James Newton Howard / Hans Zimmer

Batman Begins [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack]

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Director Christopher Nolan's brooding attempt at resurrecting the ailing Batman franchise is met head-on by two of film music's most prolific and recognizable characters. The ultra-serious tone that permeates Batman Begins is not limited to its gothic narrative and brooding visuals. Oscar-winning composers Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard have crafted an atmosphere that relies less on the dynamics of Danny Elfman and more on the rain-soaked soundscapes of Brian Eno and Blade Runner-era Vangelis. With over 60 minutes of music, Batman Begins' glacial pace makes for a challenging listen, and its insistence on remaining unabashedly nocturnal -- each track is named for a specific species of bat -- is both admirable and frustrating, as the main theme doesn't truly appear until nearly four tracks in. Though each composer shares a co-writing credit, listeners who are familiar with their work will recognize the signatures -- Howard's bleak and pastoral string and piano cues keep the film grounded, while Zimmer utilizes the thunderous percussion and Soviet-bloc chord structures that fueled both Crimson Tide and Gladiator. For those who were hoping for an audio repeat of the 1989 original, Batman Begins may prove to be a disappointment, but for longtime fans of the caped crusader's darker past, the lack of a traditional "summer blockbuster popcorn" score will come as a welcome surprise.

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