Soundtrack Review: Star Wars - The Rise of Skywalker
At its best, the music for Star Wars contains profound musical statements: Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) beholding the smoky remains of his family in "Burning Homestead." Also, there's the stirring "Duel of the Fates," which marked a major confrontation between the Jedi and the Dark Side. Because the tracks have been laid and the settlements populated, modern filmmakers are less inclined to extend this musical vocabulary, at least beyond the incidental.
Crucially, the franchise has not smashed into a creative dead end. In 2020, composer Gordy Haab did a wonderful job on the video game Star Wars: Squadrons. His imaginative battle rhythms came across as unpredictable. As for John Williams, while he doesn't coast on nostalgia for The Rise of Skywalker to the same extent as The Last Jedi, he peaked long ago. Arguably, Revenge of the Sith culminated in a broad swathe of leitmotifs and moments unmatched by the Disney trilogy.
Indeed, the most shameless nostalgia demonstrated by The Rise of Skywalker can be heard in "Destiny of a Jedi." Here Rey (Daisy Ridley) ends up granted mythic status via Yoda's Theme. Incidentally, the diminutive Jedi master has long since become one with the force. So why the producers insisted upon this musical idea simply because Rey levitates an X-wing remains mysterious.
I give Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker by John Williams three out of five stars.
A poem to close:
Finish your daily chores
Before hearing Star Wars.
John Williams' intergalactic final dance
Some nostalgia perchance.
Popular themes are there
As newer branches prepare.
Kylo Ren's Theme was simple and drab.
No greater than a concrete slab.
Rey's motif slightly better
Following Tinkerbell to the letter.
The action continuously stirs
Just as the Emperor purrs.
The will to embolden
Early fanfare simply golden.
Much to absorb
From celestial orb.
Of majestic plunder
A still and noble wonder.
This tune I'll be humming
It was a long time coming.
"Destiny of a Jedi" demoted
Because Yoda's Theme was quoted.
A shameless copy
Unearned and sloppy.
"Anthem of Evil," that seductive choir
The circumstance rarely dire.
Hark! The trumpets sound
Furies light years abound.
Discontent for "The Old Death Star"
A melody carried far.
"We Go Together" was functional and plain.
Tuned to keep us sane.
Confronted by wraith
"Join Me" marginally safe.
Who's minding the lobby
When inspiration proves a hobby?
Even "The Final Saber Duel"
Almost ran out of fuel.
In between the highs and lows,
A skeleton grows.
An unstoppable franchise plummets
Once knowing worthy summits.
"Battle of the Resistance" felt busy
All kinds of berserker crazy.
Williams bows with grace
His contribution set the pace.
The Rise of Skywalker mostly consistent
Those nostalgic blossoms insistent.
How does the final product sit?
Confident, alone and fit.
There's enough sweep
To make an apprentice Jedi weep.