Hans Zimmer does crop up in the most unexpected places; and seeing his name attached to this German film about the 16th century French King Henri IV is most unexpected! The film was briefly released in cinemas in Germany and has been shown on television in France, but that’s as much info as I can find. Henri IV’s reign was a tumultuous time, dominated by religious wars, an end to the civil war and ultimately assassination – just the kind of ripe territory on which a film composer ought to be able to thrive. However – while Zimmer may crop up in the most unexpected places, there is rarely anything unexpected about his music. The credit here is shared between him and Henry Jackman (given it’s a smaller film, presumably the latter actually did the bulk of it) – and, in the Remote Control way, this one went through the “religious” template, meaning it is very much a successor to the score for The Da Vinci Code.
There are two key differences – first, there are no memorable themes. It’s not just that there’s no “Chevaliers de Sangreal” here, the moments when the score is obviously trying to conjure up the same sort of sound are simply bland and forgettable. Second, there are a load more electronics – and while there’s nothing inherently wrong in using electronics in the score for a film set in 16th century France, if you’re not careful then there’s every chance the music is going to sound like it would be more at home in The Peacemaker – and they weren’t careful. The drum loops and samples are just so lazy, used so unimaginatively – if they were in a contemporary thriller they’d still sound lazy and unimaginative, but would at least seem to be a little more at home. Ultimately, Henry 4‘s biggest problem is simply that it’s so boring – even the few moments when it stirs itself into life are rather limp equivalents of tracks that have been done far better in other Zimmer scores. *