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The Fantastic Four (Marco Beltrami and Philip Glass)

August 26, 2015

Cover_TheFantasticFourTHE FANTASTIC FOUR

Marco Beltrami & Philip Glass, 2015, Sony Music
26 tracks, 66:17

A most interesting concept: Philip Glass and Marco Beltrami working together on a super-hero movie. Is it the collaboration of the century?

Review by Pete Simons

What is it?

Next in the Marvel moviethon is “Fantastic Four”. Again – I hear you ask. Yes, apparently so. Josh Trank, of the sci-fi movie “Chronicle”, is directing. A fairly unknown cast is present. Dan Castellaneta’s name stands out (the voice behind many Simpsons’ characters, including Homer and Barney). I doubt he’s got a large role to play in this epic blockbuster, but I struggle to find anything more interesting to say about it.

Oh, the music! It’s Philip Glass. What – I hear you ask. Indeed, Glass lends his unique voice to this movie. Marco Beltrami is also present to ‘beef up’ that unique voice and add his own. Glass’ contribution is unmistakable (and present in many cues), but in the end… it’s mostly a Beltrami score.

What does it sound like?

The opener “Fantastic Four Prelude” instantly reveals Glass’ syncopated, arpeggiated style. Glass may have provided the rhythmic chords here (and a lullaby-like melody for harp and glockenspiel), but I suspect that film’s heroic main theme is Beltrami’s. That brassy main theme, almost Barryesque in nature, returns throughout the score, notably in cues like “Beater”, “Building the Future”, “Pursuit”, “Strength in Numbers” and “End Titles”.

“Run” is one of the more exciting cues with trumpets in overdrive! It’s Goldenthal-esque at times. There are plenty of string ostinatos and percussive loops throughout the score. It’s a very typical action score in that regard. Elsewhere you’ll find reflective moments for slow strings and soft synth pads. There is also an echoing flute motif (a bit “Alien”-like) that reccurs several times throughout the score. “Meeting of the Minds” is a rather neat little cue.

Glass lends his recognisable chord progressions and arpeggios to the score, which gives “Fantastic Four” a mildly unique style – though for the most part it’s a surprisingly unremarkable score.

Is it any good?

It’s certainly an interesting combination to have Philip Glass and Marco Beltrami work on a score – especially one for this type of film. Many have praised the result, so I’m in the minority when I say that this score fails to appeal to me. It certainly has its moments, but large sections of underscore are not all that interesting, whilst the action music tends to get tiresome after a little while. The issue I have with Glass’ music is that, whilst I admire it from a technical viewpoint, it leaves me cold on an emotional level. I don’t really feel anything when I listen to his works. It’s too calculated, too sparse. Sometimes that’s just fine, but I fail to get excited about it. And despite Beltrami surely writing the bulk of “Fantastic Four”, it hardly escapes the cold stylistics.

Now, I’m sure it works great in the film. Beltrami pushes all the right buttons. There are powerful rhythms, stingers and clusters… and there’s an attractive main theme. Yet, something seems to be lacking, and I can’t quite put my finger on it. Maybe the theme is a little too simple, maybe the arrangements aren’t ‘deep’ enough, maybe the mixing is a bit different, or maybe it’s just missing a little bit of genuine oomph. I honestly don’t know, but these are thoughts that come to mind. It’s not for me, but I know I’m in the minority on this one, so don’t let that put you off exploring this unique collaboration between Glass and Beltrami.

Rating [2.5/5]

Tracklisting

1. Fantastic Four Prelude
2. The Garage
3. The Unveiling
4. Baxter
5. “All My Faith”
6. The Lab
7. Meeting of the Minds
8. It Begins
9. Building the Future
10. Launch One
11. Neil Armstrong
12. Maiden Voyage
13. Footprints
14. “Run”
15. Ben’s Drop
16. Real World Applications
17. Under Pressure
18. The Search
19. “You’re Going to Like This One”
20. Father and Son
21. Return
22. He’s Awake
23. Pursuit
24. Strength in Numbers
25. End Titles
26. Another Body (Digital Bonus Track)

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2 Comments
  1. I love Glass’s work it seems to me somewhat assuring that everything is in it’s place. I am so intrigued about this pairing but can find little info about it. It works for me and lifts the score from the usual Marvel soundtracks.

  2. Adam permalink

    I was surprised to find the main theme stick with me longer than most of them do. It definitely had its moments.

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