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Sherlock Holmes - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack Soundtrack Review

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by Chris McEneany Dec 28, 2009

  • Movies review


    Sherlock Holmes - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack Soundtrack Review

    As with the score for Avatar, from James Horner (see separate CD review), Hans Zimmer's soundtrack for Sherlock Holmes came in right at the end of the year and, together, the pair of them, like two musical juggernauts, immediately knocked my previous top film-scores for 2009 right off their perches with such dazzling exuberance and inspired vigour that they demand extensive coverage and some well-earned recognition. So, score-sleuths, after the ethereal beauty of Avatar, please lend your ears to Zimmer's wild and wonderful score for Sherlock Holmes.

    Having given awesome breaks to people like John Powell (The Bourne Trilogy, United 93, X-Men: Last Stand), Klaus Badelt (The Time Machine, K-19 The Widowmaker and the first Pirates movie), Harry Gregson-Williams (Sinbad And The Legend Of The Seven Seas, The Chronicles Of Narnia and the incredible Kingdom Of Heaven), Steve Jablonsky (Transformers I and II) and Nick Glennie-Smith (We Were Soldiers), who have since specialised in electronic/percussive/ethnic scores, Zimmer is one of the most accessible and accommodating of modern composers. Generous to a fault, he schools up-and-coming composers with his Media Ventures/Remote Control Productions and then allows them to go out and forge their own careers, as well as maintaining his own busy and ever-creative schedule. However you break it down, there aren't that many of his contemporaries who would do the same. Yet, as I explained with regards to James Horner in my review for his score for Avatar, there are many issues that score-fans have with Hans Zimmer, no matter how successful and in-demand he may be. Self-plagiarism is one. Excessive use of elecronica in lieu of the traditional orchestra is another and, perhaps, the one that most consternates. His tendency to sample instruments, extrapolate tunes and motifs from earlier scores and to create a dense thematic “wall of sound” at the expense of traditional melody and orchestration are things that many film music-lovers just can't abide. And, in the past, I, myself, have veered from loving his style to loathing it, but I have always returned to it ... and even the scores that I have, at first, deplored, I have discovered that I have ultimately come to enjoy.

    For Guy Ritchie's awesomely enjoyable Sherlock Holmes reboot starring an utterly fantastic Robert Downey Jnr as the super-sleuth and a surprisingly engaging Jude Law (who I normally cannot abide) as his long-suffering sidekick, Dr. Watson, Zimmer goes right out into a new creative territory. The film, itself, is simply fantastic and nowhere near as divergent from Conan Doyle's original stories as some would have you believe. The period setting is both wonderfully rich and evocative and delightfully askew - and it certainly helps that a lot of it was filmed not far away from me! Holmes is played to perfection by Downey Jnr - ratty and dishevelled, obsessively driven and furiously dynamic, yet pathetically vulnerable and so utterly “removed” that only his comic eccentricity imbues him with any tangible sense of humanity - and may well serve as the most convincing embodiment of the compulsive sleuth yet portrayed ... although I still love Universal's Basil Rathbone in the role and believe that Christopher Plummer nails the character's innate hankering after doom and darkness the best in Murder By Decree. The sense of foreboding and of a demoniacally infused mystery is keen, and the low-life skulduggery of the murky environment is vividly recreated. Fast, complex and furiously amusing, Sherlock Holmes 2009-style is a genuine grunge-fest of colourful characters who stand out in a muddy, monochromatic milieu that totally captivates and enthrals with plenty to engage the grey matter, as well as the adrenaline.

    Although it did surprise me that Guy Ritchie wanted to take this project on-board (with hindsight it shouldn't have done, of course, considering that his best films have tended to reflect the same sweaty, knuckle-mashing underbelly of London's criminal fraternity, even if he'd set them at much later periods), it wasn't a shock at all to find that Hans Zimmer would be at the musical helm. Since this film threatened to be big, broad and action-packed, it would offer him plenty to get his rhythmic teeth into. And he doesn't disappoint.

    Rampaging cimbaloms and riotous violins leave you punch-drunk with their giddy and relentless approach to the incident-rife and violent scenario that Holmes and Watson are faced with in gritty old London Town. How he manages to be both playful and amusing, as well as driven, dark and aggressive is often astounding. The twisted, steroid-injected perversion of Anton Karras' famous zither-theme from The Third Man is extremely addictive - which is another extraordinary trait belonging to Zimmer, who, with pulsating ditties for Pirates 2 and 3, Black Hawk Down's Tribal War cue (the full version and not the truncated album version), the main theme for Broken Arrow, the chain-fight from Gladiator, the boisterous main theme from Madagascar and the strenuously massive build-ups from Batman Begins and The Dark Knight (aided and abetted by James Newton Howard), has proved that pulse-pounding, inspiring and memorable rhythms are most certainly his forte. At first, this doesn't seem to be what he is after with a score that is so weirdly compelling, but so mischievously cavalier. On album, the immediate impression is of some sort of period experimentalism. However, in the film, the music starts with one of the most dramatic engagements of the main theme in full-throttle action mode, so this wayward, purposely out of tune approach doesn't materialise quite so readily.

    It is true that violins, banjos and accordions don't immediately spring to mind when musically interpreting the dawn of the industrial and technological age, but Zimmer is being very clever with this irresistible combination - one one level he seems to be providing the voice from the sidelines, that for the gypsies and the country-folk who are standing by and observing the radical changes that are taking place in society, and, on another, he is actually slyly providing just the right sort of grinding, relentless machine-like movement that symbolises the mechanised revolution with lots of huffing, puffing, pushing and sweat-inducing instrumental toil. Thus, his score, as bizarre as it first seems, is very intuitively linked to the era without ever once playing as a cliché or as a pastiche, or to any of the time-honoured conventions of the genre. He creates a magnificent and wilfully humorous theme for Holmes that is partly reminiscent of Jack Sparrow's camp, decadent and hallucinatory motif, and a playful homage to the known facts about the great detective as laid down by his forward-thinking literary creator. Violins cavort in demented patterns to remind us of Holmes' lack of finesse with the instrument, himself, as well as developing a caricature of the hasty synapse-connections being made within his brilliant, but eccentric brain. Zimmer's trademark synths are still in evidence, but they are dialled-down to provide a thematic underscore, a foundation to the darkness of the nefarious Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong), Holmes' nemesis, and to enhance certain instruments along the way. Zimmer is quoted as saying that he wanted this score to sound like “the Pogues in Romania” with a hint of Steptoe and Son (!) and, to a certain degree, that is what he has attained with a work that often seems like some impromptu jamming session in a dockside tavern. Yet this is most assuredly not a disharmonious mess. Quite the reverse, in fact. This is a true talent who has deliberately broken with etiquette and strode bravely out into a realm that ninety-nine percent of composers today would not dare to enter for such a big budget blockbuster as Sherlock Holmes.

    His magnificence here is in seemingly going in a completely atypical direction for scoring a film set in this period, ignoring the lush opulent leanings that many other composers would have opted for and following the off-kilter design of the story's bohemian main character, instead. Thus, we get no sweeping string and brass statements, no grandly operatic set-pieces for chorus and fanfare, no lush warmth and no standardised black-and-white thematic texture. He writes for virtuosos with this score, concocting wild solo passages that allow for maximum creativity and also give himself an opportunity to indulge in drafting-in some esteemed luminaries as Italian bass-player, Diego Stocco, whose unfathomable depths with a custom-built Experibass impressed Zimmer enough to have him pummel it through this score for him, Tina Guo on acoustic and electric cello (she will be performing similar duties for John Debney's Iron Man 2 score), and violinist Alexei Gusteman. Always searching for new sounds with which to mould, meld and mesmerise, Zimmer once again unleashes a musical mishmash of styles and instruments upon a totally unsuspecting audience, but this time the score doesn't feel anywhere as mixed, sampled or manipulated as many of his previous projects have done. He brings in the trilled acoustic guitars that served him well on both Gladiator and Black Hawk Down, and arranges plentiful percussion from often strange and barely invented sources. In some ways this is a decidedly Zimmer score, but in others in marks a sure-fire swing away from his usual template.

    Each track title is a quote from the movie but the cue that they herald does not often reflect the corresponding sequence in the scene that you see on-screen, which can prove a trifle misleading for those intent on following the story's score in chronological order.

    The first track, spectacularly called “Discombobulate”, takes us delightfully into Zimmer's skewed vision of Victoriana, establishing the main theme for Sherlock Holmes that will course throughout the score at large. And, just as a side-note, folks, this track in particular has become the sound in my house over the last week or so. My daughter, not even three years old yet, has taken a devotion to its zany, addictive rhythm and has even devised her own special dance to it - pants hitched-up, bum stuck out, tongue sticking out and stomping about in a warped gypsy march all over the place in perfect time to its madcap beat - and this image is now absolutely indelible in my mind. But, you know what, she's absolutely right. The theme is a real barnstormer that rattles around inside the skull like a deranged shanty. Once there, it may prove impossible to dislodge - good thing, then, that it is as fantastic as it is ingenious. Memories of The Third Man are inevitable. Zimmer is not exactly using a zither like Karas did, but the sound of these delightful acoustic instruments - the accordion, the violins and those remarkable cimbaloms - makes for a truly exotic and Eastern European vibe that conjures up all sorts of imagery and flavours. There is a hint of Dracula's old country in there. There is a deliberate sense of mischief evoked, too. And there is a broad canopy of the avant-garde about how it all comes together. But, as its penetrating beat gains tempo and vigour, there is an unstoppable quality to it that walks a tightrope between both heroism and villainy. In short, it may represent Holmes and Watson but it doesn't actually take any sides at all, adding spice, instead, to the overall plot and the weird atmosphere that both Guy Ritchie and Hans Zimmer are aiming for. Ordinarily, you would struggle to call this kaleidoscopic theme hip, but, in some ways, this is precisely what it winds up being. Ritchie, before this venture, was, like Tarantino, enamoured with stuffing his films with songs to help lend them some cool credentials. This theme, as warped as it is, performs exactly the same trick and becomes the unflappable backbone of the entire score - hummable, toe-tapping and yet kinetically oblique, this is whacked-out carnival funk that you just can't tire of.

    Which is just as well, as Zimmer returns to this motif a lot throughout the score, giving the film a bristly verve that, with subtle variations, can be slowly thoughtful, reflective of inspired deductions taking place, charming and amusing enough to depict the idiosyncratic character of Holmes and the ever-sparking, but obviously closely bonded relationship that exists between himself and Watson, and also to take on a more driven, action-orientated acceleration that works extremely effectively when the boys are on the trail or engaged in fisticuffs. But there is one angle of this theme that is eerily familiar. When slowed-down and allowed to amble with a musically inebriated gait, it sounds just like Ennio Morricone's wonderful signature motif for Jason Robards' character, Cheyenne, in the great Once Upon A Time In The West for Sergio Leone.

    I'll give you the last chocolate Santa off the tree if the start of Track 2 doesn't remind you of Zimmer's coy and devious motif for Commodus from Gladiator as he contemplates doing-away with his Emperor father. “Is it poison, Nanny?” is insidious with slow cimbalom, long-line strings in a semi-recollection of that infamous, one-note Joker sizzle from The Dark Knight, and a drawn-out pulsing that threatens all with a burgeoning darkness. The second half of the track picks up the pace, adding a textural layer from the synth, stabbing bleats of edgy violins, a sudden pounding rush that trips you up and then slides out of the frame as though having shown us part of a secret and then retreated back into the shadows. And then, with a pseudo-wheeze-cum-cough from the cello (electronically enhanced) alongside rapid-squeeze accordion, fiercely drunken fiddles that dance and stagger about in a wildly unhinged Romany circus of party-chaos, we get the delirious and potent squall that is Track 3's “I Never Woke Up In Handcuffs Before”. This is the sort of thing that would, in another world, accompany either a camp-fire dance-off/wrestle between two voluptuous gypsy maidens, a la From Russia With Love, or provide the raucous, swarthy soundtrack to the antics in a haze-filled Eastern bazaar. Deliberately out-of-tune strings screech and a constant yammering on percussion adds to the hypnotic fervour of the short piece. Great, off-the-wall stuff, folks, ensuring the score and the film maintain a wickedly unpredictable air.

    Track 4, “My Mind Rebels At Stagnation” boasts that wonderful solo cello from Tina Guo as the main theme is given a slow rendition at first then, with backing from the rest of Zimmer's ensemble, gains speed and power and becomes the full-fledged motif for a spell. The midway point marks a descent into darkness and depravity. A couple of heavy chords boom down into the depths of the soul, anguished fiddle-playing and a gathering of morose strings then provide a dirge that carries on until the end of the track. This serves to remind that the stakes our duo face are deadly. We have had murders and a dreaded necromancer has apparently risen from the grave. Something terrible is afoot in London. Secret Societies tremble, Scotland Yard is stumped. If Sherlock Holmes can resist his temptation for adopting false noses and serenading flies trapped in glass jars for long enough ... then maybe he, Watson and Hans Zimmer can get to the bottom of this treachery and unravel the mystery once and for all.

    Track 5, “Data, Data, Data” is another dark component that gets woven into the weird tapestry. Playing like a very slow and tantalising gypsy tango, this preens, pouts and pirouettes with a gorgeous solo cello that is decorative, alluring and also suffused with more than a hint of deviousness. Cues like this fly in the face of Zimmer's detractors, offering, as it does, a revealing glimmer of the delicacy that he is so capable of. The next track, amusingly titled “He's Killed The Dog Again”, referring to the poor mutt that Sherlock Holmes tests his anaesthetics, toxins and antidotes upon, is initially select and restrained, offering a lazy, withdrawn variation of the main theme that, once awoken is then cajoled and imbued with a deductive challenge that brings in the cimbalom, electric guitar and Experibass (some deliciously furious plunges from Stocco) and then goes on a swift and relentless beat that also offers, if you listen, some escaping steam, the hooting of a distant train and the reed-soaked clapping of ethnic percussion. The message is clear - it is time for action and the good guys are going to have to get their skates on.

    Thus, things get going at full pelt in “Marital Sabotage” when Zimmer develops that main theme into its busy action-mode. This is what plays during the film's opening sequence as we are introduced to Holmes and Watson whilst they are both on the hoof and going, hell-for-leather after the dastardly Lord Blackwood before he can indulge in some nasty black magic ritual slaughter. A middle-section lull allows you to draw your breath as Holmes, in one of his many terrific before-the-moment visual schematics, works out exactly how to take out an opponent with maximum efficiency and devastation, before proceeding to do exactly that in fine pulverising form once the fast music recommences. Cimbaloms and fiddle, banjo and keyboard work together in a streamlined locomotive-fired tunnel of aggression. You can even hear a sound like the sparking of iron and iron, almost as if the old Iron Horse is thundering down the tracks. Of course, this is equally interpretive of the metalled wheels of the speeding police carriages as they career over the cobbled stones of a dangerous Victorian London. Heavy trilling strings reverberate, beautifully crisp on the album as lurching bass provides an uneven foundation. Zimmer's group must love these strenuously galvanised sessions.

    Now listen to the doom-laced cutting across the strings in “Not in Blood, But In Bond” that rips through the exotic first half of this next track. There is something akin to Christopher Young's terrific Drag Me To Hell score (CD and BD reviewed elsewhere) and even Joseph LoDuca's marvellous music for Christophe Gans' awesome Les Pacte Des Loups (Brotherhood Of The Wolf) about this eloquent and somewhat scarred litany from the provocative fire-lit encampments. As I've mentioned numerous times on the site, I am an ardent fan of werewolf movies and have been looking forward immensely to the forthcoming reinterpretation of The Wolfman (lots of coverage guaranteed for that one, folks) and this is precisely the type of music that would serve the lycanthropic saga well, particularly as it harkens back to the mood of the original 1941 classic which brought in gypsy motifs to great effect. Let's just hope that something in this vein eventually does simmer through the score from Danny Elfman's replacement, Paul Haslinger, for the long-delayed Joe Johnson film. A member of Tangerine Dream as well as a classically trained musician/composer, Haslinger's credentials and MO are similar to Zimmer's ... so, let's hope he has followed suit with his howling symphony.

    “Ah, Putrefaction” is a little cue of moody meandering whimsy. Violins pick up on a line of melancholy towards the end, lending some internal gravity to the piece and deviating from the less serious overtones of the project, or the investigation at large. Whereas Trevor Jones, in his score for the Hughes Bros' take on the Jack The Ripper yarn, From Hell, relied enormously on doom and pain and tragedy to describe the foggy perils of the time and the place, Zimmer is much happier to elevate the squalor and violence of lawless London to something that is altogether more melodic and upbeat, like the tune from a music-box given a vaguely techno-twist. Track 10, “Panic, Shear Bloody Panic” gives us that delightful Morricone/Cheyenne twisting lilt to draw us in, the chords unwinding with finesse before elements of soft percussion patter about in the background. Little phrases from fiddle and keyboard entwine, Zimmer not allowing any one particular hook for the piece in the first part of the track, before then plunging determinedly into the main theme. Insistent and ribald, this theme is now so firmly entrenched in the mood and character of the film, and the album, that it becomes almost reassuring to hear. Yet, as I have already implied, it is not a theme that is strictly for Sherlock Holmes on his own. It seems to embrace both of our detectives as well as the case, itself, becoming the film's theme. Whether this would develop and evolve over subsequent movies, in what I feel certain will become something of a series, obviously remains to be seen. But it captures the volatile atmosphere of London as much as it does the duo's romp through it and, as such, may not travel well. Downey Jnr and Law have already stated that they would like the next story to take place abroad. But who knows? Jack Sparrow's theme, or rather the Pirates theme that Zimmer had such a heavy hand in creating ran and ran, adopting a slight metamorphosis with each successive outing - so why can't this?

    The whole album's circle of themes then comes together in the dynamic and super-charged Track 11, “Psychological Recovery ... 6 Months” (referring to the results that the damage from a well put-together system of attack can wreak upon an enemy), which runs for a glorious 18 minutes. Together with James Horner, Zimmer is adept at, and highly motivated for, producing good old fashioned overtures (or suites as some people like to proclaim them these days) that bring his scores to a rousing finale. He may use ultra-modern methods, but Zimmer's approach differs very little from the more traditionalist Horner and, as far as most composers working these days are concerned, the two are pretty much unique in applying this flamboyant style to their score albums. With Avatar, to use the parallel once more, Horner went all-out with his phenomenal track entitled War, and it is with this eclectic combination of main theme, suspense, action, dread and aftermath all rolled into one long composition that Zimmer brings out the big guns and literally hurtles us through what is not only much the climactic activities of the film, per se, but a successive wallop of all of his Sherlock Holmes motifs shot through with even more energy and wit and perhaps some of the cocaine that the great detective so clearly indulges in - even if the film is clever enough not to show it.

    This is magnificent stuff, indeed.

    Early portions, like vignettes, ramp-up the tension. Zimmer fades these out, individually, before the big charge comes on in earnest. The Cheyenne-riff makes another appearance and we get some of those Irish pipes that feature a lot more in the movie than they do on this album, but once we hit the 3-minute mark, the pace is upped and the main theme enters the fray. Zimmer is still teasing us, though. Still playing. Deep chords of dread, signifying the evil scheme of Lord Blackwood and his cronies, swell and roil beneath it and then, with agitated violins, rolling drums and the emphasis from a heavy doom-laden piano, he unfolds a section of grave concern. The fate of a nation, if not the world balance, is in jeopardy. Holmes and Watson and Rachel McAdams' canny rogue, Irene Adler, are the only ones who can save us now. Oh, and Hans Zimmer with one of the most exciting and unusual pieces of music that he has ever come up with. Brazenly now, the main theme returns, much deeper and more demonstrative than before. Sturmm and Drang is written large across the score as, on the screen, Victorian London is given a darkly dank CG makeover and a scaffold-rife and uncompleted Tower Bridge and the baddie-infested cellars beneath the Houses of Parliament become the scene for a bizarre battle between good and evil. Guy Ritchie goes intensely Michael Bay for a rollicking finale of pugilistic skirmishes, breakneck chases and perilous predicaments and Zimmer runs right alongside him. Listen to how he incorporates his own riff on the Westminster Chimes, or as Zimmer calls it, the Big Ben Theme, at around the 8.30 minute mark. This is ravishing and incredibly enjoyable to listen to. The crazed banjo twiddles away in the background, the violins, acting as a squadron, strike up the Chimes for a section that rockets along with undeniable suspense and tremendous momentum. It is impossible not be excited by this electrifying combination. Tick-tocking with a steady, pulse-pounding rhythm, this passage is highly rewarding and slightly cheeky at the same time. The Chimes melody, itself, may even go unnoticed by many people but once you have, ahem, clocked it, the little tune, repeated several times, becomes the shining gemstone in this unorthodox riot-mix of unstoppable insanity. Directly after it, we rear into energised strings and those sizzling African guitars. Victorian London becomes an even more demented Gotham in Zimmer's hands, the race against time - literally portrayed by the music as well - gathers even more steam, bruising its way through you and any obstacle you place in its way. A pause in this once unforgiving drive suddenly occurs, wrong-footing you as the track then sidles in to an eerie, dislocated and ghostly violin phrase of shock and fatality, staggering in its pregnant depth. But then a last chaotic and dynamic section ensues, jangling percussion and furious Black Hawk Down-style trilling guitars drag you towards what is the last stretch of action. Zimmer's drums and synth ripple out into a quiet rattle of cimbalom and soft piano. And the track allows only one last string-led surge to invest it with the sense of victory and the cost that may have been paid to win it.

    Catatonie, the final track on the album, begins with a weird, tuba-inflated dissection of the first notes of the main theme, before puzzling its way into a sombre treatise that acts, in a very 17th Century manner, that unique cimbalom and violin combination sounding like a harpsichord, just as a cathartic easing-down of the mayhem that has preceded it. For the most part, this is delicate and restrained, and you can't help but assume that Zimmer's highly infectious main theme is going to infiltrate this section too. But it doesn't. Instead, Zimmer bows out the album and the score with a punishing headlong rush of pugilistic strings ducking and weaving. A brilliant undercurrent of charging bass adds to the vibrant and nervous energy that we have been swept along with and the cue then gallops to the finale of what has been a truly remarkable and offbeat score that just cries out for repeat listenings.

    Performed by a relatively small ensemble as opposed to a more conventional large-piece orchestra (Zimmer mostly prefers this sort of small-scale intensity), the score for Sherlock Holmes actually fits into an evolutionary path set by Zimmer's thematically Irish “An Everlasting Piece” (2000) and the much more recent “Angels and Demons” which is somewhat recalled by the quieter, more restrained moments found here. This represents a dark, yet surprisingly jovial facet to his repertoire and highly exciting twist on conventional action fare.

    Now, as with Avatar, that other great score release that came blitzkrieging its way in at the end of 2009, this first release is shorn of some music. Ritchie's two-hour-plus movie has music running through most of it, but we only get 52 minutes of score on this album. Arguably, all the major themes are present and correct, Watson, but it doesn't take much deduction to realise that some of the wacky Irish tunes and shanties are missing, as well as some elements of underscore. Knowing how Zimmer operates, though, gives us some cause for optimism and I wouldn't mind wagering that a fuller version will be available one day. And even if this does not arrive via the official avenue, then I am absolutely positive that it will surface from another route. As with Gladiator and Black Hawk Down, I would love to hear the session recordings, alternates and demos for this score. Zimmer has a wonderful way of getting his performers to really go for it and to hear them gypsy-thrashing this stuff out would be remarkable.

    I can't help but recommend this through and through. Unusual, beguiling, very funny and extremely exciting. Just like the film, then.

    Full Track Listing

    1. Discombobulate (2:25)

    2. Is It Poison, Nanny? (2:53)

    3. I Never Woke Up In Handcuffs Before (1:44)

    4. My Mind Rebels At Stagnation (4:31)

    5. Data, Data, Data (2:15)

    6. He's Killed The Dog Again (3:15)

    7. Marital Sabotage (3:44)

    8. Not In Blood, But In Bond (2:13)

    9. Ah, Putrefaction (1:50)

    10. Panic, Shear Bloody Panic (2:38)

    11. Psychological Recovery... 6 Months (18:18)

    12. Catatonie (6:44)


    One of the most surprising and downright enjoyable scores that I've heard in years, Hans Zimmer's music for Sherlock Holmes plays out like turn-of-the-century thrash-session. Romany-noodlings, twisted Victorian grunge and a whacked-out charm that explodes any staid qualities and restrictions that a period piece usually calls for. He creates something that is quirky and humorous, left-field and hugely vibrant. He can't quite avoid a similarity in tonal eccentricity to Captain Jack Sparrow with his outside-the-box characterisation of Holmes and his comical/tense encapsulation of the scenarios that he and Watson find themselves in, but this is still a very novel and highly unorthodox approach that is immensely stylish and thoroughly entertaining.

    Some virtuoso performances celebrate this avant-garde approach and provide plenty of character and nuance. With momentum and drive given a wicked boost courtesy of such unusual instrumentation, this Holmesian yarn gets a steroid-packed shot in the arm. As with James Horner and his score for Avatar, there is nothing here that will win-over Zimmer's detractors. Although definitely different from his normal massively synth-mixed routine, this still plays out with an inevitably anachronistic sensibility that they will find irritating and too “out there” for what they consider to be a faithful Sherlock Holmes adventure. For me, and for Zimmer's fans, I'm sure, this presents a very satisfying departure in theme and texture that is breathlessly exciting and full of highly amusing asides, as well as one supremely addictive main theme that may well come to be the most memorable of the year.

    An absolute winner, my dear Watson.

    The Rundown





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