If you enjoyed the pseudo-modern take on the film, you may just enjoy this symphonic romp through London.
Buy it... if, despite some late action material that resurrects The Peacemaker, you seek Hans Zimmer at his most humorous and instrumentally creative, inspiring a much fuller expansion of the quirky character in his 2000 score for An Everlasting Piece.
Avoid it... if somewhere between an Irish pub, a gypsy folk band, and a Romanian orchestra exists your worst nightmare, because the off-kilter movement of Zimmer's themes and unconventional solo performances may reside outside of the comfort zone for many of his collectors.
Sherlock Holmes: (Hans Zimmer/Lorne Balfe) After hundreds of screen adaptations of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's famed stories about the detective Sherlock Holmes, one was bound to eventually depict the battles that the title character would always refer to in one of his quips about escaping death. That incarnation was eventually pushed by Warner Brothers, which saw Guy Richie's Sherlock Holmes as a potential sister franchise to the rebooted Batman series.
Learn more about
Although Zimmer does start to explore some secondary ideas in earnest in the latter half of Sherlock Holmes, the score is dominated by its memorable title theme. It's not memorable in terms of progression (in fact, it could drive a person nuts to the same degree as some of Danny Elfman's 1980's inventions), but rather very off-kilter in both its plucky, staggered progressions and dismissal of easy harmonic lines. Its division into a series of paired notes related to key makes it easy to adapt into several different situations as fragments of the whole. The theme is given its formal introduction in "Discombobulate" and eventually develops into a more conventional action theme by the climactic battle sequence. That major cue near the end of the film (a whopping 18 minutes long on album) is easily the highlight of the score, in part because of the composer's brutal adaptation of the Westminster Chimes melody (which anyone with a traditional grandfather clock will recognize, but of which Londoners are especially privy) to reinforce the location of the fight. Turned into a monumental bass-region procession in the minor key at about four and eight minutes into "Psychological Recovery... 6 Months," this melody and its overbearing tone are comedy in and of themselves. Only if Zimmer had been able to retain its major-key origins could the cue have been any more tongue-in-cheek. The other secondary themes in the score are short-changed on album, a lovely romantic idea on uncharacteristically high strings in "Ah, Putrefaction" too brief to really appreciate. Overall, despite the originality in instrumentation and tone in Sherlock Holmes, it's still easily identifiable as a Zimmer work. "What happens if you write a Weimar Republic score for Sherlock Holmes?" the composer asked at the outset. Ultimately, the bass region is still the emphasis, the quirkiness has been hinted at by Zimmer before, and you'll find yourself reminded of other Zimmer works more often than you might think. Between the bizarre title theme and obnoxiously comedic cues like "I Never Woke Up in Handcuffs Before," Sherlock Holmes is far from the smoothest of listening experiences, begging for at least some rearrangement to seek the more robust ensemble performances of the title theme (as in "My Mind Rebels at Stagnation" and "Panic, Shear Bloody Panic"). The commercial CD release, which excludes the Dubliners' Irish music, offered the perk of a 5.1 surround sound version of the score available via download, a format that only serves to enhance the bass region even further. It's odd to imagine that Zimmer could take all of these delightful constructs and solo elements and mould them into a score with so little dynamic range, and this dwelling in the depths continues to be the composer's calling card and Achilles heel.