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on December 9, 2008
Less than 6 months after the release of the original motion picture soundtrack, a 2-disc "Special Edition" is released obviously to cash in on the film's unprecedented box office success earning $530 million domestically and almost $1 billion worldwide making The Dark Knight the second highest grossing (unadjusted) film in history since the mighty Titanic.

The teaming of James-Newton Howard and Hans Zimmer is the perfect synthesis of orchestral and electronic scoring and together they have created a bold, epic masterpiece that was edited and missing several cues on its initial soundtrack album and it was apparent that they were holding out some material for an inevitable expanded release further down the road. Surprisingly, we didn't have to wait very long for it.

While it is marketed as a "Special Edition" (not to be confused with the The Dark Knight Limited Edition digi-pack of the original release") such wording can be misleading by giving the buyer the impression that they are getting the "complete" uncut score and for the price one would expect nothing less than the kind of exemplary release demonstrated by The Lord Of The Rings: Fellowship Of The Ring (The Complete Recordings) with correct arrangements and alternate versions. Some may be disappointed that all of the unreleased cues appear entirely on Disc 2 while Disc 1 is a straight reissue of the original album that most fans probably already have and not in the proper sequential arrangement of the film. For example Bank Robbery (Prologue) is track 1 on Disc 2 and "We Are Tonight's Entertainment" (Disc 2 track 9) should precede "A Little Push" (Disc 1 track 7), etc. I prefer to listen to film scores in their linear film arrangement so if you want to listen to both CDs in their proper film sequencing it will require some daft "re-editing" since several tracks contain cues that were edited together such as "I'm Not A Hero" which follows the Bank Robbery scene but contains music from the Hong Kong scene appearing later in the film.

This is a solid 5-star score and one of the most memorable film scores I have heard in a long time. All of the previously unreleased cues are compiled onto the second disc and the 4 bonus electronica remixes are interesting but just seem more like filler material for the rest of the second disc. I'm surprised they didn't just release these on a separate album entirely marketed as "Music Inspired By The Dark Knight." I would have preferred to hear composers' outtakes or alternate versions of the score instead and most importantly have them completely un-edited and arranged correctly. On the other hand, the hardbound collector's booklet and the slipcase packaging are nice and help to give it "a little push" for collectors to have but it's kind of a tossup. If you haven't already bought the original album, this is the obvious choice to buy but for those who already purchased it it's kind of a sneaky double-dip dilemma worthy of Two-Face himself, but a choice you'll have to make if you're a fan.

This CD deserves a better class of soundtrack.
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on July 22, 2008
Chaos sits in a darkened corner of Gotham city, rubs its hands together and smiles. It's almost time. In a little while, the forces of insanity and madness will begin a twisted, enraged march through the town, burning it all to the ground as it offers a full challenge to the "Dark Knight" with a limitless grin and a semi-crazy school girl flicker of the eyelids.

The Joker has arrived to town.

James Newton Howard (The Sixth Sense, The Village, Collateral, etc.) and Hans Zimmer (Gladiator, Crimson Tide, The Thin Red Line, etc.) once again have seized the essential musical "nector of the gods" and given us mere mortals another taste of bliss with a score that will certainly rival any action-based film for years to come. Here are the standouts...

#1. Why So Serious?- opens the film. This melody gives us a glimpse of the horror that awaits the city of Gotham as a psychotic clown roams the streets with murder and aimless rage on his devilish mind.

#2. I'm Not a Hero - spells the anguish and darkness that both Batman and his enemies seem to share. A powerful montage of moods which range from a surreal set of ominous strings until being finally eclipsed by by an epic, almost chanting rhythm where we feel the defiance within Batman's soul.

#3. Harvey Two-Face - a Newton Howard piece which illuminates the heroic side of the cities vigilant district attorney, Harvey Dent.

#4. Aggressive Expansion - Zimmer roars out at us with this one. A powerful tune which combines sparse threads of the Batman theme with an otherworldly sense of anticipation.

#5. Always a Catch - Opens with the Joker's delirious theme; closes with a quaint melody.

#6. Blood on My Hands - another Harvey Dent theme. A haunting piece of strings give us the mood for just what Dent represents to the city and his importance to the people as a symbol of justice.

#7. A Little Push - lacking a definitive structure, this song acts as a filler being only 2:42 long.

#8. Like a Dog Chasing Cars - Truly one of the standout pieces to this score, this song attacks the listener with a quick-patterned rise that culminates in menacing dance into the world of both Batman and the Joker. A beautiful tune which shares both the definition of who Joker and Batman truly are, until finally giving way into a melody which stands alone as Batman's, essentially leaving his similarities to the Joker behind.

#9. I am the Batman - short but powerful filler track.

#10. And I Thought My Jokes Were Bad - only 2:30 long, still provides the listener with a concise ride into the realm of Gotham.

#11. Agent of Chaos - Another multi-layered piece which pays initial homage to the Joker's random madness until giving way to the tragic outcome surrounding Harvey Dent.

#12. Introduce a Little Anarchy - if ever there was a Zimmer Batman theme within the film, this would be it.

#13. Watch the World Burn - Captures the horror of what the Joker is capable of doing. Truly one of the gems of the score, if not the most powerful track on the album.

#14. A Dark Knight - at 16:15, acts as the final piece for the film, joining together many of the main themes from the film.

soundtrack grade: A
audibility aside from the film: A
rank among top film scores: top 100
rank among top action scores: top 50
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VINE VOICEon July 16, 2008
The score for The Dark Knight is in one word, incredible. Zimmer and Howard have crafted a complete soundscape for this character and the world he exists in. I love the original Batman Begins score to death and the only way that this score surpasses the previous one is that it feels more grounded. The characters and world are already established so the score has something to build off of.

The two-note motif has already become iconic and synonymous with Batman. With this score we get two new themes. The first one is the new motif for The Joker. It's only one note and Hans spent 3 months fine tuning it to become the perfect sound. The first track is pretty much all of The Joker's music. It's harsh, industrial and gritty and I love it. It works so well even if you are more of a traditional score fan and don't like it one cannot deny how well it works with the image.

James Newton Howard was in charge of Harvey Dent. This music had to represent a fallen idol; someone who was good but became corrupted. So tragic is a word that can be used to describe it. It's very emotional. It stands apart from the intense action music in the score and is really wonderful. The emotional arc of it takes you from light to dark, it's great scoring.

Fans of Hans Zimmer and/or James Newton Howard will be extremely pleased with this score (I very much am). Hans' structure and style is heard well throughout. The score pulses with intensity very much like the original. There is really NO downtime on this entire album. The music carries you every step of the way, the listen on its own is a journey in itself. Now and then you will hear the 1-note Joker theme pop up and it indeed can get your hairs standing on end. It absorbs you and assaults you while leaving you wanting more. Hans and James both share one thing in common in that they score everything for real, meaning they aren't treating this movie as a work of fiction. They are carefully crafting an emotional story arc and building an atmosphere for it to exist in. There is no grandiose and heroic theme. Everything stands on its own and is so much powerful for doing so. The Dark Knight will be one of if not the best score of the year and will be hard to beat in terms of scope and emotional complexity.
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VINE VOICEon July 15, 2008
Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard's score for The Dark Knight is the best soundtrack CD I've purchased in a while. The music is dark and moody but exciting enough to listen to without succumbing to depression. And at well over an hour long, it also delivers its money's worth, and then some. This is no 45-minute selection of background music, this is a powerhouse score that commands your attention.

Especially good is the electronic-esque theme for the Joker, which dominates the first track, "Why so Serious?" and eerily crops up throughout the rest of the score. Zimmer has said in interviews that he based on the Joker's sound on Kraftwerk, an electronica band from his native Germany. When I first read this I wondered what kind of odd sound this would create, but fortunately there's nothing odd about it whatsoever. It sounds something like Kraftwerk and other European electronica, certainly, but also much like Zimmer's work on Black Hawk Down and is not the least bit off-putting. It perfectly mirrors the Joker--jarring, alternately quiet and loud but always moving, and captivating.

The rest of the score expands on themes from the soundtrack of Batman Begins and introduces a lot more new stuff, from the aforementioned theme for the Joker to somber but moving string sections alternating with heavy percussion and brass, especially in the final track, "A Dark Knight." Like I said, the score is very dark but compulsively listenable. I'm going to have this in my CD player for days.

Highly recommended.
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VINE VOICEon July 16, 2008
The score for The Dark Knight is in one word, incredible. Zimmer and Howard have crafted a complete soundscape for this character and the world he exists in. I love the original Batman Begins score to death and the only way that this score surpasses the previous one is that it feels more grounded. The characters and world are already established so the score has something to build off of.

The two-note motif has already become iconic and synonymous with Batman. With this score we get two new themes. The first one is the new motif for The Joker. It's only one note and Hans spent 3 months fine tuning it to become the perfect sound. The first track is pretty much all of The Joker's music. It's harsh, industrial and gritty and I love it. It works so well even if you are more of a traditional score fan and don't like it one cannot deny how well it works with the image.

James Newton Howard was in charge of Harvey Dent. This music had to represent a fallen idol; someone who was good but became corrupted. So tragic is a word that can be used to describe it. It's very emotional. It stands apart from the intense action music in the score and is really wonderful. The emotional arc of it takes you from light to dark, it's great scoring.

Fans of Hans Zimmer and/or James Newton Howard will be extremely pleased with this score (I very much am). Hans' structure and style is heard well throughout. The score pulses with intensity very much like the original. There is really NO downtime on this entire album. The music carries you every step of the way, the listen on its own is a journey in itself. Now and then you will hear the 1-note Joker theme pop up and it indeed can get your hairs standing on end. It absorbs you and assaults you while leaving you wanting more. Hans and James both share one thing in common in that they score everything for real, meaning they aren't treating this movie as a work of fiction. They are carefully crafting an emotional story arc and building an atmosphere for it to exist in. There is no grandiose and heroic theme. Everything stands on its own and is so much powerful for doing so. The Dark Knight will be one of if not the best score of the year and will be hard to beat in terms of scope and emotional complexity.
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HALL OF FAMEon July 30, 2008
Two of Hollywood's most respected, most popular, film composers, Hans Zimmer and James Newtown Howard, have joined forces in composing the most exciting film score I have heard this year not composed by John Williams. Theirs for " The Dark Knight" is quite riveting, with a substantial emphasis on a brooding, melancholy quality for much of the film's music. Indeed, I believe they've surpassed Danny Elfman in composing a score which captures so vividly, the many personal demons which beset Bruce Wayne (Batman), while also giving memorable musical motifs too to his long-time lady friend Rachel Dawes and the dashing young Gotham district attorney Harvey Dent, and, of course, the Joker. Fans of contemporary film music will surely want to add this CD to their collections; it is, without question, among the best of this year.
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on July 15, 2008
"The Dark Knight" is a mature, confident film score. It builds upon themes from "Batman Begins" but adds to it a depth of emotion that the prior work was missing. The tempo and style remain very similar, but what "Batman Begins" lacked, the music for "The Dark Knight" provides in excess- raw, exposive energy.

The score begins with "Why So Serious?"-- the introduction of the Joker's theme. This is an angry piece, starting with a buzzsaw of strings and quickly exploding with a menacing percussion. I was greatly surprised by this piece, mostly because it doesn't follow a typical composition's elements. It is fierce, dissonant and tense. It's chaos! I absolutely love it.

"I'm Not a Hero" picks up directly from the first track, lightly introducing the recognizable refrain for Batman from the first movie. This piece is more typical of the score from the first movie, more incidental and mood-driven. Other tracks that follow this "incidental" style are "Aggressive Expansion", "Blood on my Hands", "I Am The Batman" and "Watch The World Burn."

"Harvey Two-Face" is a sweeping piece-- starting with a melancholy combination of strings and piano. It opens up into a rousing theme that is both noble and sad. This track typifies what is excellent about this score- its ability to use simple motifs to develop a full emotion.

"Always a Catch" is a quick track, starting with Joker's theme (which is akin to a stick of dynamite going off) and recovering with a quiet combination of strings and low horns. And again, "A Little Push" brings back the Joker in all of his menacing glory. Your skin will crawl when you hear this moody piece. By this point in the score, you feel enveloped in the darkness of this villain.

"Like a Dog Chasing Cars" is the most rousing action music from this score. If you want to drive a little faster to work, play this in the car. If you enjoyed "Molossus" from the "Batman Begins" score, then this will be your new favorite track. This is a tense march, heroic and persistent. And this track represents the best in what is an unlikely collaboration between Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard. Excellent music.

"And I Thought My Jokes Were Bad", "Agent of Chaos" and "Introduce a Little Anarchy" are strong action pieces as well. Without overdoing it, the score is able to switch its focus from the pulse-pounding percussion that was typical in the first film's score to this score's unique mood swings into melancholy territory and the Joker's insanely raw anthem.

The score closes with "A Dark Knight" and this is truly an all-encompassing piece. Throughout listening to this entire score, I kept thinking to myself that this was an "urban-industrial opera." There is something very machine-like in the music to this film-- like you are listening to the rhythm of a large engine blasting away at work. I think my biggest gripe with the score to "Batman Begins" has been resolved here- that being the lack of a recognizable theme for Batman. In an interview, the film's composers states the reason they didn't give Batman a "Danny Elfman" theme was that they believed it would "reveal" too much about the hero. Batman's theme is meant to be more of a presence, not an anthem. And when contrasted with the new motifs of this film's score, it makes a lot more sense. While Batman's music is pulsing, Joker's theme is insipid and disruptive. Joker's music cuts through the score, like I said before, with explosive anger.

In all, this is an excellent score, an improvement on "Batman Begins" (without abandoning the prior film's established universe). It is not easy to evaluate a score prior to seeing a film, but this music stands on its own rather easily. Enjoy!
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on December 11, 2008
I knew this was coming out. They even said so on their website for the soundtrack, but the music was just so good that I had to pick up the initial release knowing full well I would double-dip when this set came out.

I enjoy all the extra tracks, but like the other reviewers have stated, I was bothered by them just being thrown upon the disc rather than being placed in order. It would have been great and made the set worthy of 5 stars had they just taken the time to do that: rework the first disc and place all the tracks in order. It's not like they didn't have the time. They stated they were going to release this before the movie even came out.

It's not a deal-breaker, but it does drop the set to 4 stars. I know a lot of soundtracks have the score out of sequence, but not usually when the entire score is released. I felt a bit cheated with the fact that disc 1 of this set was just a straight dupe from the original release. If they had taken the time to re-arrange this it would have been a no-brainer purchase.

I was also a touch disappointed with the 40 page booklet that accompanies the set. It really has no redeaming value. The whole book is just photos (nice photos to be sure) from the movie and credits with a 1 page commentary from director Christopher Nolan which was also on the original release. I would have loved it had they added a page or two from each composer on their thoughts regarding the development of this score, but alas, nothing like that appears.

Finally, the rubber stoppers that are supposed to hold the disc in place in the book are horrendous. Too fat. When you put the disc back in after straining to get it out the first time the rubber flakes off a bit and you need to really work at it to get the disc to sit properly.

5 stars easy for the music, but 3 stars for the packaging and for not arranging the music in order makes it overall 4 stars for me.
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on July 18, 2008
Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard have created a suspenseful, intricate, and audibly pleasurable experience that will put you on the edge of your seat. The music will evoke strong memories from the film, as so many of the characters and scenes were accompanied by distinct tracks. Highly recommended.
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on September 16, 2008
So having had this vinyl for awhile now and listened to the vinyl...I am impressed, but not overly so. The sound is, indeed, warmer and the instruments stand out much better than the CD. Those wanting the overly done bass should stick with the CD for sure. I don't mean this in a bad thing. But from my comparison while having the CD play and the LP playing the same tracks and flipping back and forth between phono and CD, surprisingly the CD's bass is thicker, but almost TOO thick. It comes across too boomy and you almost lose depth to the music if that makes sense. The LP maintains that bass as if it were a concert and you FELT it rather than feeling like your head is going to explode. It's definitely mastered differently so that's a plus. I would only recommend this vinyl for those who are highly sensative to noticing these types of differences though. As this isn't as super obvious as some LP's are compared to their CD offspring.
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