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BATMAN BEGINS

"Rather gloomy affair will not be for everyone's taste"


Review by Thomas Glorieux:

A surprising choice was made when both Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard were hired to compose the music for the newest Batman film, especially considering both would make excellent choices on themselves for the picture, but together? This is not like John Powell and Harry Gregson-Williams working as a pair on for instance Chicken Run, because they both have the same musical background as history, namely MV. But now 2 Hollywood A-list composers still got together to make the most of it. And in context of the film, it worked, but it basically wasn't noticed that much. While the movie remains the best Batman film, the most well acted as most exhilarating (especially in the second part) movie of them all, you still were wondering what about the music itself. This has got to do with the fact a big main theme isn't hung out to dry immediately, so Elfman fanatics and Batman fanatics who whished a dazzling comic book theme ala Batman himself will simply feel quickly the lack of its grandeur the most. And in a way, they've got a point, there is a main theme and perhaps it should have been promoted more. But also consider the fact that in the first part, Batman just doesn't exist, and in Tim Burton's film the caped bat already existed as character, so its also understandable the theme isn't noticed that much. But, perhaps it should have grown like The Fellowship of the Ring theme, in the middle the first presentation and then the constant performances of it. However, not in this movie, so be prepared for it. Of course, most fans will already be drawn away from the solo lack of A main theme. What Batman Begins also lacks is basically a heroic mood, but again the score functions more as the darker angrier voice of Bruce Wayne aka Batman, he carries so much darkness in himself, its again understandable the score doesn't burst out in heroic measures, but perhaps the gothic level of Danny Elfman's Batman should have been promoted instead. Anyway, these are all things that will be either liked or disliked by the fans of the Batman genre, the Danny Elfman Batman fans as the fans of the composers. But its basically true, Batman Begins lacks a lot of gusto to make it memorable!

But does this now mean Batman Begins is bad? Well, no its not and you accept it for what it is, and above all it worked in the movie. But I expected perhaps more of its feel, or what it should deliver as feel. Like for instance the opening track 'Vespertilio' (mark these names, and try to imagine what scene it accompanies), here you hear a Zimmer style with its moody Ring atmosphere, and a sub theme that stands for Wayne's descent into the darkness or unknowingness, it grows stronger and frankly, this was one of the few pieces you would notice in the film. James Newton Howard takes the more softer material at hand I feel at times, of course his influence will be more then just that. 'Eptesicus' is softer with piano and soft strings, I think you can hear some variations on the rising main theme but especially the classicism of the violin ala Gladiator and The Village is noticed, and the tempo at times is more set by Zimmer in this track, trying to make it a little more gothic, but hardly Elfman gothic. The action sound is noticed, and 'Myotis' is the escape out of the temple, and while dark it also uses the trailer music with a rhythm touch by Zimmer, again some theme variations make the Batman figure rise. But frankly not much sparkles as true excitement and that's a shame, and this doesn't improve in the latter tracks. 'Barbastella' is more brooding Sixth Sense music with the piano and the beat for the cave, but as said by many, the brief boy vocal in the begin seems to be from Zimmer, but its obvious both composers worked together sometimes closely. 'Artibeus' is rather boring, clashing sounds, dissonant shrieks and basically a moody piece, meaning rather forgettable. More mood settles itself in 'Tadarida', but here percussion leads to a solo female vocal and a violin eeriness ala Pearl Harbor, again a Zimmer notch in this one. Yet despite all the understandable darkness, this score actually delivers few on real thrills. Then I'm glad with 'Macrotus', a rather touching and good love theme is heard through rising strings and piano (capturing a bit of anger as love in its performance), here Newton Howard has the most hand in it I think.

The growing dark theme of track 1 returns most noted in 'Antrozous' and 'Nycteris' is moody again, but the piano tone for the end is helpful and welcome. Then truly welcome is the next, and why because the music finally breaks out of its shell with 'Molossus' and while not terrific, its the best track on the score, because it breaks the tedious of the music with heavy rhythm. This is more Zimmer then Howard but then again, how can I know for sure, but at least the theme is there in a more action setting (also heard in the trailer) and while not super strong, at least the speed and excitement is more onboard then the other tracks can bring. 'Corynorhinus' brings back the piano and string love led theme, and even the main theme but hardly bursting through the speakers, making way for the rather subdued or soft (end titles I believe) in 'Lasiurus'. Again this is moody and rising strings but nothing earth shattering and frankly rather disappointing as a finale track. You heard it, Batman Begins is a big question mark, despite its tedious altogether effect and rather bland tone, you still hum most of it nonetheless, and it works in the movie and the understandable darkness ok is there to appreciate. But again, many fans will find this to be bland and uninspiring, of course easily returning to Batman and even the more interesting Batman Returns as Batman & Robin scores. And they aren't wrong in that situation. But altogether, this score still has at least its moments and despite it all it kinda works as soundtrack. But please, this is a total different affair then eiter Elfman's or Goldenthal's music, and while all will have their charm, Batman Begins is the total strange bird of the five, no big winning theme, no strong gothic allure or pounding touch, but basically a mood setter that achieves something of a goal, and that is the rise of a dark figure and the anger inside of him. But Batman Begins will hardly make you think twice of hearing it again, for that it lacks the utter charm of what was heard before. The movie on the other hand ...

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Tracks Single Disc

1. Vespertilio (2.52)

2. Eptesicus (4.20)

3. Myotis (5.46)

4. Barbastella (4.45)

5. Artibeus (4.19)

6. Tadarida (5.05)

7. Macrotus (7.35)

8. Antrozous (3.59)

9. Nycteris (4.25)

10. Molossus (4.49)

11. Corynorhinus (5.03)

12. Lasiurus (7.27)

Total Length: 60.30

 

The use of artwork or photos is posted for non profitable reasons

=== Link to Composer Sites: Hans Zimmer & James Newton Howard ===

Original Soundtrack by Hans Zimmer & James Newton Howard

Produced by by Hans Zimmer & James Newton Howard
Executive Producer: Christopher Nolan

Orchestrations by Brad Dechter & Bruce Fowler

 

Recorded at Air Studios; London

Also See:

Batman

Gladiator

The Sixth Sense

The Village