Film scores

Soundtrack review : Terminator : Genisys (Lorne Balfe -2015)

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One of my most beloved franchises and one of my favorite composers… this sounds like a dream combination. I am one of those who love the fact that the movies he grew up with are still going on today, and a new Terminator is just what the doctor ordered. I love this franchise; I consider the first two movies among my favorites ever. I also enjoyed, unlike most, the two later sequels and I even rewatch “Salvation” with pleasure. “Genisys” marks the return of Arnie to one of his iconic roles and I can’t wait to see the movie. Trailer looked good and I always liked the fact that no matter who wrote or directed a Terminator movie respected the mythology and the previous installments. There’s always been a sense of continuity and order even in the chaotic world of this franchise and from the looks of it this fifth movie will be a delight for fans of the original story. Lorne Balfe wrote the score and it is one of my most anticipated releases of this year. Lorne is on a hot streak in 2015, he’s already had 7 scores, all of them different, all of them rewarding and I can’t wait to hear what he did with this one. What I do know is that my expectations are high and that there are some things I know I want to hear.
One of them is the opening cue “Fate and hope”. This is a story about going back in time, destiny, changing the future and recapturing the past and this is a cue I hadn’t heard until now but I knew I was going to. This is for me the essence of a cue that deals with time travel and fate. It has the determination of making a decision and the searing melancholy of knowing what you want to change and relive. It has that sound that made John Ottman’s “X-men: Days of future past” so powerful with its “Hope” theme. It also has a buildup that reminds me of “The dark knight” and I am in love with this score from hello.
“Better days” makes my heart tremble and helps me wave to my younger self who first heard the original Brad Fiedel scores. Just as the new Terminator is a more polished and better build version of the first one so this cue takes the legendary Fiedel sound and brings it to 2015 while still keeping its essence intact. This adds nostalgia to this score and helps me connect it with years of memories and countless emotions I’ve felt while listening to the Terminator music. “Work camp” continues the plunge into the appealing darkness of this universe with a powerful percussion sound that goes hand in hand with what’s been the score of the year so far, Tom Holkenberg’s “Mad Max: Fury Road”. Go team Hans! I want to take this sound home and sit it at the dinner table with me and spend hours reminiscing with it.
The adrenaline rush I get from this score I almost too much and I wasn’t expecting a score to touch me like this so soon after “Max Mad”. The action parts are scintillating and move at an insane pace. And once the action takes a break we get a cue like “Sarah & Kyle” the theme for these two iconic characters which opens with a heartbreaking string motif modified so it doesn’t lose touch with the Terminator sound. I need to close my eyes to be able to focus on the storm of emotions that come over me when I hear this theme. Memories, desires, nostalgia and hope for a better future all come at me from different direction as Lorne continues to masterfully weave the Terminator essence into the fabric of his score. There are those metal clanks, those electrical sparks that will make sure you know what you are listening to. Hearing this score makes me so happy and grateful and I don’t want it to end. This is what I’ve been waiting for. This is Lorne; this is what a great composer sounds like. The Terminator movie 25 years from now will draw inspiration from the “Genisys” music for sure and we will all know it. The power and grandeur of this score will be remembered.
I love how Lorne uses just the echo of the original Terminator theme in “It’s really me”. It’s like a message from the Terminator sound to us the listeners. And of course, Lorne’s full take on that theme in the final cue of this score, “Terminated”… which explodes with the force of the earliest film and film music memories. This is what we came here for.
I could go cue by cue and this review would never be over. But you should discover the surprises and the gifts of this score by yourselves. If you loved how Mad Max sounded, if hearing a motif from any of the Transformers scores brings happy memories (I’m looking at you, “John Connor” theme and “If you love me you die”) and if you are a fan of the Terminator sound and what to see it brought into the future by one of the most talented composers around, run and grab this score then cancel all your plans and enjoy these 71 minutes of pounding action and heart wrenching emotion. Lorne manages to mix old with new and warm with metal cold like a wizard and a lot of times while listening to this score I had the feeling of looking at one of those hologram promotional posters for the movie which show you Arnie both with his human and terminator face depending on your viewing angle. This score has the same wonderful duality and I will listen to it many times in the future. Or did I already hear it in my past…? The battle between Lorne and Michael Giacchino for composer of the year rages on, and we the fans are the winners.

Cue rating: 98 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 65 / 72

Album excellence: 91%

Highlights:
Fate and Hope
Better Days
Work Camp
Bus Ride
Sarah & Kyle
Alley Confrontation
Sarah Kicks Ass
Cyberdyne
Still After Us
Come With Me
John Connor
It’s Really Me
Alcove
I Am More
If You Love Me You Die(
Judgement Day
Family
Sacrifice
What If I Can’t?
Terminated

About the author

Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

2 Comments

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    • It is very hard to choose. The impact of Sacrifice is powerful and it’s been the one I replayed the most, true. It’s between “Sacrifice” and “Faith and hope” because that opening floored me. Of course, the best is still “Terminated”, right? 🙂 since it’s the original theme..