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Section Header
The Dark Knight Rises
Co-Composed and Co-Arranged by:
Hans Zimmer

Additional Music and Arrangements by:
Lorne Balfe
Tom Holkenborg
Andrew Kawczynski
Jasha Klebe
Steve Mazzaro
Ramin Djawadi

Conducted by:
Gavin Greenaway
Matt Dunkley

Orchestrated by:
Bruce Fowler
Walter Fowler
Kevin Kaska
Yvonne Suzette Moriarty
Rick Gioninazzo
Elizabeth Finch
Carl Rydlund
Andrew Kinney
Geoff Stradling
Ed Neumeister

Ambient Design by:
Mel Wesson

Co-Produced by:
Stephen Lipson
Chris Nolan
Alex Gibson

WaterTower Music

Release Date:
July 17th, 2012

Also See:
Batman Begins
The Dark Knight
Batman Returns
Batman Forever
Batman & Robin
The Peacemaker
The Da Vinci Code

Audio Clips:
4. Mind if I Cut In? (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

7. The Fire Rises (0:30):
WMA (202K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

9. Despair (0:28):
WMA (188K)  MP3 (239K)
Real Audio (168K)

15. Rise (0:32):
WMA (213K)  MP3 (269K)
Real Audio (189K)

There is no single satisfactory release of all available music. The CD and digital variations of the initial album unlock access to differing bonus material online.

A limited edition, 180 gram vinyl version (minus the track "Necessary Evil") was scheduled for release two months after the primary CD and download options. It was initially priced at $28.

  Nominated for a Grammy Award.

The Dark Knight Rises
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Buy it... if you've bought into the hyped notion that Hans Zimmer's music for the prior two films in this franchise is the work of a genius, in which case you'll enjoy much more of the same in this third entry.

Avoid it... if you expect Zimmer to deliver on his promises, because what little new material he brings to the table here is obscured by the stagnant brooding, pounded rhythms, and simplistic themes that define all of these scores.

The Dark Knight Rises: (Hans Zimmer/Various) Hesitation gripped director Christopher Nolan in regards to a third installment in his rebooted Batman franchise of the 2000's. His satisfaction with the wildly successful The Dark Knight of 2008 and desire to avoid producing redundant sequels led him to very carefully plan the process of developing a script for 2012's The Dark Knight Rises that would explore new territory and distinctly fresh villains. With relentless viral and traditional promotion and the stirring of Oscar talk for this, the reportedly final entry in the lifespan of this resurrection of the franchise, anticipation could not be greater. Set eight years after the events of the previous film, The Dark Knight Rises forces an exiled Batman back into action due to the combined events caused by two new adversaries: Catwoman and Bane. The former and her alter ego, Selina Kyle, present Bruce Wayne with expected complications to his love life and Bane, among the most intelligent of brutes Batman has ever faced, is interested in causing havoc through terrorist activities. A returning core of characters (and their respective actors) ensures continuity, as do flashbacks that return to elements in Batman Begins to bring the trilogy to a narrative close. Lost in all of the media hype and sensationalism surrounding this franchise's second coming is the artistic merit of Nolan's achievements, and a contributing factor to the frenzy is undoubtedly Hans Zimmer's involvement as the concept's now most frequent musical voice. Unfortunately for Zimmer, his actual speaking voice is so prevalent in interviews that the soundtracks for these films have become their own form of spectacle. Not since John Williams of the early 1980's has a film composer become such a mainstream attraction, and Zimmer indulges the attention by constantly unleashing his thought process and sense of humor in interviews that don't always make much sense when strung together. The role of media star threatens to diminish Zimmer's ability to return someday to the balanced and original ideas with which he first announced his presence to the scoring scene in the early 1990's. Others associated with his circle of influence tend to toil in silence more often than not, including John Powell, who bleeds creativity in relative obscurity despite sharing Zimmer's zany sense of humor.

Compared to the year of hype generated by Zimmer (and the studio on his behalf) for The Dark Knight Rises, you hear practically nothing from a veteran composer like James Horner, whose superior music for The Amazing Spider-Man is unfortunately overshadowed by the clamor for Zimmer's wisdom. Usually, there is no detriment to talking to the press, especially when so few composers receive such attention. But Zimmer, in the process of intellectualizing everything he does for his major assignments, somehow manages to make contradictory and senseless statements all too often. He has declared in recent years that he would retire after his next assignment (which did not happen), develop franchise themes in radical ways (which has not happened), and explore revolutionary new methods of applying music to movies (which has not happened, either). One has to wonder if he is so wrapped up in the hype surrounding his celebrity status that he has lost touch with the reality of his musical output. He is precisely that: a celebrity. Convincing his fans of his genius is one feat, but to read the incessantly glowing praise from Nolan about the man's revolutionary methodologies is both curious and frustrating to those who recognize that beneath the glitz and glamour is a composer whose music has become stagnant and underachieving. Zimmer's mouth is his worst enemy for anyone interested in actually examining the merits of his structures and instrumentation. More than a year prior to the debut of The Dark Knight Rises, he stated about the score, "The one thing I can tell you is that it's going to be a lot more epic. Extraordinarily epic." After finishing the score, he remarked, "We went in a completely different direction for Bane," and "I do think that this movie leads to a sort of resolution - that those same two notes [for Wayne] have shifted and now provide an answer." The problem with these statements is that they are technically false. Nearly everything Zimmer has stated about this score is a gross exaggeration of what he actually accomplished, predictably causing the usual eye-rolling from Zimmer skeptics who regularly lament the difference between the composer's spoken intentions and his underwhelming results. Fans of his will not care; in fact, they will declare "intellectual" film music enthusiasts to be party-poopers and continue blasting Zimmer's music to their balls' content. In some ways, a simpler appreciation indeed could be healthier for the soul.

There's something for everyone to appreciate and loathe in The Dark Knight Rises, regardless of whether or not you've been unlucky enough to attempt to understand Zimmer's professed reasoning for his moves. The important facts about the score that are not in dispute include the departure of James Newton Howard from co-compositional duties, the continuation of the general sound and feel of the franchise (as well as the basic themes), and the introduction of two new themes to represent the arriving villains as appropriate. It's safe to assume that few people will be happy about the album situation for the score, but some points on that subject will be saved for the end of this review. For many listeners, Howard's music for the prior two scores in the franchise was key to providing the sentimental heart that was absent in Zimmer's brooding material. Some even point to it as the highlight of the franchise's music. This time, Howard begged out of the franchise, publically stating that he didn't want to impede upon the relationship that Zimmer and Nolan had solidified with Inception. The "bullshit meter" is pegging on that explanation, with the dreaded phrase "creative differences" a more likely reason for Howard's wish to divest himself from the equation. Zimmer really could have used Howard's softer touch for The Dark Knight Rises, with cues like "Mind if I Cut In?" and "Nothing Out There" desperately needing better emotional connectivity (and, in the case of the first cue, a solidly alluring theme for Selina Kyle). Lorne Balfe and Zimmer's other ghostwriters failed to pick up the slack. Also not disputed by many enthusiasts is the fact that The Dark Knight Rises really does reprise much of what came before, even emulating Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides in its technique of yanking exact cues from the prior scores for new applications. Even if this usage does not bother you, there will be issues with the fact that Zimmer doesn't really unleash his themes in the fashion that impressed listeners at the end of primary album for The Dark Knight. Mostly, The Dark Knight Rises represents an extension of the same material without glorifying it beyond the continued pounding of its dark muscularity. The two-note theme for the protagonist returns, as does the longer-lined idea for the concept that continues to remind of The Da Vinci Code, though the latter isn't as extensively conveyed as some might prefer, especially in the "Rise" cue that otherwise does return to the boy soprano solos from Batman Begins (albeit cut and pasted from "Corynorhinus").

The final fact about The Dark Knight Rises that all will agree upon is that Zimmer did take a stab at providing two new themes in this work. The theme for Kyle/Catwoman in "Mind if I Cut In?" is an intentionally ambiguous series of piano phrases highly reminiscent of the softer portions of The Peacemaker. The tepid application of light tingling effects for this theme is vaguely exotic but Zimmer does nothing else to infer any sense of romance into the character's music. Conversely, the new theme for Bane is the score's highlight. Despite totally neglecting the character's intelligence and instead dwelling upon his imposing physical form, Zimmer does at least change meter dramatically and use a chanting effect to represent the larger-than-life chaos this man aspires to inflict. Introduced in "Gotham's Reckoning," the theme persists in "The Fire Rises," "No Stone Unturned," and others, easily recognizable because of its shift to a dramatically different rhythmic meter than Zimmer is accustomed to utilizing. Once you accept these aforementioned aspects of the score for The Dark Knight Rises as commonly noted observations, where your opinion resides on the rest of the project depends completely upon your acceptance of Zimmer's methods and style. If you ignore the composer's interviews and the lack of emotional and intellectual depth in the simplicity of his music, then the work will stir all the same ominous and brooding passion in you as its predecessors. Otherwise, the score is going to present significant problems for those seeking to make sense out of what Zimmer is doing with this franchise. The main theme is still only two notes long, a rising minor third that does absolutely nothing to convey the complexity of Bruce Wayne's existence. There is still no dichotomy between minor and major key usage to denote this man's two personas. Zimmer's promise in 2005 to flesh out this theme when Batman matures is ignored. When he stated in 2011 that he now planned to make this theme more epic than ever before, he must have meant the rather brightly emphasized performances in "Despair" that finally hint at some major-key heroics. The key of damn near every cue in the score remains, as usual for Zimmer, D minor, a fact that is finally starting to gain widespread recognition for the composer's ridiculous stubbornness. A score that almost never changes key is one that is not capable of being nimble in its response to changing emotions on screen, and if you wonder why so much of his music seems to drone along in boringly derivative fashion, then the key has much to do with this stagnation. Always using the same key must make life easy for the army of ghostwriters, though!

Then, of course, as long as you single out the thematic simplicity and consistency of key, you also have to mention the lack of diversity in instrumentation and tone, as well as the continued reliance upon figures (like low string ostinatos) that remind as much now of Steve Jablonsky's Transformers music as their appropriate heritage in this franchise. The totality of the dwelling in the bass region has reached the point of laughability. Any veteran composer can unleash horrifically rumbling, masculine force from the bass while also employing concurrent appeal from the treble, a technique Zimmer still chooses not to attempt. Again, this refusal to explore the full spectrum greatly diminishes the composer's ability to address emotional range. The boy soprano voice is electronically manipulated at the start and end of the score for eerie reflections on the main theme, and there's the "Corynorhinus" reprise as well. In addition, you have the aforementioned, quiet piano cues. But as nice as it is to hear the boy's voice and the piano (especially when it explores the longer Batman theme in "Nothing Out There"), these contributions are swallowed up by Zimmer's continued hesitance to leave the glory days of Crimson Tide and The Peacemaker behind, especially after the reception he enjoyed for Inception. There are, of course, no woodwinds in this score. The violins seem mixed far in the background. Recall for a moment what Danny Elfman did to represent Catwoman with violins in Batman Returns. They do work. Zimmer's evolution of music for the franchise, both in terms of tone and theme, is completely nonexistent. Especially without Howard's portions, this music accomplishes nothing new, the Batman theme still failing to truly evolve. In "On Thin Ice," Zimmer torments listeners with the possibility that this main theme will gain at least a third note (sending it in the direction of John Barry's Zulu, no less!), but this idea is subsequently abandoned. The most promising aspect of this third score was Zimmer's much-hyped sampling of chants from people around the world (using the website UJAM) for use with Bane's theme. Unfortunately, while the result is interesting, the composer doesn't feature these vocals in such a way as to really make an impact on the score. They exist, and they serve their purpose, but they are not as obvious as the obnoxious, single-note theme for the Joker in the prior movie and the same results, quite honestly, could have been generated in studio without all the public relations fuss. Like most aspects of this score, the chants represent the great promise but very little delivery from Zimmer. That is, unless you want to hear regurgitation of the prior two scores.

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In the end, you get your swooshing sound effects, French horns in unison, omnipresent bass droning, and at least something of a crescendo of harmonic satisfaction in the final cue, "Rise." As such, Zimmer earned his pay. Don't be fooled into thinking that these scores are the high art that the composer's interviews suggest, however. The fanboys will feast on its loyalty while the intellectuals will expose its many faults. Even worse, the album situation for The Dark Knight Rises emulates the extremely irritating release format as Tron: Legacy in 2010. The standard 51-minute album's contents are adequate but missing extensive portions of the score. Thus, Watertower and Warner Brothers decided to release additional bonus tracks unique to the digital release, others unique to the CD release, and one cue exclusive to All of these tracks are of decent length, and together, about 84 minutes of music can be collected from the various sources. Good luck trying to get them, however; the CD and iTunes releases send you to Push Entertainment to get the tracks, and once there, you have to provide your Facebook or Twitter accounts (or create an all new one) to get your music. Never mind the fact that the privacy policy link fails to load or that you could get spammed extensively by these people. If you're on a Mac, you may not get the content's applet to load even after you register (due to technical errors). As for the bonus music itself, three of the six initially available cues are simple remixes ("Bombers Over Ibiza," "The Shadows Betray You," and "The End") while the others aren't radically different from the rest of the score. The most important one to acquire is "No Stone Unturned," with a continuation of the Bane theme, a super-heroic brass anthem in middle, and somber atmospherics with hints of the main theme at the end. Also to be considered are "Risen From Darkness" (the fuller concept theme in pounding The Peacemaker mode throughout) and "All Out War" (more explicit ostinatos from the first score and some shifts to the Bane meter). Not available is Zimmer's suggested use of the boy soprano for the national anthem in the football game scene, a pivotal point in the soundtrack. Between the extremely irritating release format of the soundtrack on album, Zimmer's continued promises of greatness that go unrealized in the finished product, and the inexplicable hype that surrounds this franchise's music, you receive music that is functional at best, mediocre most often, and insultingly simplistic at worst. The composer needs to shut his yap, dump the ghostwriters, shift to F major, conjure a fluid theme, and drop a wicked oboe solo on us. Perhaps then he'd deserve an interview. Price Hunt: CD or Download

    Music as Written for the Film: **
    Music as Presented on the Albums: *
    Overall: **

Bias Check:For Hans Zimmer reviews at Filmtracks, the average editorial rating is 2.98 (in 89 reviews)
and the average viewer rating is 3 (in 266,335 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.

 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  

Regular Average: 2.63 Stars
Smart Average: 2.73 Stars*
***** 272 
**** 252 
*** 331 
** 390 
* 528 
  (View results for all titles)
    * Smart Average only includes
         40% of 5-star and 1-star votes
              to counterbalance fringe voting.
   TDKR average critics rating
  Chris -- 10/6/13 (11:54 a.m.)
   Re: This reviewer
  RIKUO -- 8/12/13 (5:17 p.m.)
   The hate is laughable
  Geoff -- 7/17/13 (10:25 a.m.)
   Zimmer Fan who disliked soundtrack
  Will S. -- 6/27/13 (12:19 p.m.)
   I Cannot Believe What I Just Read
  Brendan Cochran -- 5/28/13 (10:22 p.m.)
Read All | Add New Post | Search | Help  

 Track Listings: Total Time: 83:55

Regular Tracks: (51:18)
• 1. A Storm is Coming (0:37)
• 2. On Thin Ice (2:55)
• 3. Gotham's Reckoning (4:08)
• 4. Mind if I Cut In? (3:27)
• 5. Underground Army (3:12)
• 6. Born in Darkness (1:57)
• 7. The Fire Rises (5:33)
• 8. Nothing Out There (2:51)
• 9. Despair (3:14)
• 10. Fear Will Find You (3:08)
• 11. Why Do We Fall? (2:03)
• 12. Death By Exile (0:23)
• 13. Imagine the Fire (7:25)
• 14. Necessary Evil (3:16)
• 15. Rise (7:11)
CD-Only Bonus Tracks: (17:47)
• 16. Bombers Over Ibiza (Junkie XL Remix) (5:51)
• 17. No Stone Unturned (7:29)
• 18. Risen from Darkness (4:27)

Digital-Only Bonus Tracks: (17:24)
• 16. Bombers Over Ibiza (Junkie XL Remix) (5:51)
• 17. The Shadows Betray You (5:20)
• 18. The End (6:13) Exclusive Track: (3:17)
• 16. All Out War (3:17)

(total time includes the sum of all unique tracks)

 Notes and Quotes:  

The insert includes a long note from the director touting the greatness of the composer, including applause for specific music not included on the album. The packaging contains no actual photography from the film.

  All artwork and sound clips from The Dark Knight Rises are Copyright © 2012, WaterTower Music. 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 7/15/12 (and not updated significantly since). Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 2012-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.