'Rango' Soundtrack Review: Hans Zimmer Ventures West

Rango soundtrack review

Hans Zimmer is one of the film industry's most prized composers today, but he doesn't just score Hollywood blockbusters like Inception and Sherlock Holmes. He also spends much of his time creating music for animated films. The upcoming Gore Verbinski animated Western, Rango, will be the next film to feature Zimmer's work.

Anti-Records was kind enough to give us an advance copy of the score, which also features original songs from Los Lobos and other artists. The soundtrack is a balanced mix of Zimmer's Western-inspired score and Los Lobos' comedic songs.

While some of Zimmer's animated film work is somewhat forgettable (compared to his other work), Rango arguably features some of his best work - as of late. We'll have to wait until next summer to hear what Zimmer cooks up for The Dark Knight Rises, but he did announce it would be "extraordinarily epic."

If you purchase the Rango soundtrack on March 1st (its digital release date), you might notice a hodgepodge of Zimmer's previous compositions. It isn't a surprise when composers draw inspiration from their prior works - just listen to James Horner's Avatar score and you'll hear similarities to Troy and Titanic. In Rango, Zimmer sprinkles some of the most powerful moments from Pirates of the Caribbean, Broken Arrow, and Sherlock Holmes.

Hans Zimmer Rango score

It's not a bad thing to bring in bits and pieces of those three scores to create a new soundtrack for Rango. The mashup of the three, along with a driving Western motif, makes for one heck of an original score. Anyone familiar with Ennio Morricone's work might get a familiar sensation when listening to Zimmer's latest project. It wouldn't be the first time he's done it - fans might remember his audio homage in the Parlay scene of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. He practically plucks that cue from the score and injects it into a pivotal sequence in Rango.

It's easy to distinguish Zimmer's work from the rest. There is one track that brings both Zimmer and Los Lobos together in an ode to a pair of classic films (Apocalypse Now and 2011: A Space Odyssey) with a mashup of Ride of the Valkyries and An Der Schonen Blauen Donau, Op. 314. Of course, until the film releases on March 4th, we won't know if the movie itself acknowledges those films - or if its simply a musical tip of the cap.

Los Lobos are a well-known group that bring their Norteño style to the soundtrack with original recordings. The song in the trailer was one such track, suggesting they may make an animated cameo as instrument-toting owls.

Los Lobos Rango soundtrack

The Rango soundtrack is definitely worth a purchase for any soundtrack (as well as music) fans. It shows off the film's range as an epic Western and a comedic movie for families. On top of the music, there are nice transitions that include dialogue from the film, all of which is pretty funny. Even though the film releases at an inopportune time for awards recognition next year, it continues to impress even before its release. We may be talking about Rango for a long time, or it might be this year's Shutter Island - a great film lost in the shuffle due to a poor release date.

Rango releases in theaters on March 4th, but the soundtrack is available digitally on March 1st. It will also be available in stores on Match 15th.

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