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Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith – Review – 1 week later

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Alienware High-Performance Systems

It’s been a week since I wrote my review of John Williams’ score for Revenge of the Sith. In that review, I expressed great disappointment in the score, and I accused it of being “boring” and largely without thematic development or direction.

Since then, I’ve had several constructive conversations with readers via e-mail as well as with my wife, and those conversations caused me to decide to take a few days completely off from the score, and then to revisit it. Here’s what I found.

When I sat back down, I decided to revisit the Episode 1 and 2 scores first, to get a taste of where Williams was taking the music. I found in Episode 1 that he was trying to sound like the John Williams of the late 70s and early 80s, and essentially trying to write an original trilogy score. While he succeeded in some part, I feel that the score was a bit flat overall. In Episode 2 he seemed to abandon that approach, and wrote a score in his current scoring voice. Thus, the score felt natural, had an energy to it that Episode 1 rarely had, and made for an interesting listen on CD. The only thing missing? Not a whole lot of themes carried over from the original trilogy or Episode 1, except for the force theme.

And so I arrived back at Episode 3. And you know what? This score is actually pretty good. In fact, I would say that, on CD, it’s equally as good as Episode 2. It’s just totally different. You can tell that Williams was writing for a movie that actually had something to grasp onto, unlike Episode 2. This score has a TON of drama to it. I think that’s what I missed during my initial listening (and what I wasn’t listening for, thus my negative taste for it initially).

Now, don’t get me wrong. This score sounds NOTHING like the original trilogy scores (except for a section of track 9). And, if you haven’t liked either of the prequel scores, there’s a very good chance that you won’t like this score either. BUT, that being said, I am changing my rating of this from 2 1/2 stars to 4 stars.

Rating: **** out of ***** (4 out of 5).

NOTE: This is a followup to my original review, which can be found here.

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About Michael Schuermann

  • brett

    glad to see you woke up

  • http://www.mondoirlando.com Aaron, Duke De Mondo

    i didn’t read this, simply because star wars soundtracks are notorious for spoilers masquerading as track titles. however, i caught that it’s a re-review. some folks find this a cop-out or something, but i think it’s a totally acceptable thing.

    Plenty times you maybe miss something for a month or more, and then next thing you know it hits you in a totally different way.

    it should be compulsory, in fact.

  • David

    Umm… wtf. I actually agreed with your FIRST review. And now, I reject you entirely. Yes, the score is GOOD. But you were correct when saying that it doesn’t go anywhere. Episode 1 is good, simply because he wrote the most original music for it. Episode 2… um.. a lot of it was carried from Episode 1 (duel of the fates, trade federation march, and if you watch the film, the entire clone war is rehash music from ep1).

    Sounds like you don’t really know your Star Wars scores like I thought you did.

  • http://victorplenty.blogspot.com Victor Plenty

    Thorough knowledge of the entire history of music in the Western world is required before one can be considered competent to review a Star Wars film score. Anything less is absolutely, totally, completely and irrevocably unacceptable.

    If one cannot make rapid and fluid comparisons between Williams on the one hand; and Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Mozart, Rimsky-Korsakoff, Stravinsky, Shostakovich, Glass, Goldsmith, Stalling, and Horner on the other hand; one simply has no business writing a review of Star Wars music.

    Ideally, of course, one would also make detailed references to other musical traditions throughout the world, including but not limited to those of India, China, Japan, Indonesia, the Arabian Peninsula, the Andes, and Sub-Saharan Africa. Without this broader expertise, one is merely competent, rather than truly qualified to review Star Wars music.

    Or, perhaps, this is all a load of pretentious crap. Maybe there are many listeners who won’t bother to obsess over such details. Maybe all they really need in a review of Star Wars music is the reviewer’s honest impression, just like with any other music review.

  • Dan

    Michael,

    I am glad that you had the chance to study it again. I have done the same thing before, you know. You listen to a score and think “Well, it’s good, but not really THAT good”, and as you begin to study it more, you change your mind completely.

    I only hope that others will be sensible to see that it is okay for someone to change their opinion. Things like this happen to the best of us…

  • Jeff

    It’s nice to see a non arrogant, open minded, individual, willing to consider other’s opinions. Then to reconsider and re-evaluate at the risk of being wrong or off base. I have a new respect for you and your reviews.

  • sabo

    I like the score, but I was a bit disappointed that Williams didn’t rearrange the end credit themes a bit more like he did with the force theme just after the main title in track 1 – (wow, what a trip, man, and just after the opening!!!) Williams should have made a new theme out of it and should have put that into the end credits! I had to get used to battle of heroes and A vs. o, it’s a new stile compared to the williams of the 70s and 80s. But it works out …

  • u2jedi

    I can’t really say John Williams is working differently from before. Parts of Episode 3 sound like Jurassic Park and Indiana Jones & the Temple of Doom.
    Which is not a negative. Far from it. I love those scores.

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