MP3: Fantastic Four (2015)

September 7, 2015 | By


FantasticFour2015Score: Excellent

Label: Sony Classical

Released:  August 11, 2015

Tracks / Album Length:  25 tracks / (66:20)

Composer: Marco Beltrami, Philip Glass

Special Notes:  n/a




The question certainly begs, seeing the names of Philip Glass and Marco Beltrami attached to a comic book action film: What the heck does a score sound like when the two composers come from very different generational backgrounds?

Beltrami’s prior collaboration with Marilyn Manson on Resident Evil (2002) worked out swimmingly, as the two found common ground in developing themes and motifs with hard industrial synth sounds, and Glass found a similar balance in scoring Secret Window (2004) with Geoff Zanelli, resulting in a small, elegant thriller score that transcended the film’s loopy twist and denouement.

Director Josh Trank wanted Glass to score Fantastic Four (the director reported in an interview that he often plays Glass in the background when writing scripts), and Beltrami seemed logical in adding more oomph to action scenes, since his C.V.of late features music from several action franchises, including the Die Hards, the Terminators, and the Underworlds.

Fantastic Four isn’t a full blending of styles – much like the famous collaboration between silver screen greats Alfred Newman and Bernard Herrmann on The Egyptian (1954), one can often pinpoint the dominant style or who tackled a scene outright – but there is indeed a balance, as Glass seemed charged with establishing main themes and the central rhythms in the score’s prelude, while Beltrami initially accented the former’s material with thicker synth bass, deeper brass, and his recurring use of churning, blurring strings.

Glass’s music is actually quite playful, and sets up character intros with a certain mystique, conveying tenderness with glockenspiele, harp, and lovely oboe, whereas Beltrami seems to have fed off Glass’ minimalism by applying doses of modernism at certain junctures, such as the chromatic brass in “Run” reminiscent of Leonard Rosenman (especially his score for The Car), and creates some really weird brass effects, like the cue’s finale where the instruments sound like their being folded in half (with musicians in mid-play).

Much of the score’s centre features a mix of slowly rendered themes preceding action tracks, such as “Launch One,” which also makes use of an echoing two-note motif akin to Goldmsith’s Alien (1979). Beltrami’s closing percussion is dark and grim, but it’s contrasted with warm melodic material that often harkens back to a 1950s sensibility – perhaps a signal that the two composers chose to feature steady contrasts between romantic heroism (as in the beginning of the very pretty “Neill Armstrong”) and industrial modernism (“Ben’s Drop”).

One of the score’s more interesting action cues is “He’s Awake” which flows between sound design and score, starting with a tonal breath of reverberating bass and faint, sustained brass chords, and a fast acceleration to a steady pulse and fast-moving brass sounds that are soon drenched in grotty electronic feedback. “Strength in Numbers” is large-scale orchestral, and has shades of classical Hollywood scoring, with strings and chorals, and thunderous percussion which shore up cyclical reiterations of the score’s heroic main theme.

The frenzied action is quickly diluted and replaced with a slowly evolving theme variation for the “End Titles,” building towards a crescendo with Glass’s cyclical patterns on watery keyboards before a huge orchestral blast (that’s more than a little Herrmannesque in its harmonics).

Trank’s instincts in pairing Glass with Beltrami paired off in what’s the most unique collaboration between two generations of composers for a comic book film, giving it gravitas, and doses of classical drama by threading together aspects of minimalism, modernism, and maybe faint dollops of Herrmann and Goldsmith.



© 2015 Mark R. Hasan



Additional Links:
Editor’s Blog — Composers on IMDB: Beltrami / Glass  —  Composer Filmographies: Beltrami / Glass —  Soundtrack Album

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