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Saturday, 31 December 2016

AFICIONADO REVIEW: 'ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY' - THE SOUNDTRACK

New and old themes merge successfully within the accomplished ROGUE ONE soundtrack.

There's an old saying in Hollywood that remains more relevant and prescient than ever to the pressures of film and TV production: "Do you want it good, or do you want it tomorrow?" That Michael Giacchino, replacing Alexandre Desplat as the original composer of the eagerly awaited ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY, after Desplat and Lucasfilm's so-called "scheduling problems", could take over at a difficult time to deliver such a fine and accomplished score for a STAR WARS film, within a tight time frame of less than a few months, is no mean feat and one that must be heartily applauded.

Reckless but vital to the Rebels: scavenger Jyn Erso, newly arrived at Yavin IV.

Recognising more than most modern film composers the true and emotionally rewarding values of thematic structure, its Giacchino's work for ROGUE ONE's diverse and emotionally damaged main characters in which he triumphs, showing his capable talents in continuing to celebrate and build on the incredible work still evolving in the STAR WARS trilogies series by uber composer John Williams. Main heroine Jyn Erso's theme must be Giacchino's standout here- an emotional piece revealing a brave yet vulnerable, haunting and tragic layering to the young Rebel icon, and a composition that's a welcome addition to the the previous female heroine themes created for the saga for Leia and Rey. Another standout is the Guardians of the Whills Suite, beautifully concocted for those brave warriors of mystery and firepower in blind monk Chirrut Imwe and his revenge fuelled protector Baze Malbus: an impressive and genuinely lovely standout piece celebrating their friendship and brotherhood linked to the mystery and power of the Force. In counterbalance, the might of the Imperial war machine is told through a a dizzyingly perverted theme of power and twisted majesty, The Imperial Suite, clearly designed by Giacchino as a lead-in to the eventual Williams Imperial March in musical force by the time of THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, combined with some some clear referencing to the kind of Wagnerian motifs also used through the Classic Trilogy. Only the film's Rebel Alliance theme feels a little weak in comparison to what had been previously established by Williams barnstorming saga main title, though it does work in conveying the kind of spirited music we've come to enjoy opening the likes of many classic against-the-odds World War II action films over the years.

Vader knows how to keep Krennic in line.

Beyond the admirable themes, there are some equally good incidental music to attract the ears over this twenty one track release from DISNEY MUSIC. With He's Here for Us: a sudden musical jolt effectively captures our attention, followed by a subtle build up to the arrival of the evil Orson Krennic and the Imperial powers at his command as his shuttle glides towards the peaceful and solitary world of Lah'mu, resulting in a desperate race by scientist Galen Erso and his family to escape capture - a strong opening prologue, with a hint of Jyn's theme echoing her often lonely destiny ahead, whilst the sequences set on the tense powder keg occupied world of Jedha make intriguing use of evocative and exotic instrumentation. As the older Jyn tries to rescue her father from the enemy, Confrontation on Eadu proves a tense and exciting mix of Giacchino themes and very subtle referencing to EPISODE IV...

Stormtroopers go flying in battle on Jedha.

Tributes to the original Williams music are indeed welcome and vital to the soundtrack, with clever partial usage of the Force theme where required, presumably following in the tradition of CASINO ROYALE, and composer David Arnold's building use of the recognisable James Bond theme in its satisfying entirety by that film's conclusion. There's also some notable links to EMPIRE's percussion frenzy Battle of Hoth with AT-ACT Assault, and a brief but lovely link to a certain much-missed female senator from Alderaan in Rogue One. And as Rebellion strengthens, an old enemy is revealed, as all-time great villain Darth Vader makes his presence felt subtly from his home on Mustafar, in Krennic's Aspirations.


Jyn brings new hope to Cassian and the Rebel Alliance.

The score's final three incidental tracks are certainly the best of the film. The Master Switch is tense and exciting as Jyn and Cassian retrieve the Death Star plans from the perilous vault on Scarif, whilst also under attack in their climb up to the citadel transmitter. This is followed by sadness, as our two heroes, despite their success and finding emotional redemption, prepare for their ultimate demise from the newly arrived super weapon, in the moving 'last sunset' of Your Father Would Be Proud - genuinely affecting and teary stuff. The onslaught of the enemy continues above the ravaged beauty of Scarif with an operatic choir signalling the return of Vader, bringing with him his macabre and truly savage dance of dance against the Rebel forces as they ultimately, though barely, escape with the transferred Death Star plans to a recognisable blockade runner, and the data card schematic now coming into the possession of a certain bold and beautiful princess. The Hope of the final title track resolutely ends the film and our enjoyment of the overall score on a spirited high.

AFICIONADO RATING: Okay, so unavoidable hints of LOST and his STAR TREK movie work may find their way in at times, but the ROGUE ONE soundtrack is regardless a genuine and rewarding triumph for Giacchino, and certainly ranks amongst his finest pieces of work so far. John Williams remains the one and only composer for the STAR WARS saga but this is a welcome addition to any fan's collection and proof that the new standalone anthology films can work musically with the right talents at the helm. Indeed, I'd be more than happy for Giacchino to do all the standalone scores for the foreseeable future. 4 out of 5

Get the soundtrack here: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story: Amazon.co.uk: Music

Michael Giacchino Caps a Busy Year With ‘Rogue One’ Score | Variety

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