Saturday, February 15, 2020

Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017), by John Williams

There is one thing you can count on regarding a Star Wars score by John Williams – while the soundtracks may vary in quality like the films themselves, they are still heads and shoulders above the majority of original motion picture music.

Such is the case with the music for Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi. Once again, the octogenarian composer and conductor turns in an exhilarating and majestic score, replete with the blaring fanfare, main theme, sweeping new motifs, and the all-encompassing finale.

The only exception this time around is a new episodic theme that is not as compelling or as intriguing as the ones for the original trilogy and Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens. This could be because Williams, like any artist, is only as good as the material or muse that inspires him. As enjoyable and entertaining a Star Wars entry as The Last Jedi is, it does take some weird and wacky turns and has a clunky midsection, especially involving the casino gambling world of Canto Bight.

This has happened before in the Star Wars franchise, particularly in the case of the much-maligned prequel trilogy. Not all of it was terrible, but a lot of it was pedestrian and uninspired, and even Williams’ brilliance could not elevate the material. In other words, Williams was as unimpressed as the rest of us, and it shows in those musical scores.

The good news here is that regardless, the music of The Last Jedi is far superior to that of the prequel trilogy and is one of John Williams’ better works. Like the film itself, it is a worthwhile entry in the series.

--Raj Manoharan

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