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 Force Awakens “March of the Resistance” (2015)

When Star Wars: The Force Awakens arrived at theaters in 2015, John Williams proved that he hadn’t missed a step by filling the film with all kinds of musical themes. Heroes and villains alike were given their own memorable themes. “March of the Resistance” is one of the heroic themes and was written for the Resistance as a whole, though I feel it could also be applied to certain characters. Check out “March of the Resistance” below:

This theme arrives for the first time in the midst of the Battle of Takodana, just as our heroes have been taken captive by the First Order. It starts as the camera turns and reveals Resistance X-Wings are racing towards the ruins of Maz’s Castle led by Poe Dameron.

“March of the Resistance” is one of the more “classic” Star Wars themes that John Williams created for The Force Awakens. By “classic” I mean that this theme could easily fit into the original trilogy with its jaunty bass tones and upbeat rhythms. Think about it, doesn’t this theme feel like it could apply to the Rebellion just as much as the Resistance? Not only that, but I really feel this theme could apply to Poe Dameron as his own personal theme. It fits Poe perfectly: it’s brash, it’s loud, and it just oozes confidence, all qualities that the future Resistance general definitely possesses. I’m not sure if Poe has his own theme or motif, but if he doesn’t, I’m probably just going to apply this theme to him from now on because it is just too perfect for him.

This theme recurs at several points in the sequel trilogy after debuting here, most notably in The Rise of Skywalker when the Resistance is departing to bring the fight to the Final Order. It’s a very versatile theme, good for playing over sections of the film that show the Resistance in action. It’s also quite memorable, as its one theme from the sequel trilogy that I’ve found myself humming from time to time.

I hope you enjoyed listening to “March of the Resistance” from Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Let me know what you think about this theme in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Star Wars: The Force Awakens “Kylo Ren’s Theme” (2015)

Star Wars: The Force Awakens “Rey’s Theme” (2015)

Star Wars: The Last Jedi “The Spark” (2017)

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker “Kylo Ren’s Theme (Redeemed Version)” (2019)

Film Soundtracks A-W

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

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My Thoughts on: Pokémon Heroes: Latios and Latias (2002)

As my adventure through the Pokémon films continues, I made my way to Pokémon Heroes: Latios and Latias, the fifth Pokémon movie overall. This movie was released in 2002 and follows the adventures of Ash, Misty, and Brock in the town of Alto Mare (a place that bears a significant resemblance to Venice). This town is protected by two legendary Pokémon named Latios and Latias and, predictably, members of Team Rocket want these magnificent creatures for their own nefarious ends.

By and large I really liked Pokémon Heroes: Latios and Latias. Alto Mare is a beautifully rendered location with adorable Pokémon around every corner. There’s a fun opening scene with Ash and Misty taking part in a water-chariot race (Totodile is adorable). I was initially dismissive of the idea that there were Pokémon modeled after fighter jets, but that is indeed what Latios and Latias are and it just works! They’re incredibly cute (as most Pokémon are), and you can get a pretty good idea of what they’re saying to each other, an impressive feat since neither speaks a recognizable language. Also I think it’s really fun that Latios and Latias can take human form, though I am disappointed that we didn’t get to see the human form of Latios.

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That being said…there were a few things that bothered me with this movie. First of all, there’s the extremely limited presence of Brock and Misty in the film. By and large, these two don’t do very much, especially compared to the previous four films. Ash does most of the work this time. And then there’s the almost complete absence of Team Rocket (Jessie, James and Meowth) from this story. Really, aside from a glorified cameo, they don’t play any part in this story whatsoever and I am not okay with this. Here’s the thing, if you aren’t going to involve this trio in the story, then don’t include them at all. For that matter, Annie and Oakley are okay villains (I especially like Oakley’s power trip at the climax of the film), but we don’t really know that much about them (and no, that one line about Giovanni is not enough, I want backstory for my villains).

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Ultimately, while I enjoyed Pokémon Heroes: Latios and Latias, it is inferior to the first Pokémon movie (which admittedly set a pretty high bar). However, don’t let that stop you from checking this movie out. As with any lengthy film series, there are highs and lows, and this one just isn’t the best (it’s still fun though!)

Oh, and for what it’s worth, I’m pretty sure that’s Latias at the end of the film. I know it’s supposed to be up in the air, but I can’t see it being anyone else.

Let me know what you think about Pokémon Heroes: Latios and Latias in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

My Thoughts on: Pokemon-The First Movie: Mewtwo Strikes Back (1998)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon: The Movie 2000 (1999)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon 3: The Movie: Entei – Spell of the Unown (2000)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon 4Ever- Celebi – Voice of the Forest (2001)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon: Jirachi—Wish Maker (2003)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon Ranger and the Temple of the Sea (2006)

My Thoughts on: Pokémon: Detective Pikachu (2019)

Animated Film Reviews

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens “Rey’s Theme” (2015)

This is my honest opinion: if you try to tell me there are no great musical themes in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, then you haven’t been paying attention, because John Williams introduces a beautiful, original theme relatively early in the film. This is “Rey’s Theme” and it comes when, you guessed it, we first meet Rey living as a scavenger on Jakku.

 

The theme starts as Rey is leaving the ruins of the crashed Star Destroyer, having finished her work for the day. It starts off with a bit of whimsy, a soft chiming melody that soon grows into a flowing theme with the strings and woodwinds. This melody tells us several things: that Rey is young and idealistic (much as Luke Skywalker was many years ago), but also that she has her own inner strength even before she starts to use the Force. The former is heard in the opening part of the theme, and the inner strength is revealed when the strings come in, pushing the theme to new heights.

This original version of “Rey’s Theme” lays the foundation for several melodies to come in the sequel trilogy, particularly in The Rise of Skywalker. Williams will put this melody through several variations, altering it to meet Rey’s changing circumstances as the story progresses.

As a musical introduction to one of the most pivotal characters of the sequel trilogy, “Rey’s Theme” performs its purpose beautifully. This theme deserves to be remembered just as much as “The Force Theme”, “The Imperial March”, “Duel of the Fates” and any other classic Star Wars theme. For me, this theme is clear proof that John Williams is just as talented as ever when it comes to creating memorable film music themes.

I hope you enjoy listening to “Rey’s Theme” as originally heard in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, let me know what you think about it in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Star Wars: The Force Awakens “Kylo Ren’s Theme” (2015)

Star Wars: The Force Awakens “March of the Resistance” (2015)

Star Wars: The Last Jedi “The Spark” (2017)

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker “Kylo Ren’s Theme (Redeemed Version)” (2019)

Film Soundtracks A-W

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 🙂

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker “Kylo Ren’s Theme (Redeemed Version)” (2019)

*warning (in case you haven’t seen it): some plot details from The Rise of Skywalker are mentioned

I understand that Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker has polarized Star Wars fans in every way imaginable and likely will continue to do so for years to come. That being said, this film, as with all the others in the Skywalker Saga, is full of interesting musical moments that we’ll be spending years breaking down and analyzing.

One moment that caught my attention the very first time I saw the film in theaters comes at the end of film, just as the dust is settling from Rey’s climactic fight with Emperor Palpatine. It’s a short moment in a larger theme, but it essentially makes up Kylo Ren’s “redeemed” theme.

You can find this moment in the cue “Farewell” starting around the 0:50 mark. In the film itself, it starts the moment we see Ben’s hand emerge from that crack in the ground, revealing that he is, in fact, alive and didn’t fall to his death.

 

In strictly technical terms, this is the same theme we’ve heard for Kylo Ren all along. The notes haven’t changed all that much…but how they’re presented is. Gone is the harsh brass, the loud, angry tones. Instead, we have a soft theme gliding along in the strings and woodwinds. In essence, this is John Williams making it as clear as possible that Kylo Ren is indeed dead and gone, that this is a changed man before us crawling and making his way towards Rey.

But as with anything John Williams does, there’s a lot more going on just in this short moment. As the redeemed theme emerges, it begins to layer on itself, building and growing as the layers rebound off one another. All of this symbolizes Ben’s grief at finding Rey dead and the battle over. How incredible is it that all of this happens in just a short space of time? It’s so effective, which is why this is one of my favorite musical moments in the entire sequel trilogy.

And of course, there is yet another connection to Ben’s grandfather Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader. You see, this isn’t the first time a Star Wars villain’s music has changed to a milder, “redeemed” style. All the way back in Return of the Jedi, Williams did something very similar for the cue “Darth Vader’s Death” (starting around 0:48)

 

Sounds familiar doesn’t it? It’s the same Imperial March, same notes and all that, but it’s been moved to the strings and sounds a lot more mild, just like what we hear in The Rise of Skywalker. I’m fairly certain that John Williams did this on purpose, to heighten the connection between Ben and his grandfather. It seems that Ben is exactly like Anakin after all, angry in life and redeemed at the moment of death.

Let me know what you think about Kylo Ren’s “redeemed” theme in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

The Empire Strikes Back: “The Imperial March” by John Williams

Star Wars: Return of the Jedi “Final Duel” (1983)

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

Star Wars: Rebels “It’s Over Now”

Star Wars: The Force Awakens “Kylo Ren’s Theme” (2015)

Star Wars: The Force Awakens “Rey’s Theme” (2015)

Star Wars: The Force Awakens “March of the Resistance” (2015)

Star Wars: The Last Jedi “The Spark” (2017)

Film Soundtracks A-W

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

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Star Wars: Return of the Jedi “Final Duel” (1983)

While it’s fairly common now to have epic lightsaber duels with equally epic soundtracks backing them up, it’s easy to remember that this wasn’t always the case. The first lightsaber duel (in Episode IV) had no music until the very end, and even the iconic duel in Episode V has minimal music in the background. The action was more of the focus at this time, music just didn’t play that large a role, presumably because it was felt it would be a distraction.

And then came Episode VI, with the final lightsaber duel between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader (with the Emperor watching).

This duel changed everything as far as the relationship between lightsaber action and film music is concerned. For the first time, the music firmly established the tone of the fight, not only that, it also illustrated what was at stake. For this reason and more, I need to talk with about the “Final Duel” cue in Return of the Jedi.

 

This cue comes at the very end of the duel between Vader and Luke. It starts when Luke has fallen from the gantry and Vader is hunting for him in the shadows below the Emperor’s throne. I’m pretty sure this is low woodwinds in the beginning, but it could easily be low strings as well. Regardless of instrumentation, this opening portion screams of the menacing evil personified in Vader as he hunts for his son. Furthermore, Luke himself is fighting the urge to give in to the Dark Side, something the music could also be symbolizing.

 

But this is just the beginning. After Vader comes to the conclusion that Luke has a twin sister (note the *crash* in the music as Vader makes the connection), the music ups the ante. Take note, when Vader begins the line “If *you” will not turn to the Dark Side…” listen to how the strings begin to rev up and join the melody. They sound tightly coiled, as if ready to spring and boy, do they ever! Once Vader makes his threat to turn Luke’s sister to the Dark Side, all hell breaks loose, both physically and musically speaking. (And on a practical note, the sudden appearance of the strings could also be helping to transition between the opening part of this cue and the climax).

For over twenty years this has been my favorite piece of music in all of Star Wars. When Luke gives in to his anger and lunges at Vader with all of his fury, you KNOW this is it, this is the critical moment, and it’s all because of the music. This is the first time John Williams paired a choir with the lightsaber duel, and it works to perfection. The chorus is mournful as we watch Luke chase Vader across the scene, a reminder that this is a BAD thing we are watching, if Luke goes all the way, he’s doomed. This all culminates in a series of brass “strokes” not quite timed with Luke’s own hits until finally…WHAM!! There’s a musical “blow” as Luke cuts off Vader’s hand, effectively ending the cue as the music transitions to the Emperor’s Theme in full force (no pun intended).

I have to go back through, to the key moment in the duel when Luke gives in to the Dark Side because I can’t emphasize enough how powerful this part is. The music here is simple, but extremely effective. Sure, it’s child’s play compared to “Duel of the Fates” and “Battle of the Heroes” but it’s safe to say that “Final Duel” provided the genesis of both of those themes by proving that film music and lightsaber duels work very well together.

If you’re going to properly appreciate all of the lightsaber duels and their music, then you really need to start here, with the climax of Luke and Vader’s duel in Episode VI. This scene laid the foundation for so much that was to come later and I will defend the awesomeness of this scene forever.

Let me know what you think about “Final Duel” in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

The Empire Strikes Back: “The Imperial March” by John Williams

Star Wars: The Force Awakens “Kylo Ren’s Theme” (2015)

Star Wars: The Last Jedi “The Spark” (2017)

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker “Kylo Ren’s Theme (Redeemed Version)” (2019)

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

Star Wars: Rebels “It’s Over Now”

Film Soundtracks A-W

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 🙂