Sunday, May 17, 2009

Hasta La Vista, Theme Song...

I'm currently listening to the score from the latest in the Terminator franchise of films, 2009's "Terminator Salvation" which opens in the USA for early showings this Thursday, May 21st. It will have some (for reasons beyond my comprehension) tough competition in the more family friendly fodder of the latest waste of film to star Ben Stiller. Nope, I'm not saying the flicks name. I know from box office experience that it will likely win the weekend due to being more family friendly, so I'm getting a head start on being upset that it beat the new Terminator flick for number one that memorial day weekend.

Anyway, like I said, I'm currently listening to the score from TS, and... I'll be honest, it's a good score. It's not epic or sweeping thus far, as I've heard. But it's solid, and thankfully, it doesn't sound like a typical Danny Elfman composition for the most part. Don't get me wrong, Elfman has talent - but when it comes to genre stuff, he should be banished to an island and never allowed near it with a ten foot pole. That said, he's managed to hide his normal tones and tunes - mostly - from TS. That all said... it's lacking one very critical thing.

The one thing that every single true Terminator fan wants. And has wanted. Since 2003's disappointment of Terminator 3, and the more recent Terminator TV series.

The god damn mother fucking theme song!

...Seriously. What. The. Fuck?

There are not many films that have a sweeping and well loved theme song that become iconic. There really aren't. I mean, think of 10 and you've likely named them all. Star Wars. Star Trek. Godfather. Jurrasic Park. I can't go much further than that. Because there are not to many films with great iconic themes that are so beloved!

When they didn't use it outside of the closing credits in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines... I was miffed. But at the time, I glossed over it, because it was Arnold as the Terminator again after a 12 year long wait. I was young, naive, and able to gloss over such a (at the time) triviality as the theme song. When they where preparing for Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, I actually spoke with series compose Bear McCreary (one of my top 3 composers, btw) through e-mail and asked him, point blank: what was happening with the theme? He informed me they (FOX) where trying to secure the rights, and all those involved in production wanted to use it. Alas, all we ended up with was the thump-thump-thump-thump-thump drum beat intro.

When I first heard substantial news of Terminator Salvation, director McG (shit name, right? He knows, he's not a pre-madonna, it's short of McGinty and a nickname he got as a kid because he's the third named Joe in his family, as I recall) first spoke of the film, he promptly addressed the themes. He said he loved them. He said he wanted them. When he hired Danny Elfman, he said he had instructed Elfman to use said themes.

I rejoiced.

I knew Elfman wouldn't use them constantly, I knew we would be lucky to have the opening and closing credits and maybe a specific moment near the climax of the film, but I relaxed as all seemed well and on track for the return of the great theme I'd loved since, literally, childhood.

Yet here I am. Writing, ranting, and grinding my teeth as I listen to the score from Terminator Salvation and... do not hear the themes. None of them. Certainly not the familair "do-do-dooooooo, doo-doo-doooooooo" that so many of us love from the first two films. No, I'm listening to the latest Terminator score sans any Terminator themes! Again!

I feel like pulling a William Shatner and, at the top of my lungs, screaming to the heavens like he did for Khan...




It's no use though. The film comes out in 5 days. There is nothing to be done except to feel a little bitter, a little betrayed, and a little more disenfranchised. And as I type those words, a little sickened too, as I just heard some classic Elfman chaos in track 7 that, to my ears, is nails on a chalkboard. Thankfully it was just a brief moment. Hopefully that's all it will be. But I guess it's "Hasta La Vista, Theme Song" for Terminator.

Have a listen. It's good. It's just not great; and it's lacking that which we all hoped it would contain, the themes.


Anonymous said...


The thing you (and many other fans of franchise films) just don't seem to understand with these scores,, the original themes can NOT be used without a license or permission and if that studio / composer of the original theme says "no" there's nothing the composer can do about it! It's not Elfman's fault!

Everything changes, if you see a new Alien movie you will get an Alien but it will look a little different, same with actors reprising roles or whatever,, music also must change-- and even more-so because the music is copyrighted to that ONE film.. Not to be used in any film there after.

Its complicated beyond just being a fanboy who wants to relive nostalgia (just go watch the old film for fuk sake)--- sometimes it's just the wrong choice and to stick it in a film for that reason is just dumb and ruins the film.. Beltrami did the right thing with T3 and so did Elfman with T4.

However sometimes it works, Horner did great Star Trek 2, in fact that is probably the best "reinterpretation" of a great theme (Goldsmith's first ST theme) that any composer has done! Unfortunately, Giacchino has to be the WORST start Trek score of them all,, Giaachoinno is so over-rated, unoriginal and bland.. I don't know why everyone keeps saying he's great,,, he's no Goldsmith or Williams,, not even close.

So live with it, enjoy the new direction or don't watch the film / tv show... Complaining about it without understand the legalities is a pointless endeavor. You will hardly ever get original themes to your fanchise sequels.. Live with it and enjoy the new stuff..

If they really wanted that original music again they could have hired Brad Fidel (I'm sure he'd love to have a job) for the show or the movie--- they didn't! So obviously they all like and respect the music but they don't really want it in their new film.

Dave said...

While there are always legal issues when dealing with previously composed music, we don't know if that's the case with this film. Well, at least I don't.

Besides, maybe the theme is in the film, just not on the CD?

The guy over here said...

The five-note theme is in the film. Twice. Once in the opening of the film and once during a certain cameo...