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Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines
Composed, Co-Conducted, and Produced by:
Marco Beltrami

Conducted by:
Pete Anthony

Performed by:
The Hollywood Studio Symphony and Hollywood Film Chorale

Varèse Sarabande

Release Date:
June 24th, 2003

Also See:
Terminator 2

Audio Clips:
3. Blonde Behind the Wheel (0:30):
WMA (197K)  MP3 (242K)
Real Audio (150K)

11. Kicked in the Can (0:28):
WMA (184K)  MP3 (227K)
Real Audio (141K)

17. Radio (0:30):
WMA (195K)  MP3 (242K)
Real Audio (150K)

18. T3 (0:31):
WMA (202K)  MP3 (250K)
Real Audio (155K)

Regular U.S. release.


Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines

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Buy it... if you were immensely disappointed by Brad Fiedel's approach to the previous Terminator films and seek a slightly more diverse, orchestral score for the saga.

Avoid it... if you are a long-time fan of the saga and have waited for Terminator music that genuinely excites, tantalizes, and terrifies without relying solely on simple, metallic textures.

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines: (Marco Beltrami) The mythology revolving around the saga of The Terminator has intrigued audiences since the 1984 original by James Cameron became a hugely popular cult hit. The second film, complete with vastly new technology in special effects, broke box office records in 1991 and supposedly ended the saga on a guardedly positive note. And yet, a third sequel in 2003 features a seemingly ageless Arnold Schwarzenegger and his usual grimace tackling a situation suspiciously similar to that of the second film. The project, which allowed him another chance to exhibit his hulking, nude body, was his last Hollywood hurrah before turning to politics with mixed results. In Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, a much more powerful terminator has once again come from the future to kill the human who is destined to return control of the future Earth to mankind. While the first two films furthered the saga by toying with possible futures and revealing many of the concept's unanswered questions, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines treads on more dangerous ground, threading that fine line between a viable saga continuation and a simple action remake of an old idea. After all, why not just push back doomsday a few years to allow for another studio cash cow? Along these lines, young director Jonathan Mostow wanted to distinguish the third installment from the previous one, including a new approach to the music for the picture. Rumors of extensive song use and the return of saga composer Brad Fiedel were dismissed by Mostow, who decided upon the equally young composer Marco Beltrami for the job. Mostow was familiar with Beltrami's work for such thriller and horror films as Scream, The Faculty, and Mimic, all of which topping Beltrami's resume in the genre at the time. Looking for the same unique edge in orchestration and emotions, Mostow directed Beltrami to produce a score that would better assert the emotions of the characters on the screen rather than simply accompany them in the background. If the previous Terminator films had a common weakness, it was the use of Fiedel's sufficient, but usually uninspiring electronic underscores.

Fiedel's music for the first two films varied from highly effective to highly underachieving. Few viewers criticize the first film's original score, for it represented the era and cult environment of the story well. When the sequel launched directly into the mainstream on a huge budget, however, Fiedel's mundane collection of sound effects and limited elaboration of the first film's themes and motifs caused widespread disappointment that would continue with his subsequent underachievement for True Lies. The score for Terminator 2: Judgement Day offered two or three statements of Fiedel's ironically compelling and lyrical theme, as well as a return of the heart-stopping percussive rhythm that represented the terminators themselves. Otherwise, it was lacking in basic cohesion outside of the textural constructs that remain popular with some listeners even today. Beltrami did not adapt Fiedel's theme into Terminator 3 on the whole, whether by choice, direction, or legality. Nor does he offer the same staggered percussion rhythms that brought the terminators to life in the previous films. Instead, Beltrami starts from scratch for Terminator 3, armed with nearly 100 musicians from the Hollywood Studio Symphony and the singers of the Hollywood Film Chorale. For fans who disliked Fiedel's electronically simplistic approach to the other Terminator scores, the prospect of Beltrami breaking into the mainstream limelight with a massive orchestral score was exciting. But alas, this ranks alongside Eric Serra's Goldeneye as one of the greatest missed franchise opportunities in the Digital Age of film music. The result of Beltrami's effort is an equally mundane underscore that offers new themes and supporting motifs, but little dynamic enthusiasm in performance, instrumentation, or spirit. The narrative of the franchise is not only somewhat disjointed on screen because of the shift in crew, but definitely in the music, which carries a few basic characteristics through the entire run but not much else. Musically, Terminator 3 doesn't frighten or exhilarate the listener, and unfortunately, it seems as though Beltrami fell into the trap of composing music that accompanies the action mood rather than assisting in establishing it.

The part of the equation that defies logic with Terminator 3 is how a score with such lofty goals and over a hundred performers could end up sounding so confined and understated. The lack of power and weight behind the composition and orchestrations by Beltrami, Pete Anthony, and others, is startling. An extremely dry mix doesn't help. After the score begins with a promising choral introduction and a driving percussive statement of awe and terror, the music becomes flat throughout the rest of its length. Despite the quantity of talent involved, the score is repetitive, underdeveloped in its rhythms, and not scary to the least degree. Chase cues, which are grand opportunities to create whopping rhythms of electronic and orchestral power, are accompanied by incoherent rhythms that never establish enough of a presence to get your adrenaline rushing. Emotional interludes for the contemplative scenes are performed at very low volumes, causing problems with consistency on album. Lacking in evocative emotions, the secondary string theme desperately cries out for more of a voice, especially in the almost comatose cello and choir performances in the pivotal "Radio," a cue that was meant to represent the start of the famed resistance. Beltrami's theme for John Connor is curiously devoid of any memorable aspect. Stated briefly in full during action sequences, the theme is given a very troubled off key performance during "JC Theme," a cue that is mind-bogglingly repetitive and patience testing. The "T3" cue offers this theme, as well as the string theme as an interlude, in full, with the orchestra backed by a chorus and Beltrami's own interpretation of the percussive terminator rhythm. Mainstream listeners may find the theme appealing in its simple construction, playing heavily upon familiar minor thirds, though it does repeat itself without particularly intelligent development. But film score fans may be troubled by some obvious similarities between this theme by Beltrami and John Ottman's title theme for Apt Pupil. With an estimated 80% overlap in pace, tone, and note-for-note melody, the nearly identical nature of Beltrami's Terminator 3 theme may be disturbing for film music veterans, and especially so for dumbstruck Ottman collectors. The sparse atmosphere of the recording of this simplistic theme will likely send listeners seeking Ottman's superior alternative.

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Although the statement of this primary thematic idea by Beltrami in "T3" may be troublesome, the fact remains that it is easily the most memorable cue from the score regardless of its origins. Its tone certainly fits the menacing nature of this franchise's bleak outlook on the future. On the other hand, however, the bareness and unadorned character of the rest of Beltrami's underscore jostles the title theme further out of place. An emotional constraint and reticence to engage causes several cues to lose their intensity and thus their effectiveness. There is no steely, modern edge to Beltrami's music to match some of Fiedel's better cues (such as "John and Dyson into the Vault" from the second score), and the metallic sound effects employed here exhibit no sense of futuristic style. On album, over forty minutes of the score is generously presented before one interpretation of Fiedel's Terminator themes (which, after being disappointed by Beltrami's score, is like hearing an old friend return with glory). But the two-minute recording of the original Fiedel theme is equally lifeless, despite the larger recording group. Several orchestras around the world have done much better symphonic justice to the idea through the years. The album finishes with two songs, the first by Beltrami and the second by Mia Julia Schettino. This is one of the rare situations in which the songs are considerably better than the score. Their optimistic and upbeat nature doesn't match Beltrami's work whatsoever, producing problems with continuity and raising more befuddlement about the entire production. Why couldn't Beltrami translate the emotionally engaging theme directly from his song into his score? The Mia Julia performance of the second song is equally romantic and easy on the ears. As the album stands, the songs are an awkward glimpse of heart at the end of an album that will otherwise leave you cold and bored. For a film with such a romantic undertone in its unlikely love story, this score gives humanity absolutely no sense of hope whatsoever. Ultimately, the muddled underscore is perplexing in its inability to excite, tantalize, or terrify. Even so, orchestral score fans may find Terminator 3 to be more accessible than Fiedel's previous entry in the saga. The disgruntlement remains, however, for strict Terminator fans who have waited far too long for a new Terminator score that powerfully and forcefully does what it should: kick ass. ** Price Hunt: CD or Download

Bias Check:For Marco Beltrami reviews at Filmtracks, the average editorial rating is 2.73 (in 22 reviews)
and the average viewer rating is 2.79 (in 15,925 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.

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 Track Listings: Total Time: 51:30

• 1. A Day in the Life (3:41)
• 2. Hooked on Multiphonics (1:48)
• 3. Blonde Behind the Wheel (2:08)
• 4. JC Theme (3:35)
• 5. Starting T1 (1:51)
• 6. Hearse Rent a Car (1:49)
• 7. TX's Hot Tail (3:40)
• 8. Graveyard Shootout (1:32)
• 9. More Deep Thoughts (0:59)
• 10. Dual Terminator (0:51)
• 11. Kicked in the Can (2:03)
• 12. Magnetic Personality (4:36)
• 13. Termina-Tricks (2:13)
• 14. Flying Lessons (0:57)
• 15. What Do You Want on your Tombstone? (1:20)
• 16. Terminator Tangle (3:21)
• 17. Radio (2:21)
• 18. T3 (3:15)
• 19. The Terminator (from the Motion Picture The Terminator) - composed by Brad Fiedel (2:17)

Bonus Tracks:
• 20. Open to Me - performed by Dillon Dixon (3:48)
• 21. I Told You - performed by Mia Julia (3:12)

 Notes and Quotes:  

The insert includes a note from the director regarding Beltrami's score, as well as list of performers.

  All artwork and sound clips from Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines are Copyright © 2003, Varèse Sarabande. The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Filmtracks Publications. Audio clips can be heard using RealPlayer but cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 6/23/03 and last updated 3/11/09. Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 2003-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.