Spotlight On...Die Hard

The newest Spotlight On takes a look back at the Die Hard franchise.

Following Bruce Willis' John McClane, the films have been hits at the box office, and action film favorites.  We also get some composer continuity with Michael Kamen scoring films 1-3 and Marco Beltrami on the most recent installments.      

Here's a look back on the Die Hard films score by score. 

Die Hard (1988)
Music by Michael Kamen
Fresh off of Lethal Weapon, Kamen began composing more action scores.  Upon director John McTiernan's suggestion, a lot of the score uses music from various sources.  While we get a theme for John McClane, the use of Ode to Joy as Hans Gruber's theme is more memorable.  Listen for the mix of slow burner tense music, action cues and the mix of Winter Wonderland and sleigh bells in the score.  Don't forget to listen to the unused cue from Aliens in the finale!  (Just listen to: Gruber's Arrival, Welcome to the Party, Assault on the Tower, The Battle

Die Hard 2 (1990)
Music by Michael Kamen
Utilizing more original music, Kamen uses the classical piece Finlandia.  Not many connections between the scores besides Kamen's style.  New material includes the bamboo flutes for the villains, more prolonged action cues, and Herrmann-esque suspense.  (Just listen to: The Annexe Skywalk, Snowmobiles, The Terminal)

Die Hard with a Vengeance (1995)
Music by Michael Kamen
Following the previous format, When Johnny Comes Marching Home is the identifiable theme for the film.  Also included is some Brahms, Wagner and Beethoven instead of strong new themes.  The original album didn't include many of the best Kamen action moments, due to rewriting and deadlines.  (Just listen to: John and Zeus, Take A-nother Train, Waltz of the Bankers)

Life Free or Die Hard (2007)
Music by Marco Beltrami
Beltrami took over for this large action film.  He uses several Kamen-isms through the score including the brass blasts and the main motif.  Definitely a hard action score with pounding brass and percussion.  (Just listen to: Out of Bullets, It's a Fire Sale, Copter Chase, The F-35)

A Good Day to Die Hard (2013)
Music by Marco Beltrami
Beltrami continued the franchise, keeping the overall sound from the last (and hints of the previous Kamen scores).  The result is a louder and larger than life action score.  (Just listen to: Yuri Says, Truckzilla, Chopper Takedown, It's Hard to Kill a McClane)  

Check out the others!

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