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Soundtrack Review: Rogue One
by Richard Jack Smith

For many including yours truly, John Williams’ music for Star Wars feels inseparable from the characters and story. Adding to which, symphonic traditions carry their own nostalgia and appeal. Choosing to follow this path requires bravery of rare calibre. Enter Michael Giacchino.

Rising through the video game and animation scoring ranks, Giacchino might always be remembered for Up. The latter netted him an Academy Award, yet despite all the hype it’s far from being his finest work. For 2016’s Rogue One, he anticipated what listeners would demand from their Jedi fix. On this occasion, he surpassed even my own expectations.

Regarding musical depth, Rogue One comes across as superbly crafted. Aside from a minor playing error at 0:50 into “Trust Goes Both Ways,” it’s a flawless recording. In my view, the blueprints for this audacious undertaking are carried through seamlessly, and repeat experiences guarantee unseen rewards. For Spotify users, there’s the added novelty of having the music play from a lightsaber.

Incidentally, “He’s Here for Us” booms with a brilliant stinger; rather atypical considering Williams’ fanfare which ignited every Star Wars picture since 1977. It’s an idea that could have backfired for Giacchino. However, it quickly sets the plot in motion.

Meanwhile, “Krennic’s Aspirations” contains two sweet renditions of Darth Vader’s Theme AKA The Imperial March at 2:06 and 4:00. Outside the box, one can only imagine what Giacchino would bring to a scene featuring Yoda or Darth Sidious. The possibilities fill my heart with hope.  

Similar to Giacchino’s video game score Secret Weapons Over Normandy, Rogue One delivers the thrills of a classic. Along with Jupiter Ascending, it’s one of his greatest. For that reason, I give it five stars.

Poem for a sublime soundtrack:

In the renowned orchestral tradition

"Rogue One" summons the human condition.

Perfect it sounds

as the momentum pounds.


Themes, moments and action

leave a satisfying reaction.

A word for future scoring:

Make it good, not boring.

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