In some ways this is a tricky one, as I haven’t seen the film yet, so I’m reviewing the soundtrack album not knowing what happens in the film or how well the music fits in it. As a totally seperate listening experience, it sounds pretty fine and seems to be one of the better scores of the Disney Star Wars era.
This is no doubt helped by original Star Wars composer John Williams being involved, even though the score itself is written by John Powell. John Williams wrote a main theme for the Han Solo character and discussed with Powell the score that he would compose around it. Also, Powell made use of several Star Wars themes for the Original Trilogy composed by Williams which sounds like the wrong approach but actually works rather well. How it works in the film itself of course I cannot say, but as a musical experience on its own its surprising and at moments even exhilarating. There is one track in particular – Reminiscence Theory – which had me grinning like a Cheshire cat and caused me to buy the album. I have no idea at all what is going on during the movie but I would imagine it has Original Trilogy fans whooping for joy- its pure Star Wars. There’s sections from the A New Hope score -like TIE Fighter Attack– with moments from The Empire Strikes Back –The Asteroid Field– that has me wondering if I should have seen this film at the cinema after all. I know, it sounds ridiculous buying a score album for just one six-minute track but its like some kind of Star Wars greatest hits medley and is so joyous and brimming with energy, its great.
Fortunately the rest of this fairly generous 77-minute album is of a high standard. It is decidedly old-school symphonic writing with a serious nod towards Williams original trilogy scores in style and approach- which helps with those old themes being weaved through it. It must have been a tricky thing to pull off, but while it has a sound all its own it also shares so many traits of the old scores that it sounds like a Star Wars score in ways that perhaps the last few Disney-era scores haven’t (even those two composed by Williams). Some may think this is not a good thing and in fact a step backwards, and they might be right, but when a film score is as much fun as this its hard to complain, surely.