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CD: World War Z (2013)
Review Rating:   Very Good  
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June 18, 2013

Tracks / Album Length:

11 tracks / (44:09)



Marco Beltrami


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Comments :    

After delivering a more electronic based score, the reshoots demanded by Paramount mandated revisions to the score crafted by Marco Beltrami with Buck Sanders, and the end result is a fairly smooth work, albeit with a greater emphasis on large scale action.

Most of what’s on the soundtrack album is a selective programme designed to start the film with a bang, interpolate a few rest cues, and build up towards a large finale where reunion and hope are the governing emotions.

Beltrami’s not new to revising a score. Blade 2 (2002) was remixed by Danny Saber to give it more ‘edge’ if not a bit more funk, and when most of Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998) was tracked with music from Beltrami’s Scream (1996), Beltrami was asked to extend what were edited cues in the film’s temp track and create music that actually related to specific cuts and events, and flowed naturally (which was occasionally the case) in spite of the retention of John Ottman’s original score.

WWZ catches the composer in his maximum action mode, and fans of robust works such as A Good Day to Die Hard [M] (2013) will be pleased at how smoothly the score flows between epic action and short character moments. The CD could easily have run 60+ minutes – and would’ve been far more satisfying – so as it stands what we have is a sampler of main themes and cues which precede the inevitable expanded CD release a few years down the road.

Among the album’s highlights are “Philadelphia,” which rumbles forward and switches to a pounding rendition of the Morse Code distress signal. Things snarl, buzz, and slam with mighty percussive hits, and in “Ninja Quiet” there’s great zig-zagging action between rippling percussion and grinding strings as a troupe make their way to a refueled plane.

“NJ Mart” contains a sampling of the scaled down electronic drones and flanging pulses perhaps left over from the original score design, goosed with brass and thicker flanging to create a mounting urge of immediate flight. Electronica also dominates the opening bars of “Wales,” which is either an homage to the digital dread of John Murphy’s 28 Days Later (2002), or perhaps a sign the scene was at one point temp-tracked with Murphy’s signature theme before Beltrami stepped in and crafted his own dramatic arc, shaping the mood from British bleak to a set of warming chords with subtle voices, as done for his heroic material in I, Robot (2004).

For contrast, “The Lane Family” is the film’s unifying theme, a humanist work that links the separated father to his daughters and wife as he hops from Philadelphia to a destroyer, then flies to South Korea, Israel, Wales, and treks to Nova Scotia (because things are apparently calmer on the Canadian front). The plaintive qualities of the high register strings are both classic Beltrami, and an unsubtle reminder of Alfred Newman’s own clever use of sustained high notes to create empathetic links between characters and an audience.

Warner Bros.’ CD is nicely mastered, and features a decent narrative of Beltrami’s score which supports the film and smoothens some of the bigger suspensions of disbelief in an already epic take on the zombie film.

A podcast interview is also available.



© 2013 Mark R. Hasan

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