Listen to samples of Hans Zimmer's score for 'The Dark Knight Rises'

The music of the third film seems to call back to 'Batman Begins' a lot

<p>Cover art for &quot;The Dark Knight Rises&quot;&nbsp;soundtrack</p>

Cover art for "The Dark Knight Rises" soundtrack

Credit: WaterTower Music

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Can you feel that? It's the swelling of anticipation for "The Dark Knight Rises" reaching a fever pitch. Pretty soon, the thing is gonna pop and all 165 minutes of the film will be unleashed and some may just faint with that "it's finally here!" ecstasy.

Tickets for IMAX screenings went on sale Monday, and most of the midnight screenings were pretty much zapped instantly. This after select theaters put theirs on sale back in January and, yep, sold out. Insanity. Here's hoping there's something really special underneath all that hype. (I'm sure there is.)

Christopher Nolan's Batman series has largely been defined, I think, by the work James Newton Howard and Hans Zimmer have done with the music. Unfortunately, neither "Batman Begins" nor "The Dark Knight" were nominated by the Academy (the latter stirring quite the controversy in 2008, with Zimmer even going before the Academy to state his case when eligibility came into question). But that's to be expected with that branch.

Alas, this time around, it's just Zimmer on the score. Howard was committed to other projects so it's a shame he wasn't on board, but judging by some early samples, that hasn't made for any drastic shifts. The percussive intensity of the music is still there (which has always had more of a Howard vibe to me), but the eerie, swelling elements (which has always felt more Zimmer-ish) have been amped up a bit. It's the end of an epic after all, so that makes sense.

Interesting to me is how so much of the score kind of calls back to "Batman Begins," particularly one track called "Despair." And there's even another track called "Why Do We Fall," which recalls Alfred's relationship to Bruce in the first film. And the final track, "Rise," brings back that child solo that was so prevalent in the "Begins" score, too.

On that note, as excited as I am in general for a new Batman film, I'm mostly interested in how it will tie in to the first one and make for a cohesive, definitive, (hopefully) thematically virtuous piece of a greater whole. Much of Nolan's language has been about ending the story, about completing the story, and that says to me he's interested in the body of work as much as the individual installment.

The whole thing was originally laid out as a trilogy way back before "Batman Begins" went into production, so that all makes sense. But I imagine we'll never really know what the death of Heath Ledger did to derail, or at the very least, detour that original vision.

Have a listen to the 30-second samples of each track on "The Dark Knight Rises" soundtrack (courtesy of Batman-News.com) and check out the cover art below. Some of the track titles might be considered spoilerish to some, I don't really think so.

"The Dark Knight Rises" soundtrack will be available on July 17. The film hits theaters July 20.

The Dark Knight Rises soundtrack cover art
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Kristopher Tapley
Editor-at-Large
Kristopher Tapley has covered the film awards landscape for over a decade. He founded In Contention in 2005. His work has also appeared in The New York Times, The Times of London and Variety. He begs you not to take any of this too seriously.
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UPDATED: MARCH 2, 2014