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Music Review: John Williams – ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack’

At 85 years old, John Williams continues his prolific musical career with the quality original motion picture soundtrack to Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the second film in the new Star Wars film trilogy and eighth overall in this popular film series. This musical score yields many galactic goosebumps with emotional movements and thrilling moments.

The Last Jedi was directed and written by Rian Johnson (Looper, Brothers Bloom), with originator George Lucas getting character-writing credit, and immense fun throughout the 152-minute plot – the longest in the Star Wars series. The First Order has come to the forefront (a.k.a. Galactic Empire) and rules the galaxy while the Resistance (a.k.a. Rebellion) looks to reinstate the Republic to bring peace and cooperation. The plot picks up right where Episode VII (The Force Awakens) left off, with Rey handing Luke his light saber on the island of Ahch-To, which houses the first Jedi temple and has the latest memorable creatures called Porgs.

Character development in the newer characters mainly involves revealing backgrounds and new abilities to help drive the plot as the raging, yet intelligent Kylo Ren, played by Adam Driver (Patterson, Logan Lucky) presses his offensive against Rey, played by Daisy Ridley (Murder on the Orient Express) and the rebels. Both are reeling from family issues and Force growing pains as Finn, played by John Boyega (Detroit), a former stormtrooper of the First Order who defected to the Resistance, recovers from his battle in the last installment. (Note: Yours truly did see this movie before reviewing this score. Also, some of the track titles might spoil the film. If you haven’t seen it yet – go see it soon.)

The 78-minute Star Wars: The Last Jedi original motion picture soundtrack has 20 tracks where Williams mainly enhances existing themes that fold into each other while offering a few new melodies into the mix as well.

This impressive score has a great beginning with “Main Title and Escape.” Then “Ahch-To Island” explores themes that enhance Rey and Luke’s relationship and which repeat throughout the film.

“Revisiting Snoke” has several dark themes, including previous Darth Vader movements. Next, the haunting, yet elegant “The Supremacy” enhances the action well and then transitions to Princess Leia’s theme on piano during some important moments. “Fun with Finn and Rose” has a great melody and new movements. It’s a playful work and has a new theme for a new character carried by woodwinds.

“Old Friends” works well, but is overall one of the weaker songs even though it has great moments that enhance Luke’s action. The soundtrack recovers with “The Rebellion Is Reborn,” which mixes movements heard when Rose is on screen with Luke & Rey’s themes and ends strong. “Lesson One” also has a strong ending but dips in overall quality.

The suspenseful “Who Are You?” features some enchanting woodwinds plus another dramatic ending, while the enjoyable “The Fathiers” brings in excitement. “The Cave” presents darker themes that echo The Empire Strikes Back and includes some nice strings.

“The Sacred Jedi Texts” has a great surprise character theme, and it’s followed by “A New Alliance,” which begins with suspense and then really ramps up the action that brings agitated emotions to the listener.

The title of the next song, “Chrome Dome,” definitely refers to an antagonist character. This action-packed song creates a military feel, which is a great segue into the heroic “The Battle of Crait,” one of the strongest and defining tracks on this soundtrack. It also contains terrific choral arrangements.

“The Spark” includes themes of the established characters and has a solid ending. The strings support this composition well with emotional swells, and then “The Last Jedi” powers through with string and non-lyric choral segments before a powerful conclusion.

The softer “Peace and Purpose” leads into the eight-minute “Finale” that again enhances the emotions involving the more established characters.

The Star Wars: The Last Jedi original motion picture soundtrack from Walt Disney Records comes recommended (*** out of four stars). John Williams is currently in pre-production work on the musical score for Star Wars: Episode IX, the ninth episode in this film series.

Tracklisting:
1. “Main Title and Escape”
2. “Ahch-To Island”
3. “Revisiting Snoke”
4. “The Supremacy”
5. “Fun with Finn and Rose”
6. “Old Friends”
7. “The Rebellion Is Reborn”
8. “Lesson One”
10. “Who Are You”
11. “The Fathiers”
12. “The Cave”
13. “The Sacred Jedi Texts”
14. “A New Alliance”
15. “Chrome Dome”
16. “The Battle of Crait”
17. “The Spark”
18. “The Last Jedi”
19. “Peace and Purpose”
20. “Finale”

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