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Batman Forever

Track List:
  1. Main Titles & Fanfare 1:50
  2. Perpetuum Mobile :54
  3. The Perils of Gotham 3:01
  4. Chase Noir 1:45
  5. Fledermausmarschmusik 1:15
  6. Nygma Variations (An Ode to Science) 6:02
  7. Victory 2:37
  8. Descent 1:07
  9. The Pull of Regret 2:50
  10. Mouth to Mouth Nocturne 2:14
  11. Gotham City Boogie 2:07
  12. Under the Top 5:42
  13. Mr. E's Dance Card
    (Rhumba, Foxtrot, Waltz & Tango) 3:21
  14. Two-Face Three Step 2:20
  15. Chase Blanc 1:23
  16. Spank Me! Overture 2:46
  17. Holy Rusted Metal 1:51
  18. Batterdammerung 1:21

Total Time: (44:11)

Composition: Elliot Goldenthal

Orchestration: Robert Elhai, Elliot Goldenthal, David John Olsen, Michael McQuistion, Lolita Ritmanis, Randy Kerber and Shirley Walker

Conducting: Jonathan Sheffer

After excellent reception to the first score and mixed reception to the sequel, Tim Burton had left the directorial chores to Joel Shumacher who had replaced one of my least favorite composers, Danny Elfman, with one of my favorite composers, Elliot Goldenthal, who had previously gained notoriety for his controversial score for Alien3. Schumacher had asked Goldenthal to use Elfman's main theme from the previous two films, but the composer convinced him that the gothic tones of the previous films would not work the comic silliness of the latest flick in the series. The director agreed and a new Batman theme was born, and though not nearly as popular as the original, it sounds similar and is quite good.

In keeping with his opinion of the comic book style of the movie, Goldenthal wrote his score to be as loud and silly as Elfman's were dark and gothic. The effect is quite mesmerizing, enchanting and sometimes nerve racking. My personal favorite sections of the score are the villain themes. Jim Carrey's character, the Riddler has a particularly zany theme heard in many forms in the single track, "Nygma Variations," but the true accomplishment of the album is the mad pounding waltz for Tommy Lee Jones' character the "Two-Face Three Step."

Similar the Elfman's score for the first Batman film is the ending "Batterdammerung." It follows a huge build in orchestrations and brass power up to a fantastic conclusion. I appreciate this as a nice continuity between the entire series.

Unfortunately this movie was plagued by a ridiculous boatload of horrid pop music, and as a result Goldenthal was unable to compose an end title, which would have created some much needed closure had it had a chance to exist. It's unfortunate movies like this that hurt the reception of film music. The entire score was around two hours long, but the album is rather short at just about forty-five minutes. Fortunately Goldenthal picked the best music from the entire score to be on the album.

Though many people hate this score (which I'll never understand why), I love it, and I recommend it to everyone. Though people who seem to constantly dislike the work of Goldenthal will put this down with all of their abilities, I'd hope that most would see through the unwaranted detraction and enjoy such a wonderful soundtrack.

Track TitleTrack AnalysisRating
1. Main Titles and FanfareWhile many fans of the original Batman scores by Elfman were nearly infuriated by Goldenthal's abandonment of the original theme, after listening to this, one can hardly deny that this is acutally superior. Not only is it more original (Elfman's theme was basically a lift from Bernard Herrman's Journey to the Center of the Earth), it is acutally a superior composition. This is very Wagnerian and powerful, not to mention highly addictive. I can be caught humming the theme all the time, something that doesn't often happen with Elfman's theme. When the main title actually appears, Goldenthal's trademark horn calls announce a spectacular opening.9/10
2. Perpetuum MobileThis zany track is played when Batman meets up with Two-Face's cronies for the first time. Snippets of the main theme are played under wild, racing strings. About half-way through, a very weird synth "wobbling" effect is added.8/10
3. The Perils of GothamThe title of this track says it all. This is when the people of the city look on as Two-Face carries a huge bank vault away under a helicopter and Batman is carried along for the ride. This track is the first to introduce the theme for the insane "men" that "are" Two-Face. Goldenthal's typical pitchbending brass makes an appearance before the main theme and fanfare are played shortly and the growling low brass takes over for a while and the track fades out.7.5/10
4. Chase NoirThe music for Dr. Chase Meridian is a quiet reworking of the main theme (actually, all of the themes are based on a single, descending four-note motif). This particular track has a harmon-muted trumpet to add a little bit of sleazy flavor to the mix.7/10
5. Fleder maus marsch musikI just love the track titles on this CD (this one is called flying mouse march music in German). This is basically a straight-forward and very powerful version of Batman's theme. It's not entirely important, but it is fun to listen to none-the-less.8/10
6. Nygma Variations (An Ode to Science)The primary showcase for the dastardly Riddler's theme actually begins with a few seconds of what I've always considered to be the "Bruce Wayne" motif. The music here is of course insane and completely demented, and it basically gets zanier and zanier until it has no further to go. Goldenthal adds a lot of different synthesizers and keyboards to spice it up. The true hilarity of the track is in the use of the theremin, the instrument used in sci-fi movies of the 1950s. When the track has reached its peak, the theremin blairs loudly accompanied by a completely madcap wailing performance by a solo soprano vocal. Oh, yeah. One part reminds me of Khatchaturian's "Sabre Dance." Overall, you'd be wacky :) to miss this frighteningly odd cue.9/10
7. VictoryThis cue wastes no time in slapping you in the face with a loud 4/4 version of Two-Face's theme. After a few seconds however, a triumphant and ultra-fast version of Batman's theme breaks out. Dissonance and horn calls break through anyway but the victorious fanfare bursts out once more and gains power as it goes until the climax of the track8/10
8. DescentThis is more fairly straight-forward playing of the main theme as Bruce makes his way to the Bat Cave via a tunnel under his office at work. This is assisted by very pronounced synth.7/10
9. The Pull of RegretThis starts out with over a minute of rather non-descript string writing, but in the last minute dissonance prevails as young Bruce Wayne, for the first time, falls into a cave only to see a bat flying towards him. We all know that this is to be the symbol of how he will fight crime in the future.6.5/10
10. Mouth to Mouth NocturneThis is more "Chase" music, as Batman more-than-less clashes with the good doctor, their individual themes kind of quietly duke it out in a battle for dominance (which coincides with the nature of Bruce and Chase's relationship in the film).6.5/10
11. Gotham City BoogieThis is probably the only completely unnessessary track on the CD. This is really no more than a reprise of "Perpetuum Mobile", only without the synths that made that particular track so memorable. Still, this is fun enough to listen to. Just don't expect anything new to be introduced here.6/10
12. Under the TopOnce again, I petition you to notice the title of the track (it's really funny if you realize just what it implies, because the track, like the movie, is just the opposite). This begins with an ecstatic fanfare, soon cut off by pounding drums which are augmented by blairing Goldenthalian horn calls. This quiets eventually into a soft version of the main theme that fades completely away. When the sound builds back up again, evil brass fanfares rise seemingly out of nowhere, these fanfares herald demented carnival music (which, I might add, sounds much better than Elfman's similar work from Batman Returns) leading up to Two-Face's sinister entrance. When the villain's theme finally shows up it builds until it hits a huge slamming arrangement. As the madman goes through his tirade, so do the carnivalesque orchestral sounds. After a couple minutes, the music quiets down and gets very sombre as Dick Grayson realizes that his family has been killed by Two-Face. Once again, this is a track that *absolutely* should not be missed.9/10
13. Mr. E's Dance Card (Rhumba, Foxtrot, Waltz & Tango)This fun track goes through more variations on the Riddler's theme, though they are nowhere near as wild or mischievous as the ones heard in "Nygma Variations." The track title itself describes the different types of arrangements the theme goes through. Unfortunately I think that the tango section takes up too much of the track's time. I would rather have heard more the the upbeat stuff because I really like the way it starts out, especially the Foxtrot. The waltz is by far the slowest section. The track ends on a rather unfulfilling sustained bass note.7.5/10
14. Two-Face Three StepThis is my second favorite track, a fairly straight-forward waltz version of Two-Face's theme. Unlike the waltz version of the Riddler's theme in the previous track, this is actually very upbeat. In fact, the theme starts out pounding madly as it did near the center of the "Under the Top" track. If you pay attention you'll notice that the time is actually altered in several places here, which only adds to the track's effectiveness. Oddly enough, the music ends very abruptly.9.5/10
15. Chase BlancI'd have to say that tracks involving doctor Meridian actually do little for me. This track is not much more than quiet string ambience, and though it is effective in the context of the film, on CD it fails to hold my interest.6/10
16. Spank Me! OvertureEasily my favorite track, this "overture" plays as the two primary villains of the movie invade Bruce's house and kidnap Dr. Meridian. It begins very loudly and eventually makes use of crazy versions of the Riddler's theme similar to those used in the "Nygma Variations" track as the Green-clad menace makes short work of the sadly under-protected bat cave. After a while, Two-Face's theme takes the place of the Riddler's as the bifacial one actually shoots at Bruce and grazes his forehead. The music builds into a huge wall of sound as Two-Face gets up and a gigantic drum cadence slams away as he dances over to finish Bruce off, but is stopped just in time by the Riddler, who wishes to continue the suffering of our hero (typical idiotic villainy, huh? He's practically *begging* Bruce to be just fine and save the day!). 9.5/10
17. Holy Rusted MetalThis begins with dissonance, but the main theme takes over quickly and stays fairly strong until the end of the track.6.5/10
18. BatterdammerungThis starts off by *whamming* on a huge bass note which soon turns everything over to a surging victory fanfare. The music keeps building and building until it reaches unimaginable power and eventually is suddenly silenced by a loud percussion hit which finally closes the CD in a big blaze of glory. An astonishing and completely fullfilling way to end the soundtrack.9/10

Batman Forever is copyright 1995 Atlantic Records. This review is written by and is the property of Isaac Engelhorn and does not reflect the opinions of Tripod.