With The Dark Knight Rises score, Hans Zimmer demonstrates his impeccable ability to create new themes within his own sprawling framework. Where would Nolan's Batman trio be without its signature horn scherzando into drums and strings? And how hard has it been to reimagine a musical motif for one of the most recognizable heroes in modern mythology? Zimmer was always up to the task. His resume oozes with epic constructions, most memorably the rousing theme from Ridley Scott's Gladiator and recently, the brilliant and dynamic boom of Inception. And on his first Dark Knight film score without James Newton Howard, Zimmer was challenged more than ever before. He set out to create themes for new characters and scenarios, as well as wrapping up the entire trilogy with a larger-than-life climactic end sequence, all while weaving in the recognizable Bat-themes of the first two movies.
Zimmer -- who helped mold the signature Nolan Bat-music in Begins, and brilliantly used razor blades on wire to symbolize the twisted chaotic mind of The Joker in The Dark Knight -- was more than up to the task.
The film's most recognizable musical motif is that of the chant, which according to Zimmer means "Rise, Rise, Up, Up" in an unknown language. The chant underscores much of the conflicting scenes with Bane, as well as functioning as a plot device in a certain notorious prison. We won't ruin too much of the story, but the dual wielding of the chant as foreboding despair and inexorable triumph is a powerfully emotional component of the film. Repeat listening, even without the film's visuals, conjures intense feelings.
Zimmer also did an outstanding job with the Catwoman theme, a quick flick of a few solo piano notes and ascending strings, gracefully executing the mystique of the character. It fits in nicely with the rest of the movie's score, which is surprising, consider the minimal use of acoustic piano as a lead instrument.
A larger-than-life film deserves a larger-than-life score, and here, Zimmer delivers. His work on this trilogy has already earned him the job of soundtracking Warner's forthcoming Man Of Steel film, which will present an even greater challenge: updating the brutally iconic Superman theme created for Richard Donner's 1979 classic by John Williams. If his work on the Batman films is any indication, It will be yet another aural spectacle.