For years we've been hearing that Episode III is going to be the darkest chapter of the Star Wars saga, and if the soundtrack is anything to go by, that promise is about to be fulfilled in spectacular style.
John Williams' score is a far more sombre affair this time. Of course, there are still the rousing battle themes such as 'The Revenge of the Sith' and 'Grievous and the Droids', but the majority of the material here is shot through with a mixture of overwhelming evil and tragic despair. The main new theme, 'Battle of the Heroes', is a perfect example; menacing and exciting, but with more than a hint of sadness running through it. For those like me who love 'Duel of the Fates' from Episode I, there's plenty of the same spine-chilling choral work, and the emotive 'Across the Stars' also appears in some of the more melancholy moments. As this film forms the link to the original Star Wars trilogy, it's good to see some old favourites making a reappearance, most notably 'The Force Theme' and the 'Imperial March'. The End Credits piece also raises a nostalgic tear to the eye with excerpts from 'Leia's Theme' and 'The Throne Room' (although surely not all this will be heard on screen - the credits can't last for more than eleven minutes, can they...?)
Far from 'dropping the ball', John Williams has produced a work which easily exceeds the other two Prequel soundtracks, although it cannot match 'The Empire Strikes Back' - surely the finest soundtrack ever produced. As for plagurising elements from a lesser composer's work on a lesser film, the idea is risible. It's a marvellous album, and promises a thrilling, emotional journey come May 19th.
My only complaint is.. why only a selection from the film? Whay not the full, double-CD treatment? Hopefully an 'Ultimate Edition' will appear at a later date (although the full Episode II soundtrack still hasn't appeared). Nevertheless, this is essential listening for Star Wars buffs and anyone with an interest in terrific film scores.