Category Archives: Disney

Soundtrack Review: Star Wars: The Clone Wars-The Final Season (Episodes 1-4) (2020)

Now that we’re a third of the way through the final season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Disney has released the official soundtrack for the first four episodes. This covers soundtrack excerpts for “The Bad Batch”, “A Distant Echo”, “On the Wings of Keeradaks”, and “Unfinished Business.”

If you’ve been following the final season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars on Disney+ then you know the music has been as brilliant as ever. There have been callbacks to some classic Star Wars motifs, and plenty of action as only composer Kevin Kiner can deliver it.

Kiner said (of this season): “It has been such a fantastic ride scoring ‘Clone Wars’ and working with Dave Filoni and George Lucas was a dream come true. I feel like season seven is everything we all wanted ‘Clone Wars’ to be, top to bottom.  From the music to the animation to the story lines to the directing, this is the show I always wanted to be a part of!”

The release dates for the remaining soundtrack releases are as follows (hopefully the coronavirus will not delay them):

4/10: Star Wars: The Clone Wars – The Final Season (Episodes 5-8)
5/4: Star Wars: The Clone Wars – The Final Season (Episodes 9-12)

 

Tracklist

  1. Star Wars Main Title & A Galaxy Divided
  2. Misplaced Hope
  3. Droids Approaching
  4. Clones Retreat
  5. Anakin and Padmé
  6. Chase in the Sky
  7. Poltechs
  8. Search Party
  9. Escape Route
  10. Walkers Battle
  11. Mission Begins
  12. Ticking Time Bomb
  13. Bad Batch Heroics
  14. Finest Troopers

Enjoy the new soundtrack release for Star Wars: The Clone Wars and have a great day!

See also:

Star Wars: The Clone Wars “Bad Batch Theme” (2020)

Film Soundtracks A-W

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My Thoughts on: Onward (2020)

Onward is a film that I’ve been pretty excited about ever since it was announced because, let’s face it, in a world dominated by ongoing franchises, sequels, reboots, etc., you don’t see wholly original stories all that often. This is one such example and it lived up to pretty much all of my expectations.

The story is set in a fantasy world turned on its head. Imagine a world filled with unicorns, mermaids, elves, fairies, even manticores…but modernized. Instead of using magic, modern technology took over. Enter Ian and Barley Lightfoot (Tom Holland and Chris Pratt respectively), two brothers who have an amazing opportunity thrust upon them: the chance to be reunited with their late father for one day only. This revelation sends the brothers on an insane quest to achieve the impossible.

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I’m not sure where to even start because there is so much to love about Onward. First of all, Tom Holland and Chris Pratt are fantastic together. I’ll bet anything they recorded lines together because the chemistry between the two is off the charts. Also, there’s something just inherently funny about all of these fantasy creatures living in a modern suburban environment. I know this is hardly the first story to put fantasy creatures in a modern setting, but the way Onward does it is just a lot of fun. Outside of the Lightfoot brothers, my favorite character is the Manticore, she is in one of my favorite moments in the entire film.

The setting of New Mushroomton is beautifully rendered and contains a lot of Easter Eggs. I won’t spoil any of them but there’s one pretty early in the film that made everybody in the theater laugh. Also, fans of Dungeons and Dragons will likely love this movie because one of the major plot elements is basically straight out of a D&D book (the film doesn’t call it that but the reference is obvious). And the one spoiler I will mention: the fact that all of the spells in the roleplaying book are real is just funny.

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The quest, once it gets started, is mostly hilarious though (this being Disney/Pixar) there are some serious twists and turns before it’s all over. Onward deals several emotional gut punches, none of which I can discuss for spoiler reasons, but believe me when I say that you will need tissues before the end credits roll. It’s very satisfying to watch Ian and Barley grow throughout the story. The ending will probably surprise you, by the way, but I do understand why Disney/Pixar went the route they did. It’s very atypical for this kind of story, and it’s nice that the studio tried something new.

All in all, I highly recommend Onward to anyone wanting to have a good time at the movies. I would be more than willing to go see a sequel, as this is a world I very much want to visit again. Bravo to everyone who helped create such a beautiful story and bravo to Disney/Pixar for creating something original!

Let me know what you think about Onward in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Animated Film Reviews

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Star Wars: The Clone Wars “Bad Batch Theme” (2020)

To the immense joy of Star Wars fans everywhere, episode 1 of season 7 of Star Wars: The Clone Wars finally premiered on Disney+. Not only does this new season reunite the original voice cast, it also sees the return of composer Kevin Kiner to the 12 episode season. Honored with multiple Emmy and Annie nominations, as well as 12 BMI awards, Kevin Kiner is one of the most versatile and sought-after composers in Hollywood. In creating intimate soloistic guitar music over the grim realities of the Juarez Cartel, to grand orchestral music for a galaxy far, far away, Kevin’s wide musical range has allowed him to take on such diverse projects as Netflix’s hit series Narcos: Mexico, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Showtime’s City on a Hill, AMC’s Hell on Wheels, CW’s Jane the Virgin, CBS’s CSI: Miami, and Netflix’s Making a Murderer.

The first piece of music released from the final season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars is the “Bad Batch Theme”, the main musical theme heard in the first episode. You can listen to this theme below

This theme shares all the hallmarks of a good Star Wars theme as established by John Williams: a rich, brass sound bound together with a strong melodic framework. It could be coincidence, but portions of the “Bad Batch Theme” put me in mind of John Williams’ “March of the Resistance” (one of the best motifs that came out of the sequel trilogy). There’s a certain thematic similarity that sticks in my mind every time I heard that theme. It would be interesting to know if Kevin Kiner had that motif in mind at all when he put the “Bad Batch Theme” together.

Aside from the release of the “Bad Batch Theme” there are three further soundtrack releases scheduled featuring music from the new season. Those release dates are as follows:

3/13: Star Wars: The Clone Wars – The Final Season (Episodes 1-4)
4/10: Star Wars: The Clone Wars – The Final Season (Episodes 5-8)
5/4: Star Wars: The Clone Wars – The Final Season (Episodes 9-12)

“The Bad Batch” is only the first episode in a 12 episode season that will conclude The Clone Wars in the manner they’ve always deserved:

Now it is the end of the historic Clone Wars, as the forces of darkness have amassed great power in their bid to transform the Republic into the Galactic Empire. In the conflict’s final days, clone troopers specialize for the dangerous missions ahead, Ahsoka Tano confronts life outside of the Jedi Order, and a familiar menace returns to wreak havoc. The explosive final chapters of the Clone Wars chronicle the end of a major era in Star Wars history. 

Let me know what you think about the “Bad Batch Theme” in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Star Wars: Rebels “It’s Over Now”

Film Soundtracks A-W

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Hercules “Zero to Hero” (1997)

I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but Hercules is one of my favorite films from the Disney Renaissance era. By this time (1997), the Renaissance had been in full swing for almost a decade, and everyone involved really had gotten what they needed to do down pat.

Case in point: “Zero to Hero” is a prime example of the perfect Disney song. It picks up immediately after Hercules’ victory over the Hydra and consists of the Muses narrating the young hero’s rise to fame through song, unwittingly defeating all of Hades’ attempts to stop him in the process.

 

Bless my soul
Herc was on a roll
Person of the week in every Greek opinion poll
What a pro
Herc could stop a show
Point him at a monster and you’re talking S.R.O.
He was a no one
A zero, zero
Now he’s a honcho
He’s a hero
Here was a kid with his act down pat
From zero to hero ― in no time flat
Zero to hero ― just like that

When he smiled
The girls went wild with oohs and aahs
And they slapped his face
On every vase (on every “vahse”)

Zero_to_Hero

From appearance fees and royalties
Our Herc had cash to burn
Now nouveau riche and famous
He could tell you what’s a Grecian urn

Say amen
There he goes again
Sweet and undefeated
And an awesome 10 for 10
Folks lined up
Just to watch him flex
And this perfect package packed a pair of pretty pecs

Hercie, he comes, he sees, he conquers
Honey, the crowds were going bonkers
He showed the moxie brains, and spunk
From zero to hero ― a major hunk
Zero to hero ― and who’da thunk?

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Who put the glad in gladiator?
Hercules!
Whose daring deeds are great theater?
Hercules!
Is he bold?
No one braver
Is he sweet?
Our favorite flavor

Hercules
Hercules
Hercules
Hercules
Hercules
Hercules

Bless my soul
Herc was on a roll
Undefeated
Riding high
And the nicest guy
Not conceited

He was a nothin’
A zero, zero
Now he’s a honcho
He’s a hero

He hit the heights at breakneck speed
From zero to hero
Herc is a hero
Now he’s a hero
Yes indeed!

Now one thing you may not know about this song is that a live-action version was shot as reference material. Yes, even after all these years, in the 1990s Disney still used the trick of shooting certain sequences in live-action before animating them. And thanks to the wonderful creation known as YouTube, I can show that footage to you!

 

The sequence is intercut with the live-action muses and storyboards. What’s interesting, if you pay attention, is how the story change from the storyboard phase to the finished product. For instance, in the segment where Hercules takes down a giant serpent, it appears in the storyboard that they had the idea of having a Gorgon (Medusa maybe?) as his opponent. I love getting to see behind-the-scenes moment like this, and I hope you enjoy watching it as well.

It’s a great song, and it really makes it appear that Hercules is well on his way to becoming a true hero. But is he really? Well…this IS a Disney movie, so you know things won’t be quite THAT easy. However, that’s a story for another day.

Let me know what you think about “Zero to Hero” in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Hercules “Gospel Truth” (1997)

Hercules “Gospel Truth II & III” (1997)

Hercules “Go the Distance” (1997)

Hercules “One Last Hope” (1997)

Hercules “I Won’t Say I’m in Love” (1997)

Disney/Dreamworks/Pixar/etc. Soundtracks A-Z

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John Powell talks Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)

At the tail end of Disney’s short-lived attempt to produce a new Star Wars film every single year (a feat that I predicted wouldn’t last long), came Solo: A Star Wars Story, the second (and so far final) anthology film set in the Star Wars universe. As the title implies, the film gives us the backstory of Han Solo and gives us an idea of how he met up with Chewbacca, acquired the Millennium Falcon, and so on.

 

Given that Solo came on the heels of The Last Jedi, it surprised few people when this film didn’t do so well at the box office. Which is a shame, given that Solo has a particularly good score. John Powell did the honors, while John Williams helped by putting together the film’s main theme.

I’ll agree that Solo isn’t the best entry in the Star Wars universe as a whole, but that doesn’t mean its fabulous score should be neglected. John Powell really did the score justice, and proved that it is possible to have a good Star Wars score that wasn’t composed by John Williams (something we’ll have to get used to now that he’s retired from composing for Star Wars films).

To gain some insight into how the score for Solo: A Star Wars Story was put together, please enjoy this full-length interview that was conducted with John Powell last year. I found the interview to be full of great insights and i hope you enjoy it.

Let me know what you think of the interview in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

John Powell talks How to Train Your Dragon 2 (2014)

My Thoughts on: Solo: A Star Wars Story (with spoilers!) (2018)

Film Composer Interviews A-H

Film Composer Interviews K-Z

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Frozen “For the First Time in Forever (reprise)” (2013)

The reprise of “For the First Time in Forever” is an interesting musical moment and an intriguing situation because there are several things happening at once. The most important thing is that Anna has succeeded in locating Elsa and is now attempting to persuade her to come home and undo the eternal winter she created when she fled Arendelle. On the surface, this seems like a great plan but it is automatically doomed to failure for a number of reasons.

Most of these reasons lie with Anna herself due to a problem that’s been developing since we first heard “For the First Time in Forever.” Here’s the thing: all this time Anna has been living in a completely different story from Elsa. Anna, up to this moment, is still the stereotypical Disney Princess: happy, bubbly, eternally optimistic, and a firm believer that “true love at first sight” can fix everything. Not only does this make her diametrically opposed to her sister and how she thinks, she also has no idea of what Elsa has been going through in trying to keep her ice powers hidden all this time, and is therefore going about her plan all the wrong way.

You don’t have to protect me. I’m not afraid!
Please don’t shut me out again
Please don’t slam the door
You don’t have to keep your distance anymore

‘Cause for the first time in forever
I finally understand
For the first time in forever
We can fix this hand in hand

We can head down this mountain together!
You don’t have to live in fear
‘Cause for the first time in forever
I will be right here

—————————–

Elsa tries gently to tell Anna to go home before she accidentally does something to make the situation worse, but Anna isn’t listening. She’s so convinced she can just “fix” this situation that she’s not taking in what Elsa is saying and, well, things get worse from there.

Anna…
Please go back home, your life awaits
Go enjoy the sun and open up the gates

Yeah, but-

I know!
You mean well, but leave me be
Yes, I’m alone but I’m alone and free!
Just stay away and you’ll be safe from me

Actually, we’re not
What do you mean you’re not?
I get the feeling you don’t know
What do I not know?
Arendelle’s in deep, deep, deep, deep… snow.

What?
You’ve kind of set off an eternal winter… everywhere.
Everywhere?
It’s okay, you can just unfreeze it.
No, I can’t. I— I don’t know how!
Sure you can! I know you can!

This is it, the crux of the entire scene and the climax of this reprise. We have Elsa and Anna singing two different songs at the same time. Anna’s convinced that her optimism will make this all better while Elsa is rapidly spiraling out of control with fear and self-loathing. She tries one last time to get Anna to stop forcing the issue (“Anna, please, you’ll only make it worse!”) but her sister still isn’t listening. And then it comes, the moment that gets to me every single time: Elsa’s second to last note (“I”) morphs into an almost primal cry of frustration before she finally snaps out “I CAN’T!” and loses her temper, setting the second half of the film into motion.

Anna: (Elsa:)
‘Cause for the first time in forever
(Oh, I’m such a fool, I can’t be free)
You don’t have to be afraid
(No escape from the storm inside of me)
We can work this out together
(I can’t control the curse)
We’ll reverse the storm you’ve made
(Anna, please, you’ll only make it worse!)

Don’t panic
(There’s so much fear)
We’ll make the sun shine bright!
(You’re not safe here)
We can face this thing together
(No…)
We can change this winter weather
(I…)
And everything will be all right…
(I can’t!!!)

I would never go so far to say that Anna brought this on herself, but this sequence does show why it’s not always wise to persistently offer help to someone when you don’t fully know the situation. Of course Anna means well, but her lack of information (admittedly not her fault since Elsa has kept her ice powers to herself since childhood) leads to catastrophic consequences in a sequence that is heart wrenching to watch.

Let me know what you think about the reprise of “For the First Time in Forever” in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Frozen “Frozen Heart” (2013)

Frozen “For the First Time in Forever” (2013)

Frozen “Love is an Open Door” (2013)

Frozen “Let it Go” (2013)

Frozen “In Summer” (2013)

Disney/Dreamworks/Pixar/etc. Soundtracks A-Z

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Frozen “In Summer” (2013)

Frozen has some genuinely funny moments scattered throughout its story, and one of the funniest happens with Olaf’s song “In Summer.” To recap, while making their way to Elsa’s ice castle in the mountains, Anna and Kristoff encounter Olaf, a living snowman that Elsa unwittingly made while fleeing Arendelle. Olaf is an interesting character in that he is a snowman fascinated with summertime and heat, two things that are definitely not healthy for a being made of snow.

Yet, Olaf seems blissfully unaware of the fact that experiencing summertime and heat is impossible for someone like him, as he breaks into song about all the things he can’t wait to experience when summer arrives.

Bees’ll buzz
Kids’ll blow dandelion fuzz
And I’ll be doing whatever snow does in summer

A drink in my hand
My snow up against the burning sand
Prob’ly getting gorgeously tanned in summer

I’ll finally see a summer breeze blow away a winter storm
And find out what happens to solid water when it gets warm

And I can’t wait to see
What my buddies all think of me
Just imagine how much cooler I’ll be in summer

Dah-dah, da-doo, a-bah-bah-bah bah-bah-boo

The hot and the cold are both so intense
Put ’em together, it just makes sense!

Rrr-raht da-daht dah-dah-dah dah-dah-dah dah dah doo

Winter’s a good time to stay in and cuddle
But put me in summer and I’ll be a…happy snowman!

When life gets rough, I like to hold on to my dream
Of relaxing in the summer sun, just lettin’ off steam

Oh, the sky will be blue
And you guys will be there too
When I finally do what frozen things do in summer!

Kristoff: I’m gonna tell him.
Anna: Don’t you dare!

In summer!

Olaf is so delightfully clueless throughout the entire song. It’s also really funny to see a snowman dancing through a field of dandelions. Of course the answer for what “frozen things do in summer” is evident throughout, but Olaf either won’t acknowledge it or just doesn’t get it. The funniest moment of all, in a semi-dark way, is at the very end when Olaf sings about “But put me in summer and I’ll be a…happy snowman!” The rhyme, of course, should be puddle to go with cuddle in the preceding line, but Olaf deftly sidesteps the rhyme and goes his own way.

“In Summer” is a really funny interlude before things start to get dark in the story. Let me know what you think about “In Summer” in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Frozen “Frozen Heart” (2013)

Frozen “For the First Time in Forever” (2013)

Frozen “Love is an Open Door” (2013)

Frozen “Let it Go” (2013)

Frozen “For the First Time in Forever (reprise)” (2013)

Disney/Dreamworks/Pixar/etc. Soundtracks A-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