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STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS – Kevin Kiner

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Well, ladies and gentlemen, the Star Wars saga has finally lost the plot. After captivating the world between 1977 and 1983 with the original trilogy, and again in 1999 prior to the release of The Phantom Menace, the magic touch of George Lucas has finally vanished following the release of the animated feature The Clone Wars, a badly-rendered adventure telling the story of what happened to Anakin Skywalker in between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. It looks like something that would be more at home on the Cartoon Network – in fact, that is where the spin-off TV series ended up – but with a wisecracking Jedi padawan who sounds like Miley Cyrus and a farting baby Jabba the Hutt, the whole think reeks of a franchise stuttering to its final, floundering demise.

Indicative of the movie’s lack of scope is the fact that Kevin Kiner, and not John Williams, scored the movie – the first time that a big-screen Star Wars has been scored by anyone other than the maestro. The fact that Kiner absolutely butchers the Star Wars theme by adding a synth undercurrent and changing the tempo in the “Main Title” is close to sacrilegious; however, if you can get past this moment of film music heresy, parts of the rest of the score are actually quite entertaining.

The action music in cues such as “Battle of Christophsis”, “Sneaking Under the Shield” and “Destroying the Shield” is large-scale and impressive, and even intermittently includes a choir to add a level of majesty to the music. Kiner occasionally tries to emulate Williams’ Star Wars writing style in several cues, in the way he phrases his strings, to certain chord progressions, to the use of certain ostinatos, to the familiar muted brass and flute flurries, even going as far as subtly quoting and referencing various original trilogy passages.

But then, there are the cues which just don’t belong in the Star Wars universe, from the hideous electric guitars of “Obi-Wan to the Rescue” and “Battle of Teth”, to the increasingly clichéd ‘wailing female vocalist’ in “Landing on Teth” and “B’omarr Monastery”, to the horribly anachronistic “Ziro’s Nightclub Band” and “Seedy City Swing”, to the electronically enhanced action material in “Scaling the Cliff”, Escape from the Monastery” and “Courtyard Fight”, which sound like refugees from a Hans Zimmer score.

Taken on its own terms, parts of The Clone Wars are quite impressive, especially if you are able to forget that this music accompanies a Star Wars film. The purists, however, are likely to spend 95% of the album’s running time with their mouths open in sheer horror.

Rating: ***

Track Listing:

  • Star Wars Main Title/A Galaxy Divided (1:13)
  • Admiral Yularen (0:56)
  • Battle of Christophsis (3:19)
  • Meet Ahsoka (2:44)
  • Obi-Wan to the Rescue (1:24)
  • Sneaking Under the Shield (4:24)
  • Jabba’s Palace (0:45)
  • Anakin vs. Dooku (2:18)
  • Landing on Teth (1:43)
  • Destroying the Shield (3:08)
  • B’omarr Monastery (3:10)
  • General Loathsom/Battle Strategy (3:07)
  • The Shield (1:36)
  • Battle of Teth (2:45)
  • Jedi Don’t Run! (1:22)
  • Obi-Wan’s Negotiation (2:07)
  • The Jedi Council (2:04)
  • General Loathsom/Ahsoka (3:39)
  • Jabba’s Chamber Dance (0:42)
  • Ziro Surrounded (2:20)
  • Scaling the Cliff (0:45)
  • Ziro’s Nightclub Band (0:53)
  • Seedy City Swing (0:34)
  • Escape from the Monastery (3:12)
  • Infiltrating Ziro’s Lair (2:24)
  • Courtyard Fight (2:41)
  • Dunes of Tatooine (2:00)
  • Rough Landing (3:03)
  • Padmé Imprisoned (0:50)
  • Dooku Speaks With Jabba (1:28)
  • Fight to the End (3:59)
  • End Credits (0:51)

Running Time: 67 minutes 39 seconds

Sony Classical 88697-35616-2 (2008)

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