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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Album Cover Art
Composed and Produced by:

Co-Orchestrated and Conducted by:
Tim Simonec

Co-Orchestrated by:
William Ross
Brad Dechter
Jeff Kryka
Chris Tilton

Original Themes by:
Labels Icon
Walt Disney Records
(Commercial Album)
(December 16th, 2016)

Walt Disney Studios
(Promotional Album)
(December 16th, 2016)
Availability Icon
The commercial album is a regular U.S. release. The "for your consideration" awards promo was made available digitally at the same time as the commercial album and film, and it could be heard or downloaded through Disney's official awards site.
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   Availability | Viewer Ratings | Comments | Track Listings | Notes
Buy it... if you expect a competent and passionately loyal emulation of John Williams' instrumental and melodic techniques by Michael Giacchino, who achieves perhaps the best possible outcome for this impossible assignment.

Avoid it... if you expect Giacchino's derivative melodies to compete favorably with the maestro's or if you demand a truly representative presentation of the film's music on a sadly underwhelming commercial album that is missing important cues.
Review Icon
WRITTEN 1/8/17
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story: (Michael Giacchino) For those who grew up on the original trilogy of Star Wars films and "survived" the prequels, the notion of witnessing a new feature film in this franchise every year because of Walt Disney Studio's purchasing of Lucasfilm is strangely unsettling. The Hollywood cash grab phenomenon is disturbing enough without seeing it sully such a storied franchise as this, though under the guidance of producer Kathleen Kennedy, a diminishment in quality hasn't materialized as of 2016's Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. The first entry in a series of spin-offs based on the Star Wars universe (actor Ewan McGregor is lobbying strongly for one, thankfully), Rogue One expands upon the backstory described in Star Wars: A New Hope about the stealing of the original Death Star's plans. The film's admirable exploration of George Lucas' canon is its highlight, propelling the movie to positive reviews and massive box office returns. On the other hand, it squeezes too many characters and locations into one story, yielding potential confusion (this is the first Star Wars film that required title cards for each planet, minus Darth Vader's Mustafar, returning from Revenge of the Sith, and a brief flashback to the galactic capital on Coruscant) or dissatisfaction with the lack of depth in character backstories. There are also issues of massive logical fallacies in the story (think for a moment about the catastrophic data loss the Empire willingly committed on Scarif), something The Force Awakens certainly didn't mind perpetuating. Fans won't care, though, as the space battle at the climax of the film, highlighted by a Hammerhead corvette encounter with a Star Destroyer, and the stunning digital resurrection of Peter Cushing as Governor Tarkin aboard the Death Star are well worth the admission price. As Rogue One debuted, composer John Williams was recording his score for the eighth episode of the franchise's proper chronology, and while he was never attached directly to any of the spin-off films, his legacy clearly looms large.

Director Gareth Edwards had originally selected his Gozilla collaborator, Alexandre Desplat, to compose the music for Rogue One, though the highly publicized reshooting of the film (the amount of mass character casualty at the end was a running debate within the production team) forced Desplat to abandon the project for scheduling reasons. Given rumors that Desplat wasn't most keen on adapting Williams' themes into picture, there was some relief but certainly no surprise when Michael Giacchino stepped in at the last minute to replace him. Giacchino is unquestionably the most logical choice to continue any franchise helmed previously by John Williams. Soundtrack collectors have known this since Giacchino's accomplished "Medal of Honor" video game scores beginning in 1999 confirmed suspicions that he was a master emulator of Williams's style (and the Indiana Jones voice in particular). When Giacchino stepped into the Jurassic Park franchise in 2015 with Jurassic World, his adaptations of the Williams mode and themes, while somewhat inarticulate due to meddling by the filmmakers, were about as good as anyone could have expected. With the Star Wars franchise, expectations are infinitely higher, and Giacchino only had about a month to score the picture, forcing him through many sleepless nights in an effort to deliver for a concept he had loved so much as a boy. With the help of Williams orchestrator William Ross and the study of the maestro's longtime orchestrator, Herbert Spencer, Giacchino sought to create the right instrumental techniques and pairings to ensure as close a resemblance to Williams' style as possible. (One has difficulty imagining Desplat taking this route, interestingly.) A clear knowledge of Williams' original three scores for the franchise is also on display, though slightly disappointing is the lack of more tangible connections to Revenge of the Sith given this film's placement in the chronology, especially in the only rather vague similarity to Williams' handling on deep brass of the planet of Mustafar. Largely, though, Giacchino succeeds quite well at times in the task of perpetuating Williams' tone in Rogue One.

There are some differences to note between the two composers that are inevitably conveyed in the music for Rogue One. Giacchino's action music has never been as accessible as that of Williams, in part because of the younger composer's reliance on different types of anticipatory chords, his less tonal, broken-chord choices simply not as melodically enticing as Williams' seemingly more nuanced balance between conflicting notes and heartening tonalities. There are times when listeners will equate Giacchino's music, especially that for the Imperial forces in this story, with Nazi Germany from the "Medal of Honor" games rather than Williams' prior Star Wars efforts more directly. The moments when Giacchino really flourishes in Rogue One are those when he nails particular instrumental and tonal applications to closely resemble some particular sequence in either A New Hope or The Empire Strikes Back. Even here, however, as in the deceleration of the Imperial March at the end of "Krennic's Aspirations", the execution is slightly off. The novice ear may not particularly care about any of these finer points of orchestration and conducting, leaving the themes as the more important takeaway from the score. Here, there's a balance of good and unnecessary. Giacchino has, despite conjuring some outstanding melodies ranging from the solo piano tear-jerking in Up to the sweeping expanse of fantasy in Star Trek Beyond, never been associated with mainstream melodic embrace. In other words, you won't hear his themes performed in sports stadiums like you do with Williams. To expect Giacchino to compete on that playing field is indeed unfair, but it has to be raised as a topic in this score, because the thematic applications in Rogue One are a curious lot. The fresh identities are seemingly as numerous as the new character introductions, and that muddies the score to an extent. You have six or seven returning (or heavily suggested) motifs from the Williams scores with a full slate of new identities that are themselves typically informed by one of Williams' existing themes. On screen, this plethora of identities becomes something of a wash, leaving listeners inevitably grasping at the direct quotes of the Williams classics.

Nowhere is Rogue One as unnecessarily bloated as in the musical identities for the villains. Kudos to Giacchino for resurrecting both Imperial themes from A New Hope, the original Death Star's brief fanfare heard in "When Has Become Now" and "Confrontation on Eadu" and the more broad Imperial motif heard twice in "Krennic's Aspirations." Of course, the Imperial March for Vader is heard in "Krennic's Aspirations," where you also receive a strong allusion to the Emperor's theme, and in nearly humorous, bombastic form in "Hope." The over-the-top choral rendition of the idea for Vader's massacre scene is perhaps justified by Revenge of the Sith, but it's simply too overstated to be taken seriously. On top of these returning favorites, Giacchino supplies two additional new themes when only one, if even that, was necessary. Rather than associate the Imperial March with the villains in a general way in Rogue One, Giacchino supplies them the appropriately narcissistic, Nazi-inspired march as summarized in "The Imperial Suite" and best heard in the film in "When Has Become Now" and the introduction of the lovely Imperial data center on Scarif. In the middle of the concert arrangement of "The Imperial Suite" is the formal representation of the theme for the villain Krennic, and you receive extended treatment of his theme (again, clearly using minor thirds like the Imperial March) in his most potent scene, the opening landing in "He's Here For Us." Arguably, this theme is more alluring than the primary Imperial identity from Giacchino, which is a shame given that it disintegrates over time as the character is frustratingly marginalized; in "Get That Beach Under Control," his theme is a subdued presence compared to the main Imperial idea. A better approach to the picture might have been to allow one of Williams' existing Imperial themes to represent Tarkin, the Death Star, and the various Imperial installations while the one dedicated theme for Krennic first augments and then clashes with that prevailing identity. At times, as in "Are We Blind?," Giacchino achieves his best material for the fighting Imperial forces when he isn't confined to this mess of Imperial identities. The sequence reprising the Hoth battle from The Empire Strikes Back in "AT-ACT Assault" is outstanding, all the way down to the familiar handling of percussive strikes.

Ratings Icon
Average: 3.48 Stars
***** 188 5 Stars
**** 177 4 Stars
*** 149 3 Stars
** 113 2 Stars
* 54 1 Stars
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Motifs fitting in
ShinjiGumballKodai - May 8, 2017, at 10:46 a.m.
1 comment  (808 views)
An Alternate Review from SOUNDTRACKBEAT.COM
K.S. - February 28, 2017, at 7:17 a.m.
1 comment  (962 views)
First Cue in Rogue One
David Abad - January 9, 2017, at 1:01 a.m.
1 comment  (1352 views)
Rating too high, like always!
Fleychad Keypad - January 8, 2017, at 3:22 p.m.
1 comment  (1471 views)
Alternative review at Movie Wave   Expand >>
Southall - January 8, 2017, at 3:03 p.m.
3 comments  (2298 views)
Newest: January 9, 2017, at 6:11 a.m. by

Track Listings Icon
Regular Commercial Album Tracks   ▼Total Time: 69:49
• 1. He's Here For Us (3:20)
• 2. A Long Ride Ahead (3:56)
• 3. Wobani Imperial Labor Camp (0:54)
• 4. Trust Goes Both Ways (2:45)
• 5. When Has Become Now (1:59)
• 6. Jedha Arrival (2:48)
• 7. Jedha City Ambush (2:19)
• 8. Star-Dust (3:47)
• 9. Confrontation on Eadu (8:05)
• 10. Krennic's Aspirations (4:16)
• 11. Rebellions Are Built on Hope (2:56)
• 12. Rogue One (2:04)
• 13. Cargo Shuttle SW-0608 (3:59)
• 14. Scrambling the Rebel Fleet (1:33)
• 15. AT-ACT Assault (2:55)
• 16. The Master Switch (4:02)
• 17. Your Father Would Be Proud (4:51)
• 18. Hope (1:37)
• 19. Jyn Erso and Hope Suite (5:51)
• 20. The Imperial Suite (2:29)
• 21. Guardians of the Whills Suite (2:52)
Disney Awards Promo Tracks   ▼Total Time: 75:43

Notes Icon
The insert of the commercial product includes a list of performers, a note from the composer about the score, and his usual pun-laden alternate track titles. The Disney promotional album is a digital product with no official packaging.
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The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten
or redistributed without the prior written authority of Christian Clemmensen at Filmtracks Publications. All artwork and sound clips from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story are Copyright © 2016, Walt Disney Records (Commercial Album), Walt Disney Studios (Promotional Album) and cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 1/8/17 (and not updated significantly since).
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