Tuesday, 15 September 2015


Check it out... if you are a fan of subtetly within your superhero music, Marco Beltrami and Philip Glass' Fantastic Four relying less on fanfare and thematic employment than texture and detail to tell its story

Skip it... if you demand your superhero scores served with the muscular grunt that has characterised DC and Marvel's latest releases so consistently


As one of 2015's most ridiculed and universally reproached features, Josh Trank's disastrous Fantastic Four netted both critical and financial dismissal upon initial release, and such has not changed since. From the screenplay to the visual effects; from the performances to the horrendous pacing, virtually nothing in this film stands out as worthy of appraisal; a rare feat, even for the over-saturated, tired superhero genre. The only redeemable element present within this hunk of bile happens to be the much anticipated score from Marco Beltrami and Philip Glass. A collaborative effort that is as strange as it is successful, Fantastic Four serves as one of the finest film scores of the year thus far, the piece possessing of rousing orchestrations, detailed soundscapes, a sense of kinetic motion present in both slow and fast-paced instances, and impressive action material. Whilst weighed down by the visual context's deplorable structure, Beltrami and Glass still manage to find ways to enunciate progression in character and themes; just look at the way they build the central leitmotif of their work in 'Building the Future', the general crescendo that defines the piece allowing for a feeling of forward movement. Beltrami is obviously the composer who had the most influence over the score, his writing admittedly stylish yet clearly more straight-forward than his contemporary's work; Glass' minimalistic inclinations and rhythmic arpeggios are scattered across the course of the album. The two composer's bring their individual styles together to create a cohesive, balanced and entertaining work.

With last year's The Giver and The Homesman, Beltrami established his aptitude for stripped down writing, both scores fairly restrained in nature, yet ever the more impactful for it. The gorgeous climax of The Giver is a testament to Beltrami's capabilities as a dramatic composer, and he implements many of the same components seen in that score here. In this regard, Fantastic Four is more similar to Craig Armstrong's The Incredible Hulk than any other modern superhero score; whilst your typical brawny Tyler-esque brass passages remain in moderate quantity, Glass and Beltrami have managed to incorporate a level of subtlety and intricacy sorely missing from the rest of the genre as-of late. It does suffer from a lack of truly memorable leitmotifs, every melodic identity part the central theme disappointingly forgettable, and a small number of tracks pass by without a smidge of consequence. But for the most part, Beltrami and Glass punctuate every moment of drama or tension with rich and vivid compositions. Wonder is given voice during 'The Garage' (which features prominently a woodwind line that feels taken directly out of Horner's The Amazing Spider-Man). As the heroes develop their relationships with one-another and work towards building a teleportation device, stirring crescendos and dramatic performances of the main theme litter the album, as evidenced by 'Baxter', 'The Lab', 'It Begins' and the aforementioned, stunning 'Building the Future'. Goldsmith influences can be heard on the mysterious and gradually escalating 'Maiden Voyage', the woodwinds heard in the first thirty seconds of the piece immediately reminiscent of those found throughout Alien. As the film eventually reaches its climax (after what seems an eternity, thanks to the uneven pacing), Beltrami and Glass offer us an abundance of truly brilliant action music, some of it melodic in essence ('"Run"'), but a vast majority let loose to flutter in all manner of directions. The standout action pieces conclude the duration, with 'He's Awake', 'Pursuit' and 'Strength in Numbers' serving as an appropriately gripping climax for the score. It's some of the most frenetic yet easily accessible action writing of Glass and Beltrami's independent careers, their styles gelling harmoniously together during this brilliant culmination. From beginning to end, Fantastic Four is a delectably fascinating ride; it's never wholly distinct in execution or sound, but it does offer a great deal of meticulous, ornate music that amazes, shocks and rivets. How much you enjoy the score as a whole depends on how closely you offer your attention, and whether or not you're willing to dismiss the less dynamic of cues in favour of the highlights. All the same, there is something for everyone on this highly absorbing effort. You can purchase Fantastic Four on Amazon or iTunes, here and here.



Additional notes about release: a digital bonus track is available on MP3 and iTunes only, entitled 'Another Body'. 

Track Listing

1.Fantastic Four Prelude5:16
2.Transporting the Car2:26
3.Science Fair1:03
4.Arriving in the City2:45
5.Boardroom, Baxter's Lab0:45
6.Reed Enters the Lab0:52
7.Meeting Victor0:52
8.Johnny In the Lab0:34
9.Building the Shuttle2:49
10.Elder Arrives3:11
11.Neil Armstrong2:57
12.Quantum Shuttle1:56
13.First Footprints4:00
14.Planet Zero Escape2:38
15.Elder and Storm, Ben's Drop2:27
16.Real World Applications1:39
17.Elder Pressures Storm1:01
18.Looking For Reed1:58
19.Ben's Mission, Finding Reed1:09
20.Storm Talks With Johnny1:49
21.Return to Planet Zero2:42
22.Victor's Wake6:55
23.In Pursuit of Victor3:01
25.End Titles6:15
26.MP3 & ITUNES ONLY: Another Body (EL-P)5:30
Total Album Time:71:47

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