Thursday, January 7, 2010

Sherlock Holmes by Hans Zimmer (Review)

Hans Zimmer explodes into adventure with his highly entertaining and very unique score to Sherlock Holmes. When I first read that Hans would be doing a Guy Ritchie film I became a little curious. Ritchie is known for using mostly songs and little to no score in his films. So, why would he hire a composer who is known for making music stand up and take charge in the narrative? I don’t know why, but I’m glad it happened. The score is incredibly fun and is a concoction that only Zimmer and his featured soloists could have come up with.

Hans says the score took inspiration from Irish and gypsy music. So the tunes are off key in places and utilize uncommon instruments such as the banjo or the custom hybrid “Experibass”. It has the swashbuckling waltzy feel of his theme for Jack Sparrow yet all the instrumentation and attitude of an Ennio Morricone western score. In other words, it brings what you see on the screen to vivid life. The track “Not In Blood, But In Bond” showcases one of the many amazing soloists in a hauntingly beautiful track. This track plays over the slow motion sequence of the wharf bombing and will honestly give you chills. Yet you will have a ridiculously goofy track like “ I Never Woke Up In Handcuff’s Before”, which has a Middle Eastern flair accented by an accordion that eventually weaves the main theme in.

The film itself is hugely entertaining and there is not a dull moment in the entire score (or the film). The highlight is of course the 18-minute track titled “Psychological Recovery . . . 6 Months”. It’s practically all the music from the final act of the film and it’s one helluva ride. The structures and sounds bleed Zimmer and will keep you riveted and smiling all at once. Hans is still the only composer I know who knows best how to create these grand emotional ascending arcs that continually build and build and then erupt, which is exactly what the final act of the score does.

Sherlock Holmes was a great way to end the year. It was like getting a summer action score in the winter when usually all we have is the “serious” stuff. Hans Zimmer continues to go out of his way to try and not tread over old ground. He continually creates emotionally driven music that lifts the films he scores to new heights. I still love the fact that he can do all this crazy and innovative instrumentation and the sound is still unmistakably Zimmer. I also love the “Black Hawk Down” strings that come in at 10:35 into “Psychological Recovery . . . 6 Months”. If there are any Modern Warfare 2 players out there they might recognize it. I don’t know if Hans or Lorne is responsible for that one, but it made me smile.

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