Tag Archives: Star Wars

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

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Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

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 🙂

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

Something I was really excited about when the sequel trilogy was announced was finding out all of the new music John Williams would create for the galaxy far far away. After all, this is the composer who brought us “The Imperial March” as well as the Star Wars Overture, just to name two of many, MANY examples. We’ll be arguing for years about how these themes stack up against the musical themes created for the original trilogy, but for now I’ll be satisfied in just looking at the sequel trilogy themes that interest me the most.

One such theme that I want to talk about is the theme for Kylo Ren, the primary villain for most of the sequel trilogy. Well, properly speaking this is more of a motif than a proper theme. The difference is in length: a theme, like “The Imperial March” is somewhat longer, lasting for several minutes while a motif consists of a bare handful of notes in comparison. Listen below, the motif comes around the 0:50 mark and I’ll explain after.

 

You hear that, right? Those five notes? That’s the sum total of Kylo Ren’s theme. It doesn’t seem like much at first glance, but there’s really a lot going on here. First, the sharp tone of that brass is designed to grab your attention, this is a character to pay attention to. As a result, even before we know who Kylo Ren is, we know that this is someone important. Second, and more importantly, these five notes are actually related to “The Imperial March.”

For instance, here’s the first part of “The Imperial March” below:

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Now, look at Kylo Ren’s Theme:

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To see the similarity, compare the last five notes of the “Imperial March” motif to Kylo Ren’s Theme. Notice how they move in the same way? If it helps, hum the last part of “The Imperial March” and then hum Kylo Ren’s Theme to yourself. They’re not identical by any means, but the similarity is there.

And how fitting is it that Kylo Ren’s theme be derived from “The Imperial March”?? This is Darth Vader’s grandson after all, musically speaking it makes all the sense in the world that their themes would have a connection. It’s also a great way to musically connect the original trilogy to the sequel trilogy, even if the connection isn’t that obvious at first glance.

This is yet another example of John Williams’ musical genius at work. He can go back to a theme he created decades ago and derive something completely new from it. Not all composers can do that AND do it well, and Williams handles it masterfully. This is just one example of how well the master can work.

Let me know what you think about this look at Kylo Ren’s Theme in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

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

Star Wars: Rebels “It’s Over Now”

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

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)

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 Last Jedi “The Spark” (2017)

My general opinion of The Last Jedi has changed a great deal since I first saw the movie in 2017, but one thing that hasn’t changed is my love of the film’s soundtrack. It’s been my longstanding opinion that the Star Wars soundtrack as a whole is one of the greatest film music creations ever made and the music for The Last Jedi is up there with some of the best themes Williams ever created.

“The Spark” is one such theme and one I’ve wanted to talk about for a while. It occurs very late in the film, when Luke Skywalker appears out of nowhere in the remains of the Rebel base on Crait. Most of the cue, starting around 1:00 is actually from a Return of the Jedi theme known as “Luke and Leia” and plays when Luke finally reunites with his twin sister. You would know this as the music that plays in ROTJ when Luke reveals that Leia is his twin. It’s pretty much the same theme all over again and it really is perfect for this scene that happens to be the first and sadly, only, time we see Luke and Leia together in the sequel trilogy (everything after this was done with body doubles and CGI so it doesn’t really “count” for me if that makes sense).

After this memorable theme runs its course, then the fun really starts. Starting around 2:15 the music begins to morph into something different but it doesn’t latch onto the new theme until around 2:30. From that point on, the music enters a weird march-like motif that might sound odd at first, or vaguely familiar depending on your point of view. There’s a deep, booming motif that repeats over and over again as Luke strides out to confront the First Order and his wayward nephew Kylo Ren. As you listen to it, you might realize that this is actually from the bass line of The Imperial March, known the world over as “Darth Vader’s theme.”

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Think of the symbolism in this choice on the composer’s part. We have Luke Skywalker, Jedi, hero of the Rebellion, etc. and so on, marching out to face the evil First Order to more or less the tune of the Imperial March. I don’t know if it’s merely ironic or also meant to send a message, maybe something to the effect that it’s Luke who has the power and authority that Kylo has always sought but will never find because he’s too much of a hothead. It could be I’m thinking too much into it but it always sends chills down my spine to hear the remnants of that immortal theme when Luke walks out, all alone, to stare the enemy down.

Some people gave John Williams a lot of flack for not creating a new Imperial March or something equivalent for the sequel trilogy, but I really feel he didn’t need to, and “The Spark” is a prime reason why. It’s a combination of the old and new that lends sadness and power to this scene in a way that only Williams can make possible.

Enjoy listening to “The Spark” from Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Let me know your thoughts about this moment 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 Force Awakens “Rey’s Theme” (2015)

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

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 🙂

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

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 🙂

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

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 🙂

My Thoughts on: The Mandalorian, Season 1 (2019)

As much as I love Star Wars, I will admit to being slightly dubious when I first heard about The Mandalorian, a show that is exclusive to Disney+. It’s not that I didn’t doubt the casting or talent behind the production, I was just more interested in learning if there would be any new productions featuring Ahsoka. Any doubts I did have quickly vanished once Disney+ arrived. One season in, The Mandalorian is a brilliant addition to the Star Wars universe, albeit one that’s currently left me with more questions than answers.

Let’s start with a few background details. First there’s the timing of this show: in the grand scheme of things, The Mandalorian is set 5 years post-Return of the Jedi. So the Emperor is dead, Vader is dead, there’s no Death Star, and nominally the New Republic is in charge of the galaxy. In truth though, taking out the Empire has left a power vacuum in large chunks of the galaxy, leaving many to scramble to get by as well as they can, which is where the titular Mandalorian comes in. He’s a bounty hunter, a good one too. But his bounty hunting lifestyle is turned upside down when he accepts one particular job.

mandalorian-2019-1.jpg

By the time the first episode was over, I was completely hooked on this show. The Mandalorian feels like Star Wars in a way that’s hard for me to put into words. From the gritty details, to the many, MANY hidden Easter eggs throughout the season, everything in this season just fits into the existing mythos. That being said, there are a few things this season left me thinking about, the first of which is baby Yoda.

I wish a camera could’ve recorded the look on my face when baby Yoda was first revealed (yes, I know that isn’t actually Yoda, but the name is cute). Of all the things I thought the asset could be…this wasn’t it. This is one of the details I have so many questions about: where did he come from? What is his name? What did the Client want with him? Was baby Yoda originally a youngling at the Temple? (hey, he’s 50 years old, that last one is technically possible) I’m hoping that at least some of these questions are addressed in season 2, because I need answers!

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Another major question, and one that I suspect will be answered next month: what the frack happened on Mandalore? Better question, what happened to Mandalore? I ask this question for several reasons. The first is that the Mandalorians are revealed to be few in number and in hiding, something that was not true the last time we saw any Mandalorians. The fact that the Darksaber is in the hands of an Imperial Moff (more on that in a moment) means that something really bad happened. Keep in mind, the last time we saw the Darksaber, it was about a year before the Battle of Yavin and it had been given to Bo-Katan Kryze by Sabine Wren. The latter was going to unite Mandalore against the Empire, a plan that obviously failed spectacularly. I’m hoping that the upcoming last season of The Clone Wars will give some insight into part of what happened to Mandalore, or at least lay the foundations for it.

Another thing, holy crap the Darksaber has made its live-action debut and I still can’t quite believe it. For those who might not know, the Darksaber is a legendary lightsaber made by a Mandalorian Jedi named Tarre Vizsla thousands of years ago during the Old Republic. Unlike traditional lightsabers, the Darksaber has a black blade, one shaped to look like a sword. The Darksaber eventually became associated with the rule of Mandalore itself, with would-be leaders challenging for the right to wield the blade and rule the planet. It cannot be overstated how important the Darksaber is to any surviving Mandalorians. Once it gets out that Moff Gideon has the Darksaber….oh heads will roll in an attempt to get it back.

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And speaking of Moff Gideon…who is he? How did he get his hands on the Darksaber?? And am I the only one who noticed that his armor bears a distinct resemblance to Vader’s? I’m secretly hoping Gideon gets introduced in the last season of The Clone Wars, because I need to learn more about this character as soon as possible.

Hopefully all of these ramblings demonstrate that I really, really liked The Mandalorian and I’m really excited for season 2 when it arrives this fall.

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

See also:

TV Reviews

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 🙂

 

My Thoughts on: Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)

(author’s note: I’m BACK everyone!!)

2019 will definitely be remembered as a time of endings in cinema. Not only did this year see the 11 year Infinity Saga come to an end with Avengers: Endgame, it also saw the Skywalker Saga come to a close with the release of Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker.

And what an ending it is! This is a movie that I’ve been looking forward to for two years and after the teaser trailer revealed that the Emperor would be returning (a moment that completely blew my mind I assure you), I was more eager than ever to see how the final installment would play out. And while my many theories all proved to be woefully incorrect, that didn’t change the fact that I loved this film. Don’t let the critics turn you off from seeing The Rise of Skywalker, it IS a good story and a great conclusion…provided you go in with a completely open mind as to how the story can end.

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Now, I will admit that The Rise of Skywalker isn’t a perfect film by any means. Could the film have done better in explaining how the Emperor returned? Yes, it could’ve. Could a certain plot point with a certain First Order spy (name withheld because spoilers) have been expanded upon? Oh most definitely. And could we have had a lot more Force ghosts? Yup, no doubt. But really these are minor nitpicks and not gaping plot holes. Of course no movie is going to be completely perfect, and I wish people would remember that more often.

One thing this film gets completely right is its treatment of Carrie Fisher’s final appearance. As you’ve probably heard, all of her footage (minus one scene) was taken from deleted footage created for Episode VII. I wasn’t sure what that would look like going in but it works. It doesn’t feel awkward, but it does make certain scenes very emotional when you remember that Carrie isn’t here anymore. Well done to J.J Abrams and company for getting this right.

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The lightsaber battles were everything I hoped for and more. My favorite is the fight between Rey and Kylo Ren among the ruins of the second Death Star. It’s full of such raw emotion, as all the fights in the sequel trilogy have been, and the ending of this particular fight had me in tears. I have to say that it will be hard not seeing Adam Driver in Star Wars movies anymore (note: I’m not spoiling anything, Driver has said he’s moved on from the character), he’s quickly become one of my favorite parts of the sequel trilogy, and his style of lightsaber combat is a lot of fun to watch. I will admit I didn’t see his character arc going where it did, but Abrams did a really good job with it, so I’m okay with it too.

Another thing I liked about The Rise of Skywalker are the many surprises littered throughout the film. Some you’ll know about from the previews, and some you will not see coming. Of course there is one BIG spoiler that is likely dividing fans as I write this, but I for one am okay with it, even though it did torpedo my “Rey is a Skywalker clone” theory into oblivion. If you take a moment and think about it, this particular reveal is entirely plausible, and it does make a lot more sense than some of the theories I heard. Also, on a random note: D-O is my new favorite Star Wars droid.

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And it wouldn’t be a Star Wars review if I didn’t take a minute to talk about the music. For one final time, John Williams knocks it out of the park with a fantastic score that ties everything together. Since this is the final entry in the Skywalker Saga, there are a lot of musical callbacks, especially to the original trilogy. There isn’t nearly as much prequel trilogy music as I would’ve liked, but it’s also entirely possible that Williams tried to incorporate some of those themes and it just didn’t work out.

I will close by stating again that The Rise of Skywalker is a good film and a good conclusion to the nine film saga. Having rewatched Episodes I-VIII before seeing this film, I can say that this film fits in perfectly with all the rest. I’m still a little sad that there won’t be any further adventures with Rey or Poe or Finn, but at least now I can go back and watch the complete saga whenever I want. Bravo to everyone who worked over the last 42 years to bring not only The Rise of Skywalker, but all the Star Wars saga films to life.

Let me know what you think about The Rise of Skywalker in the comments below (keep it civil please) and have a great day! I’m happy to be back blogging once more!

See also:

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

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016), My Thoughts!!

My Thoughts on: Star Wars (1977)

My Thoughts on: Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Film Reviews

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

Michael Giacchino scoring Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, was a first in several ways for Star Wars. Not only was it the first anthology film, telling the story of how the Death Star plans were stolen by the Rebel Alliance, but it was also the first Star Wars film to be scored by someone other than John Williams. Instead, scoring duties went to Michael Giacchino (after Alexandre Desplat had to pull out), which had me excited but very nervous. While I’m a big fan of Giacchino’s work, the music of Star Wars has always had a special place in my heart and I was very nervous that the soundtrack wouldn’t live up to the high bar set by John Williams in the past.

 

I shouldn’t have worried because, as the scoring session linked above shows, quite a bit of care went into putting the score for Rogue One together. Giacchino was careful (for the most part) to interweave Williams’ famous music with his own creations, creating a sound that is definitely Star Wars, but also new. I’ve always enjoyed watching videos of scoring sessions, I have a goal that someday I’ll be able to watch one (or at least part of one) in person. I hope you enjoy this behind-the-scenes look at the scoring of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Let me know what you think about Rogue One in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Michael Giacchino talks The Incredibles (2004)

Michael Giacchino talks Mission: Impossible 3 (2006)

Michael Giacchino talks Ratatouille (2007)

Michael Giacchino talks Up (2009)

Michael Giacchino talks Star Trek (2009)

Michael Giacchino talks Super 8 (2011)

Michael Giacchino talks John Carter (2012)

Michael Giacchino talks Star Trek: Into Darkness (2013)

Michael Giacchino talks Jupiter Ascending (2015)

Michael Giacchino talks Jurassic World (2015)

Michael Giacchino talks Zootopia (2016)

Michael Giacchino talks Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018)

Film Composer Interviews A-H

Film Composer Interviews K-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

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

*warning, spoilers abound, turn back if you don’t want to know!

Considering I went in with absolutely zero expectations, Solo: A Star Wars Story was much better than I thought it would be. As expected from the previews, the film explains how Han Solo first met Chewbacca, Lando Calrissian and how he came into possession of the Millennium Falcon.

The bulk of the story revolves around Han making the famous “Kessel Run” in order to help smuggler and thief Tobias Beckett pay a debt to the fearsome crime syndicate Crimson Dawn. The situation becomes slightly complicated when he finds out his some-time girlfriend Qi’ra is now a top lieutenant in the organization.

Let’s start this review off by getting the parts I didn’t like out of the way:

-Lady Proxima: As cool as it was to see Corellia onscreen for the first time, the more I thought about the opening sequence, the more I realized it was completely unnecessary. Han’s entire escape from the planet could have been easily narrated in an opening crawl and we could’ve jumped straight into that mud planet scene where Han meets Beckett and his crew. Not only that, but why bother introducing a character like Lady Proxima (who DID look pretty cool in a gruesome way) if she’s only going to be onscreen for less than five minutes and then never be seen or heard from for the rest of the film?

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-Han running his mouth: the film pulls this stunt one time too many. If you’ve seen any of the original trilogy then you already know Han is in the habit of making boasts or promises he can’t possibly keep. The film practically beats the audience over the head with this concept and it really wasn’t necessary.

-Rio and Val: Does anyone else think we didn’t get to know these characters nearly well enough before they met their respective ends? I mean Rio’s death was hard to watch but at the same time we’d just barely gotten to know him.

Now for what I liked:

Lando Calrissian: Oh my goodness, they weren’t kidding when they said Donald Glover stole the show with his performance. From his first scene to his last, any time Lando is onscreen you can’t help but notice him. If Disney wants to do a stand-alone film about Lando then I am now perfectly okay with it (so long as Glover keeps the role). It also thrilled me to see Han and Lando playing sabaac, as that is a scene that’s played out several times in the old EU books.

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THAT scene with Lando and L3: This is one of the best scenes in the entire film and you will not be able to change my mind. L3 may have just been a droid that drove Lando crazy most of the time, but he really did care about her. Also, what happened afterward was a perfect explanation for why the Falcon’s computer is so….colorful with its language choices.

Han speaks “Wookie”: I actually liked the scene where Han speaks Wookie to Chewbacca in order to convince him that he’s a friend. I’d honestly never thought about whether he could speak it or not, but it makes sense that Han would have at least a small grasp of the language. That being said…he looked so funny speaking the language!

Dryden Vos: Vos is one of my favorite types of villain: he’s kind, courteous, the perfect gentleman right up until he stabs you in the back. At the same time he also reeks of charisma that can easily trick you into forgetting how dangerous he is. I really enjoyed Paul Bettany’s performance, I wish we’d gotten more of it (though who knows, he could always reappear in another anthology film set before this one).

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THAT cameo at the end (warning, if you don’t want to know who it is stop reading NOW!!):

Going in to the film, I was positive I’d narrowed the cameo down to two people: Boba Fett and/or Jabba the Hutt. It made sense to me that young Han would run into one of these two characters. And while the Hutt crime lord is heavily alluded to at the end of the film (there’s no other reason for going to Tatooine), he doesn’t actually appear. After Qi’ra kills Vos and assumes command of Crimson Dawn, she uses a ring to speak with Dryden’s boss who appears in a hologram. The moment this character started speaking, I perked up in my seat because I KNEW that voice and it only belonged to one character. And sure enough, the hood was eventually lifted back to reveal Maul, formerly Darth Maul (embodied by Ray Park, voiced by Sam Witwer), he who got bisected at the end of The Phantom Menace all the way back in 1999.

Now, if you’ve only seen the films, I know this cameo was very confusing for you. Here’s how Darth Maul is alive and well: George Lucas almost immediately regretted killing Maul and kept looking for a way to bring him back. During the Clone Wars animated series (2008-2013) he finally got his chance. Maul reappears in the 4th season where it is revealed that he didn’t die on Naboo but instead clung to life through the Dark Side of the Force and was eventually rescued by his brother (yes Maul had a brother) where he was given mechanical legs. There’s a lot more but that’s the gist of it. Bringing Maul back to the films is HUGE: now the door is wide open for a stand alone film about the former Sith apprentice and I couldn’t be more excited.

While there are several hooks left for a direct sequel, I don’t see it happening anytime soon. Thus far Solo isn’t turning a huge profit so Disney may not see it as worth their while to follow up on this story. I do hope though that Maul’s cameo means that a standalone Maul film is in the works. Only time will tell.

What did you think about Solo: A Star Wars Story? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and have a great day!

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