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  • terminator_salvationComposed by Danny Elfman
  • Reprise 519707 / 2009 / 50:27

The latest attempt to wring some life out of the Terminator brand was this film, set in 2018 (so it doesn’t really matter which of the earlier entries in the franchise it follows) – completely different from what went before, essentially just a war movie set in the future.  Audiences are evidently not quite so receptive to Terminator movies as the filmmakers would like – the third film was a relative failure, the tv series Sarah Connor Chronicles was reasonably well-received yet hardly anyone watched it, and now this film did even worse than its predecessor.Brad Fiedel was not the most gifted of film composers, but for the unique situation of The Terminator he was the perfect composer (perhaps for the same reason as Arnie was perfect as the character).  His exceptionally limited palette happened to be exactly what the film needed and, while I can’t ever imagine wanting to listen to it on a CD, his music did well in context; for the third film, Marco Beltrami went off in a completely different, more orchestral, direction – and it’s an interesting combination of the two approaches that Elfman takes here. 

The first thing to note is the absence of the familiar Fiedel theme – but Elfman has generated the same kind of grinding sound that Fiedel achieved, but created it largely with an orchestra instead.  It’s an interesting approach which works well.  There are a few original themes here, but as with many Elfman themes they are really more like little fragments of melody which are used completely fluidly – you won’t be humming them after you watch the film, but they’re very enjoyable on the album.  He creates a few very good pieces from them, particularly the six-minute “Opening” and eight-minute “Reveal/The Escape”.  Elsewhere, the action music is all very solid, exciting in places, reminiscent of Elfman’s style familiar since Planet of the Apes.  I’m not sure it really leaves a big impression after it’s all over, but there’s an enjoyable three quarters of an hour to be spent here; Elfman doesn’t pull up any trees, he just does this sort of thing very well and there’s good fun to be had. *** 1/2

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  1. mastadge (Reply) on Thursday 24 September, 2009 at 14:33

    Now here’s a score I spun once or twice but never really got into. Maybe I’ll go back and give it another shot.

  2. Orlando Gonzalez (Reply) on Friday 25 September, 2009 at 03:08

    For one reason or another I liked the score badly, not because it is very original nor cause the Fiedel theme, it was mostly cause Elfman did a very nice job expressing the machines vs man thing in his music, we can listen to the machine’s theme early on in opening, as well the human theme represented by the more lyrical passages, indeed not his finest but it is a very solid entry in this pale year so far!

    P.S The action as James nodded is first rate