The soundtrack to the original Star Wars is one of the best of all time. The opening crawl theme, the moment with the twin suns, the Force theme…it’s so memorable. This was John Williams, confirming his status as a legendary composer after Jaws. He’s composed the music to eight Star Wars movies and this musical universe is very much his. So when it was announced he wouldn’t be scoring the “standalone” movies, my interest was piqued. What would this galaxy sound like, in the hands of someone else?
Rogue One came first, but because of the extensive reshoots the movie experienced its original composer, Alexandre Desplat (The Grand Budapest Hotel, Isle of Dogs), had to step down. He was replaced by Michael Giacchino (The Incredibles, Up) who only had a few weeks to compose the soundtrack. This showed and even though there were interesting tracks, Giacchino simply didn’t have the time he needed to produce a truly outstanding score. All this is a preface to say that I was very excited for John Powell’s SOLO score. This was the first true non-John Williams score and it was coming from the guy who did the incredible How To Train Your Dragon music. I was pumped. Alas, my expectations were not met.
The score begins with a theme by John Williams. You can hear the legend’s style in it, and Powell incorporates this theme well into his music. There are tracks that really stand out, like Reminiscence Therapy and, my favorite, Marauders Arrive, which features some of the best chorus music in a Star Wars movie since Duel of Fates.
But other than those few bright spots, I was underwhelmed by the score. Disney consistently knocks it out of the park with the music and score to its animated movies and yet both the Marvel movies and the new Star Wars have struggled to make an impact. I know Powell is capable of incredible magic, his work for How To Train Your Dragon 1 and 2 and for all Kung Fu Panda movies is some of my favorite. And yet here he delivered a bland score that never truly takes off.
If you ask me, Kathleen Kennedy needs to allow future composers to step away from John Williams. The fact he composed the theme for this movie clearly influenced Powell a lot. The music to the original Star Wars trilogy is the stuff of legend. But it’s time to create new legends, new sounds. SOLO had heavy western influences, and yet you can’t find that in the score, for example. That would add a new dimension to these movies.
Overall, I wouldn’t really recommend buying this score. But if you’re a collector or you simply disagree with me, here’s the link for you! And let us know what you think in the comments.
Pablo Ruiz is a Colombian filmmaker. Movies like Toy Story, The Lion King and Aladdin made him fall in love with the art form and now he hopes to dedicate his life to telling stories, hopefully for Pixar (if they go back to doing original films).
Some of his ambitions are making a movie as emotionally impacting as Toy Story 3, meeting JK Rowling, and petting a million dogs. Follow him on Twitter (@PabloRV7).