demise (1:47)
• 7. Bat Descent/Arkham Asylum (1:00)
• 8. Wet Screen Kiss/March On! (1:22)

Bonus Tracks: (4:30)
• 9. Themes From Batman Forever (B-Side Single) (3:39)
• 10. More Heists (Alternate Version) (0:39)

Original Motion Picture Score Album: (44:43)
• 11. Main Titles & Fanfare (1:52)
• 12. Perpetuum Mobile (0:55)
• 13. The Perils of Gotham (2:58)
• 14. Chase Noir (1:45)
• 15. Fledermausmarschmusik (1:14)
• 16. Nygma Variations (An Ode to Science) (6:03)
• 17. Victory (2:38)
• 18. Descent (1:07)
• 19. The Pull of Regret (2:49)
• 20. Mouth to Mouth Nocturne (2:16)
• 21. Gotham City Boogie (2:02)
• 22. Under the Top (5:40)
• 23. Mr. E's Dance Card (Rhumba, Foxtrot, Waltz & Tango) (3:20)
• 24. Two-Face Three Step (2:19)
• 25. Chase Blanc (1:23)
• 26. Spank Me! Overture (2:36)
• 27. Holy Rusted Metal (1:52)
• 28. Batterdammerung (1:20)

 Notes and Quotes:  

The insert of the 1995 Atlantic album includes no extra information about the score or film. That of the 2012 La-La Land album includes extensive information about both, though the text is somewhat difficult to read as rendered.

  All artwork and sound clips from Batman Forever are Copyright © 1995, 2012, Atlantic Records, La-La Land Records. The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Filmtracks Publications. Audio clips can be heard using RealPlayer but cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 4/29/03 and last updated 1/24/12. Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 2003-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.