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Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
Co-Composed and Co-Produced by:
Hans Zimmer
Lorne Balfe

Conducted by:
Gavin Greenaway

Orchestrated by:
Bruce Fowler
Walt Fowler
Rick Gioninazzo
Kevin Kaska
Carl Rydlund
Elizabeth Finch
Andrew Kinney

WaterTower Music

Release Date:
December 13th, 2011

Also See:
Sherlock Holmes
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
The Peacemaker

Audio Clips:
4. Chess (Shadows - Part 3) (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

5. It's So Overt It's Covert (0:29):
WMA (193K)  MP3 (239K)
Real Audio (168K)

13. Zu Viele Fuchse Fur Euch Hansel (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

15. Moral Insanity (0:30):
WMA (202K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

Regular U.S. release. Three additional tracks can be downloaded using the CD's enhanced features.


Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
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Buy it... if even a haphazard and unfocused extension of ideas from the first Sherlock Holmes score will meet your expectations, or if you went on a road trip to Slovakia and found the region's traditional gypsy music intoxicating.

Avoid it... if you were dissatisfied with Hans Zimmer and his team's seemingly lazy approach to coordinating the equally disjointed and incohesive soundtrack for Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides earlier in 2011.

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows: (Hans Zimmer/Lorne Balfe) Following the surprising success of the 2009 adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's famed Sherlock Holmes into the cinematic action genre, Warner Brothers expressed an immediate interest in a sequel. Most the same cast and crew was assembled in short order to enact Doyle's "The Final Problem," the story set in 1891 in which detective Sherlock Holmes' chief nemesis, Professor Moriarty, is first introduced. In Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Moriarty leads Holmes and his sidekick, Dr. Watson, on an adventure through Europe that begins with the investigation of the assassination of the Crown Prince of Austria. Teaming with a fortune telling gypsy along the way, the group of protagonists remains one step behind the brilliant schemes of Moriarty, whose motives are far broader than anyone first surmises. The cool, blue hues and gritty humor of Sherlock Holmes return for the 2011 sequel, the latter courtesy of the chemistry between lead actors Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law. Also resurrected is the sound of composer Hans Zimmer, aided this time by Lorne Balfe just as in the prior entry. The previous score was nominated for an Academy Award and Grammy in part because of the composer's notoriety but also owing to the quirky, gypsy-like personality of its accordion, banjo, cimbalom, and fiddle-performed primary theme. Zimmer had successfully managed to take the sound of his obscure score for An Everlasting Piece and expand it into the realm of his action music, creating a hybrid of gypsy enthusiasm and brute force from The Peacemaker that was difficult to ignore. For the sequel, the composer took roughly the same path, but he did so by pushing both sides of the franchise's music to their extremes. It is another case in which the production of the soundtrack turned into an excuse for unrestrained fun on the part of the composer, this time yielding a road trip to Slovakia and Vienna to find and record genuine gypsy music. One could easily get the impression with Zimmer and his team's product for Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides earlier in 2011 that a fluid, entertaining creation process for the music was the primary concern, and the evidence points to such an environment in the planning of A Game of Shadows as well. Similar to many of Zimmer's ensemble crew soundtracks, this one has a distinctly vague overall personality and practically no narrative direction. It relies upon eccentric expressions of the two halves to the previous score without setting any particularly solid foundation for this film.

It's difficult to fault anyone for having fun at his or her workplace. So many people have such mundane jobs that it is refreshing to hear the echoes of Zimmer's laughter in scores like A Game of Shadows. There is a sense of liberation that comes with such a free spirit doing what tickles his fancy. At the same time, however, the composer and his army of assistants had a job to do for A Game of Shadows, and just as with On Stranger Tides, you get the impression that the larger goal was sacrificed in the process of seeking fun avenues of expressing gypsy demeanor and tinkering with the standard Zimmer action formula that was set to a combination of procedures from The Peacemaker once again and Inception on top of that. There is practically no instrumental cohesion to A Game of Shadows whatsoever, despite the prominent placement of the gypsy elements. Those fiddle, accordion, guitar, and clarinet performances (among others) are indeed impressively exotic in their authentic performance emphasis. The recordings of the Slovakian performers are quite admirable in many respects. The traditional orchestral elements are far less inspired, again relying upon the lowest registers of an ensemble to throb, brood, and thump their way through one moment of power after another. The third factor in the makeup of the score is the synthetic one, with overlays of odd noises sometimes obvious in their meaning but at other times a tool of disillusionment. These three basic parts never interact with much cohesion in A Game of Shadows, the gypsy and orchestral recordings seemingly acting exclusively in the mix most of the time and the synthetic overlays obnoxious in nearly every application. Stylistically, Zimmer is so enthralled with the gypsy sound that he relies heavily upon it, using these performances as an extension of the significant source-like usage coordinated for the film. The orchestral half of the score is tired and redundant, the action cues (assembled in three "Shadows" suites near the start of the soundtrack's album) following all the expected trademarks of Zimmer's steady techniques in this area. You'll hear the "foghorn blasts" (as Zimmer's fans affectionately call them) from Inception, the repetition of notes to pound home their emphasis, and massive minor-key phrases deep in the bass that are reminiscent of The Peacemaker. This final point is a bit ironic given that this comment was made about the first Sherlock Holmes score and now the franchise has extensive parts aboard a train to bring that sound full circle. Zimmer's suspense material, concentrated in the final third of the album, is generic to his career in less interesting ways. The trio of album tracks from "Did You Kill My Wife?" to "The Mycroft Suite" is an example of vignette philosophy at work.

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Thematically, A Game of Shadows completely lacks major development of new motifs and does little to expand upon the two-part theme from the original film. Aside from cute manipulations of the primary phrase of the main theme in a few cues, "The End?" redundantly expresses only a slightly altered, fuller performance of the idea. The theme's second part does figure more prominently in the album's second half, "Memories of Sherlock" creepy in conveying this idea on piano over a troubled soundscape. No clearly expressed new themes are explored to an effective end in A Game of Shadows, a series of pounded pairs in "Chess" and "Zu Viele Fuchse Fur Euch Hansel" joining a vague, ascending phrase in the action material to serve as the score's only secondary motifs of significant repetition. As usual, Zimmer plays with other composers' compositions for this assignment, absolutely mutilating Mozart's opera "Don Giovanni" in the process of turning it into a cheap Media Ventures exposition of poor taste and layering Schubert's "Die Forelle" with unlistenable distortion and overlays of droning crap. Zimmer's personal obsession with Ennio Morricone causes the theme from the 1970 score Two Mules for Sister Sara to be licensed as well, though at least this outside performance is left unaltered and is refreshingly dynamic in tone compared to the stomping inelegance of the full ensemble parts of the rest of the soundtrack. These diversions, along with the forcing of more gypsy material into the score, cause the whole of A Game of Shadows to be severely disjointed, a trait of too many Zimmer scores of this era. Even if you can separate the highlights, it's a two-star score at best. But what ultimately sinks this effort to the bottom of the barrel is its atrocious mixing. Rarely do soundtracks sound as awful as this one, in part because of the manipulation of the music in jarring edits and, as mentioned before, in part due to the unnecessary synthetic overlays that kill several cues (the "tick tock" of the action cues even induces eye rolling). The album's arrangement is not only awkward, but it contains studio dialogue, troublesome merging of adjacent recordings, and the usual overbearing bass. The remix at the end of the CD, "Romani Holiday," is completely unnecessary and symbolic of all the score's failings. Three bonus cues downloadable through the CD's enhanced portion offer two gypsy pieces as source material and a waltz cue that spins off into standard Zimmer pounding and more generic suspense. At the end of the day, it's clear that the composer and his associates had a jolly good time producing this soundtrack. But as an effective film score, it totally lacks any cohesive development and intersperses unnecessarily grating effects into its formula. After the success of the prior entry in the franchise, it's painful to hear that score's ingredients thrown haphazardly at the wall to see what still sticks. * Price Hunt: CD or Download

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: 2.49 Stars
Smart Average: 2.65 Stars*
***** 78 
**** 88 
*** 128 
** 147 
* 213 
  (View results for all titles)
    * Smart Average only includes
         40% of 5-star and 1-star votes
              to counterbalance fringe voting.
   Game of Shadows average critics rating
  Chris -- 10/6/13 (11:39 a.m.)
   Re: Be professional! *NM*
  Marvin Arnold -- 9/11/13 (3:28 p.m.)
   Re: Zimmer Soars Through Clouds of Criticis...
  Dumpling Warrior -- 8/18/13 (2:33 a.m.)
   Be professional!
  Dennis Li -- 8/18/13 (2:31 a.m.)
   Music On Forest Escape Scene?
  cenzo -- 7/8/13 (2:50 p.m.)
Read All | Add New Post | Search | Help  

 Track Listings: Total Time: 68:55

• 1. I See Everything (0:39)
• 2. That is My Curse (Shadows - Part 1) (1:51)
• 3. Tick Tock (Shadows - Part 2) (8:13)
• 4. Chess (Shadows - Part 3) (7:34)
• 5. It's So Overt It's Covert (3:19)
• 6. Romanian Wind (1:56)
• 7. Did You Kill My Wife? (2:42)
• 8. He's All Me Me Me (1:58)
• 9. The Mycroft Suite (1:41)
• 10. To the Opera! (includes excerpt from Don Giovanni by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart) (4:03)
• 11. Two Mules for Sister Sara (Morricone) - performed by Movie Screen Orchestra (2:34)
• 12. Die Forelle (Schubert) - performed by Ian Bostridge & Julius Drake (3:23)
• 13. Zu Viele Fuchse Fur Euch Hansel (1:47)
• 14. The Red Book (4:00)
• 15. Moral Insanity (1:31)
• 16. Memories of Sherlock (2:11)
• 17. The End? (2:26)
• 18. Romani Holiday (Antonius Remix) (5:40)

Downloadable Bonus Tracks:
• 19. Shush Club No. 3 (4:31)
• 20. Beautiful Eyes (2:13)
• 21. Just Follow My Lead (The Waltz) (4:44)

(total time includes bonus tracks)

 Notes and Quotes:  

The insert includes extensive credits and a single page advertisement for $2 ringtones from each of the CD tracks. The CD is enhanced and will open a link on your computer to additional music and videos available online.

  All artwork and sound clips from Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows are Copyright © 2011, 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 12/16/11 (and not updated significantly since). Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 2011-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.