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With George Lucas' Star Wars Episode II: Attack Of The Clones
impressively showcasing rich drama beyond the customary eye-popping spectacle, long-time franchise collaborator John Williams' score follows suit with a rewarding and compelling mix of tragedy-tinged romance and epic action, enveloped in a pervading air of approaching doom. Dispensing with The Phantom Menace's
exuberant, youthful orchestrations, more at home in E.T.
, Attack of the Clones
pleasingly mirrors Williams' work on franchise zenith The Empire Strikes Back
Fans will delight in the increased appearance of the series' classic themes, underlining the wider saga and tantalisingly foreshadowing future events while, like a Bond score, retaining the series' beloved musical signature. Williams frames the film's tragic romance with a beautiful love theme, "Across the Stars". A sweeping epic with a melancholic edge, it's the strongest track, the "threatened romance" theme further showcased in "Anakin and Padme" and "The Meadow Picnic". Yet, the action cues find Williams on equally glorious form. "Jango's Escape" and "Bounty Hunter's Pursuit" are thoroughly exciting fare while "Zam the Assassin" is a breathless 11-minute epic, with Williams exploring new ground, with Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon-esque percussion and, surprisingly, electric guitar. The forbidding atmosphere reaches a deliriously thrilling crescendo with "Return to Tatooine", "The Tusken Camp" and "Love Pledge and the Arena", a heart-rending collision of romance, action and inescapable dread, interwoven with a plethora of the series themes. When "The Imperial March" makes a full-blown appearance in "Confrontation with Count Dooku"--as a victorious fanfare, no less--it recalls the best heart-stopping moments of Williams' original Star Wars orchestrations.
Coming so far in to such a distinguished career, this is an impressive, memorable work that once again showcases Williams' virtuoso affinity with cinema and, beyond that, a magnificent fifth segment in his eventual Magnum Opus. --Danny Graydon