Film scores

Soundtrack review: Fantastic four (Marco Beltrami and Philipp Glass – 2015)

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“Fantastic four” is one more superhero movie to get excited about. I admit, it’s my favorite genre and there can never be too many movies, characters or universes too big. Bring them on! I remember enjoying the first couple of incarnations of the “Fantastic four” mostly because of the cast. I liked all the actors and I had fun watching them even of the scripts weren’t as enjoyable as those of subsequent marvel movies. I will see this one as soon as it comes out because while the cast is unknown, the script will surely be worth it. The most intriguing thing about this movie though is the choice of composers: Marco Beltrami, one of the most skilled chameleons of film music and mysterious minimalistic piano genius Philip Glass, one of my favorite artists. I have huge expectations from this one and I hope they will not hurt the score…

The dynamic of the two composers and styles is set right from the prelude. Beltrami’s action pulses penetrate the misty and deceitful veil of Philip Glass piano and stabbing string motifs. I can see the birth of some superheroes right there. The music has a way of creating vortexes, black holes, freak occurrences and I am sucked into this world.

“Baxter” is the first true superhero moment and I recognize in there the “Marvel” sound. I hear it in almost every score, regardless of the composer. It’s a buildup towards the epic, an upward spiral of sounds and horns that are meant to inspire. That’s just the intro because Philipp Glass takes over then. To me, Marco Beltrami took care of the tough exterior and super powers of the heroes while Glass was in charge of musically describing what lies inside those complex characters. Beltrami is the superhero power to Glass’ human base. The two styles are easily recognizable and yet they work very well together.

I find myself being drawn more to the Philip Glass motifs. They liven up the score and add an extra touch to that superhero sound we all know so well. In fact, his interventions are the only thing that might set this score apart from other similar ones. Too bad they are few and scattered because the music could have used more of his influence. The thing that made the prelude so brilliant, that heroic buildup is repeated quite often until it loses some of its appeal.

We have been spoiled with gorgeous superhero scores these past few years, especially from Marvel. Just recently I was blown away by Christophe Beck’s “Ant-man”. Lorne Balfe’s “Terminator: Genisys” was also special and memorable. In comparison to those, “Fantastic four” falls short. It is enjoyable and it gets the job done but there are no memorable moments. Whenever something seems to be brewing it stops before becoming great. I didn’t get frustrated while listening to it but I’ve heard this score many times and Marco Beltrami’s effort gets lost in the sea of similar sounds.

“Fantastic four” ends up for me as a onetime only listen. All I am left with are a few pieces of broken glass…

Cue rating: 80 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 22 / 72

Album excellence: 30%

Highlights:

Fantastic Four Prelude

Baxter

Building the future

Run

Pursuit

Strength in numbers

 

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).

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