Solo: A Star Wars Story
Han Solo Theme By: John Williams
Musical Score By: John Powell
Distributed By: Walt Disney Records
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
Solo: A Star Wars Story takes us back, long before A New Hope, to the origins of Han Solo, his introduction to Chewbacca, his workings with Lando Calrissian and how he became captain of the starship known as the Millennium Falcon. This is the second in an anthology of standalone Star Wars films that began with Rogue One. Also starring in Solo: A Star Wars Story are Woody Harrelson as Tobias Beckett, Emilia Clarke as Han’s former lover Qi’ra, Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian, Joonas Suotamo as Chewbacca and Paul Bettany as Dryden Vos.
The Solo: A Star Wars Story Soundtrack features two composers at its helm. Award-winning composer John Williams returns to Star Wars once again with The Adventures of Han, a new theme recorded by the Recording Arts Orchestra of Los Angeles. The rest of the score was created by John Powell in his first collaboration score with Lucasfilm. A musician best known for his film compositions, Powell’s first major film score was for Face/Off. Since then, he has composed a number of film scores, including Shrek, I Am Sam, The Bourne Identity, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, X-Men: The Last Stand, Happy Feet, How to Train Your Dragon and more.
John Williams’ theme for Han Solo opens the soundtrack. It’s an upbeat, adrenaline booster, featuring some familiar themes from the original trilogy. John Powell builds upon that, adding new themes like a jungle-drum ethnic theme for Chewbacca. But through it all, you will note quite a few pieces that sound like those of the original trilogy. Of that, Powell says, “There is a lot of thematic material from the original movies that I used that are not specific to Han. They’re specific to the Millennium Falcon, TIE fighters and the Empire. Those types of things are very useful as they’re all part of the language we know. There are lots of other characters and ideas within the film that I wrote tunes and melodies (themes) for, so it’s a mixture of new themes by me, a new theme by John Williams, and some of the old material.”
As with many of the Star Wars films, there is a track best played in a cantina somewhere – Chicken in the Pot has that Jabba Palace / Mos Eisley Cantina feel with the alien lyrics and the strangely alien/exotic music in the background. There are a few softer orchestral moments such as in Lando’s Closet, The Good Guy and Testing Allegiance, but for the most part, the score of Solo: A Star Wars Story is energetic and action filled with heavy percussion, blaring horns and a very fast pace. Older fans will recognize a few dogfight themes from A New Hope in this soundtrack and smile as I did.
In his debut as a Star Wars composer, I must say that John Powell did a decent job, though I wonder how well he would have done had he not sampled music from John Williams’ original trilogy scores. Without those samples, I’m not so sure I would have enjoyed the score as much. All in all, the Solo: A Star Wars Story Soundtrack was an enjoyable listen and I can’t imagine any Star Wars fan who wouldn’t want to add this album to their collection.