Tag Archives: Marco Beltrami

My thoughts on: Live Free or Die Hard (2007)

*this review was requested by a patron as part of his $5/month pledge on Patreon

*the links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

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It took about a week longer than I’d planned but I finally managed to sit down and watch Live Free or Die Hard (2007), the first film from the Die Hard franchise that I’ve ever seen. After two long, painful hours, the credits finally began to roll and I came to the following conclusion: this movie is terrible!

In this fourth installment in the Die Hard franchise, John McClane (Bruce Willis) finds himself forced to protect a hacker (Justin Long) after a mysterious organization tries to kill him with a C4 bomb hidden in his computer. This is after a different group hacks the Department of Cyber-Security (or something to that effect) and then systematically begins murdering the hackers who helped them do it. It turns out this group is led by Thomas Gabriel (Timothy Olyphant), a former analyst for the Defense Department, who was ousted from his position after predicting something like this might happen and is now shutting down the country’s infrastructure via hacking to prove his point (that the U.S. cyber-security is woefully lacking). McClane has to stop Gabriel from throwing the country into chaos and rescue his daughter too.

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That is the plot in a nutshell and I wish I could give more detail but it really wouldn’t help. On the one hand, I do see where the filmmakers were trying to go with this story. The idea of genius hackers taking down the system in this manner is a frightening one and would make for a good story if done properly. Unfortunately, with lousy dialogue and at times cringe-worthy camera work, this movie reminded me more of those bad B-films the SyFy channel puts on every weekend instead of a big-budget blockbuster.

Despite overall not liking this film, I was able to find a few bright spots:

  • Justin Long: I loved his performance as in-over-his-head hacker Matt Farrell; he’s clearly the audience surrogate for this story and he nailed the part.
  • Warlock: Matt’s hacker friend “Warlock” (Kevin Smith) might be my favorite character in the film. He’s the quintessential “nerd who lives in his mom’s basement” but he’s also this master hacker with an awesome computer rig. I love how his “command center” was this literal cave of nerd-dom, with gaming consoles, collectibles, everything a hardcore nerd could ever want.
  • The first threat video: Gabriel uploads two threatening videos to the nation’s news networks. The first of these is a speech cobbled together from televised speeches given by presidents ranging from Truman to George W. Bush (the then-current President). It’s a visual example of a ransom note, the ones you’d see with letters cut out from different sources to make one word. That was one element I really liked.
  • The music: Marco Beltrami’s score is relatively simplistic but it serves the needs of the film, which is a big plus given how bad most of the film was.

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And then there’s what I hated:

  • The dialogue: If I really got going, I could probably rage for hours about how atrocious this dialogue was, especially the lines given to Timothy Olyphant. It just didn’t sound believable a lot of the time and it ruined any attempt to get invested into the story.
  • Lack of plot: Most of this film can be boiled into this format: car chase + helicopter chase + another car chase/gun fight + helicopter gun fight + repeat ad nauseam. I’m not against chases in movies (as a matter of fact I enjoy them for the most part), but what I strongly object to is chase after chase with very little plot in between it all.
  • That scene with the F-35: I may be wrong, but I’m pretty certain most of what happened with that fighter jet couldn’t happen in real life. It also stretched my suspension of disbelief that the pilot would get authorization to use deadly force in an area full of civilians (at the very least he should have requested something verifying the order).

Final thoughts: Live Free or Die Hard has, for the moment, justified my reasons for avoiding this franchise (though I’ve been told the first film is much better). A few bright spots and a decent score couldn’t save this movie in my opinion. It’s great if you’re a fan of mindless action sequences, but it’s really not for me.

Let me know what you think of Live Free or Die Hard in the comments below, have a great day!

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See also:

Marco Beltrami talks Live Free or Die Hard (2007)

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Thoughts on Logan (2017)

*the links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

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Wow, where do I even start with Logan? Holy fracking s***!!!! Let me start by saying that I have wanted to see Hugh Jackman playing Wolverine in theaters for a while now, but something has always come up previously. Knowing that Logan was my last chance, I made every effort to see this film as soon as possible and it was totally worth it!

Now, normally when I discuss a film I’ve just seen I hold nothing back regarding spoilers, but…based on what I saw, I cannot find it in myself to spoil this film completely. You really need to watch this film for yourself (if you haven’t already). However, there a few things I NEED to talk about…: *various spoilers follow from this point*

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The film is set in 2029 in a noticeably dystopian future (I should point out that this is not immediately obvious, but it plays into the plot at a crucial moment). Logan (for a host of reasons) is working as a limo driver, ferrying all kinds of people to where they need to go. When he’s not working jobs, he lives south of the border taking care of Professor X, who is not well. It is mentioned (and this made my jaw drop) that for reasons unknown (even to Professor X), no new mutants have been born in 25 years; Logan is of the opinion that the mutant gene has died out. Well, that isn’t entirely true…because one day Logan runs into Laura.

Dafne Keen as Laura/X-23: In the world of comics, I didn’t learn of X-23’s existence until just a few years ago (she “guest-starred” in a Black Widow comic). From then on, I was fascinated by the existence of a female Wolverine (I love the retractable claws), and when I learned that the young girl in Logan was X-23…well, that cemented my need to see this film.

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Watching Logan and Laura interact was one of my favorite parts of this film. Having Logan confronted with suddenly having a daughter (and a feisty one at that) told a great story, one that I wish could have been continued past this film. My favorite fight scene is towards the end when the pair team up and fight in the woods against a team of bad guys (the moment where she launches off of Logan’s back is as awesome as you think it is).

 

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It turns out that Laura is an escapee from a hidden project that had been attempting to artificially create mutants, using genetic material swiped from various mutants (including Logan). The “X-23” program is deemed a failure when the children are found to be uncontrollable past a certain point and once the “X-24” project is completed, the children are going to be executed until an organization sympathetic to the children helps them to escape the facility. Logan is (reluctantly) hired to take Laura to a place in North Dakota identified as “Eden”, which proves to be a launching point for a final run to the Canadian border, where the children are to be granted asylum, IF they can get across that is. See, the agency that created the children wants them back, desperately, and they’ll stop at nothing to get them.

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I don’t want to reveal too much more, but I will say a few things in general:

  • this film absolutely needed an R rating to tell this story properly, there is no way Logan would have worked as a PG-13 film
  • if you haven’t figured out the identity of X-24, the reveal is very well done and generated an audible gasp from me
  • Dafne Keen absolutely KILLS it as a younger, female version of Wolverine. I would be genuinely happy to see a standalone X-23 film (with Dafne continuing to play the character).
  • Patrick Stewart’s performance as Professor X deserves an Oscar, as does Hugh Jackman’s performance as a noticeably-past-his-prime Wolverine.
  • Marco Beltrami’s score for the film is excellent (he rarely disappoints me)
  • Logan is a well-executed conclusion to the Wolverine saga, though I am very sad to see Jackman exit the role. He will always be Wolverine to me.
  • Boyd Holbrook’s character has one of the best “bad guy gets his comeuppance in spades” scenes that I’ve seen in quite a long time. Just goes to show that one should never piss off a group of mutants.
  • While this IS the conclusion of the “old” X-Men as we know it, I believe there has been a hook left to follow a new generation of mutants (and I don’t just mean the recent films following younger versions of the classic characters), which would be exciting.
  • One last note: be prepared to cry at the end.

I’m so happy I went to see Logan, it did not disappoint. Have you gone to see Logan yet? What did you think about it? Let me know what you think in the comments below!

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Marco Beltrami talks World War Z (2013)

*the links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

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Marco Beltrami talks World War Z (2013)

Wow, I haven’t done one of these in the longest time (would you believe I have about ten interviews in draft form that I’ve been sitting on for the last four months?), so hopefully I still remember how to do this 🙂

This film (in brief), follows a retired UN investigator (Brad Pitt) as he seeks to keep his family safe from a global zombie outbreak. Along the way he works to find a cure (if any) and stop the zombie hordes from overwhelming the human survivors.

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World War Z was never on my list of “must see movies” because I can’t watch zombie films (they’re too real for me), but when I saw that Marco Beltrami had score the picture, I decided it was at least worth investigating to see what the composer had to say. This brief interview I found, while all too short, is enlightening nonetheless. The part that really jumped out at me is when Beltrami describes how he incorporated the tonal sounds of the Emergency Broadcast System (you know, that annoying buzzer/screech that comes on the TV every six months or so when they test the system) into the harmonies of the film score. I haven’t heard it for myself, but it sounds very clever, and would certainly be a great way to heighten the tension in a film like this.

Beltrami also discusses the need for the film to have a main theme, something to ground the story in. And let’s face it, a good theme (or the lack thereof) can make or break a film. If you watched (and liked) World War Z, then you will definitely find this brief video interesting. I only wish I could find a longer interview.

See also:

Marco Beltrami talks Blade II (2002)

Marco Beltrami and Marilyn Manson talk Resident Evil (2002)

Marco Beltrami talks Live Free or Die Hard (2007)

Marco Beltrami talks 3:10 to Yuma (2007)

Marco Beltrami talks The Wolverine (2013)

Film Composer Interviews A-H

Film Composer Interviews K-Z

Become a patron of the blog at: patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

Marco Beltrami talks Blade II (2002)

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Marco Beltrami talks Blade II (2002)

In the early 2000s (before The Twilight Saga set itself up as the vampire saga), there was another vampire of note appearing on the silver screen: Blade. Adapted from a comic book, Blade is a half-vampire who spends his days waging a behind-the-scenes war against vampires and the humans allied with them. Being a half-vampire himself, Blade suffers from a growing thirst for blood, but also has none of the weaknesses of regular vampires.

Blade (1998), introduced us to the character and his war against vampires, while Blade II (2002), continues the story. In the sequel, two years after the original story took place, Blade is forced to join forces with his hated rivals to combat a new strain of vampirism that turns those infected into “Reapers”, a mutation that is immune to all vampire weaknesses except for bright light.

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Reapers kill all humans that they come into contact with, while any vampires they feed on also become Reapers. Blade is brought in to help with the situation as the vampires have found themselves unable to contain the Reapers. Ironically, the team of vampires Blade is forced to work with (known as ‘the Bloodpack’) were actually trained for the sole purpose of killing Blade. (Also interesting to note: this film features a pre-Walking Dead Norman Reedus as seen in the picture below.)

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The orchestral score for this film was composed by Marco Beltrami, and I was delighted to find this interview where he describes the process of creating the score for Blade II. One of the drawbacks of an action film is that the fights and mayhem usually drown out the score, so this interview provides a rare opportunity to hear pieces of the music without any interference.

I used to be really into movies like Blade II, and I feel it’s a good example of a comic adapted to film (and significant since this takes place before Marvel and DC began saturating the market in 2008). There have been whispers of Blade being rebooted into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, though I’m not sure where the character would fit in (it would be pretty huge to introduce the existence of vampires).

What did you think of Blade II? Did Marco Beltrami’s score stand out at all? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

See also:

Marco Beltrami and Marilyn Manson talk Resident Evil (2002)

Marco Beltrami talks Live Free or Die Hard (2007)

Marco Beltrami talks 3:10 to Yuma (2007)

Marco Beltrami talks The Wolverine (2013)

Marco Beltrami talks World War Z (2013)

Film Composer Interviews A-H

Film Composer Interviews K-Z

Become a patron of the blog at: patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook too 🙂

*film poster is the property of New Line Cinema

Marco Beltrami talks The Wolverine (2013)

*the links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

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Marco Beltrami talks The Wolverine (2013)

The Wolverine opened in 2013 as the sixth installment overall in the X-Men film franchise. This was not the first film to give an origin story for Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine. The studio had tried to tell this story once before in 2009 with X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and even though that film was a financial success, it fell flat with fans and critics. This time however, the studio succeeded and The Wolverine was praised by all.

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The film follows Logan as he is taken to Japan to meet a Japanese businessman whose life he saved during the bombing of Nagasaki in 1945. Now dying, the elderly man, named Yashida, offers Logan a deal: transfer his healing factor to Yashida’s body, a process that would restore Yashida’s youth and turn Logan mortal (and Logan had previously expressed that he considered his immortality a curse). Logan refuses, but Yashida will not let him go just like that. The Wolverine must fight for his life, and battle some internal demons along the way.

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Marco Beltrami was brought in to score the film and the brief interview clip above gives some insight into the scoring process that took place for this film. It’s always amazing to hear the music as it is being recorded, because often many sounds are lost in the muddle of the completed film (between sound effects, dialogue and other background noises), you rarely get the chance to hear the pure sound of the music.

Since most of this film is set in Japan, Beltrami used traditional Japanese instruments, but not in a “traditional” way. He wanted to stay away from the stereotype of hearing soft, traditional Japanese music when the scene is set in Japan. From what I’ve heard, I believe he did an excellent job. Please enjoy!

See also:

Marco Beltrami talks Blade II (2002)

Marco Beltrami and Marilyn Manson talk Resident Evil (2002)

Marco Beltrami talks Live Free or Die Hard (2007)

Marco Beltrami talks 3:10 to Yuma (2007)

Marco Beltrami talks World War Z (2013)

Film Composer Interviews A-H

Film Composer Interviews K-Z

Become a patron of the blog at: patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Like Film Music Central on Facebook here

Marco Beltrami and Marilyn Manson talk Resident Evil (2002)

*the links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

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In 2002, the Resident Evil movie franchise launched with the first self-titled film in the series. Based on elements from the video games Resident Evil and Resident Evil 2, the movie Resident Evil follows Alice (Milla Jovovich) as she and a team must break into the Hive, a genetic research facility located underneath Raccoon City, to retrieve an anti-virus to stop a zombie plague. There’s one small complication however: the Hive is crawling with zombified employees and scientists.

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Not all of the zombies are alike either: while most are the typical flesh-eating zombie, others have mutated into “Lickers,” a more deadly creature with a monstrous appearance. On top of all this, the Red Queen A.I. that controls the facility is determined to stop them at all costs in order to protect the world above. Another complication in the story is that Alice initially wakes up in a deserted mansion with total amnesia. As the story progresses, she begins to remember bits and pieces (for example, she remembers the anti-virus was located in a specific room).

While this film (and the lengthy series which followed) clearly attempted to capitalize off the popularity of the Resident Evil video game, it is unfortunately remembered as yet another video game-to-film adaptation that did not do its subject material justice. And yet, despite receiving consistently terrible reviews (Roger Ebert put the film on his “Most Hated” list), the franchise spawned five sequels and is currently in the process of being rebooted. For those curious, here is the complete list of Resident Evil films:

  • Resident Evil (2002)
  • Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004)
  • Resident Evil: Extinction (2007)
  • Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010)
  • Resident Evil: Retribution (2012)
  • Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (2016)

The score for this film was a collaboration between Marco Beltrami and Marilyn Manson (who knew?) and the interview regarding this film score features the two of them. Manson describes the score and overall soundtrack as being more “electronic” than previous works.

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Resident Evil doesn’t rate that high on my list of favorite films (because of the zombies), but it’s definitely worth a try if you’re into straight-out action. I hope you enjoy this interview! Let me know what you think of Resident Evil (both the first film and the series) in the comments below!

See also:

Marco Beltrami talks Blade II (2002

Marco Beltrami talks Live Free or Die Hard (2007)

Marco Beltrami talks 3:10 to Yuma (2007)

Marco Beltrami talks The Wolverine (2013)

Marco Beltrami talks World War Z (2013)

Film Composer Interviews A-H

Film Composer Interviews K-Z

Become a patron of the blog at: patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

Marco Beltrami talks 3:10 to Yuma (2007)

*the links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

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Marco Beltrami talks 3:10 to Yuma (2007)

Copyright Lions Gate Entertainment. 2007

The 2007 film 3:10 to Yuma is a remake of the 1957 film of the same name, and tells the story of impoverished rancher Dan Evans (Christian Bale), who agrees to transport wanted outlaw Ben Wade (Russell Crowe) to the train station so he can board the 3:10 train to Yuma Territorial Prison. This mission is far from simple as Wade’s gang is in hot pursuit of their leader and will kill to free him again.

Evans, on the other hand, is seeking the $200 he will earn for safely delivering Evans to the train because it will greatly help his family. It also comes out that he wants to restore some sense of honor to his life so his sons will have something positive to remember about their father when they’re grown.

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By the end of the story, Evans is the only one of Wade’s captors still alive and the outlaw has developed a modicum of respect for the rancher (though an outlaw, Wade does have his own principles and he respects those who also have a firm sense of principles). Evans gets Wade all the way to the train only to be fatally shot by Prince, one of Wade’s men (despite Wade’s order that Prince not shoot).

Disgusted at the loss of a good man, Wade steps off the train and executes his entire gang before cheerfully surrendering to the authorities (thus ensuring that Evan’s contract is fulfilled and Evans’ sons will receive the money). Though he’s on the train to prison, he whistles for his horse, which follows along, implying that he’ll be on the loose again before long.

As a general rule, I am not overly fond of remakes. However, this film is an enjoyable way to pass a few hours, and the score is well done. The interview provides a great insight into how Beltrami put the score together. Enjoy!

See also:

Marco Beltrami talks Blade II (2002)

Marco Beltrami and Marilyn Manson talk Resident Evil (2002)

Marco Beltrami talks Live Free or Die Hard (2007)

Marco Beltrami talks The Wolverine (2013)

Marco Beltrami talks World War Z (2013)

Film Composer Interviews A-H

Film Composer Interviews K-Z

Become a patron of the blog at: patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂