Joe Brausam

Star Wars "Rebels" - Kevin Kiner Returns!

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Disney XD aired a first look at the series last night, and I thought Kiner's score was pretty good--not as "goofy" as the theme in the introduction video. I appreciated the Williams references (and there are quite a few), and while I understand that Kiner is encouraged for this series to use Williams's themes (Lucas actually discouraged him from using them during The Clone Wars), I hope that they ultimately don't rely on them so much. They should be used for special occasions (like in The Clone Wars), not as a crutch.

Anyway, I like the score in both of these:

Hopefully this will get a soundtrack release someday.

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The music from Obi-Wan's reveal in ANH is used in the first clip and it feels out of place. I think Lucas knew what he was doing in TCW, if you overuse those iconic cues you lessen their impact when you hear them. It meant something and it felt right every time you heard JW in TCW. I've only seen 7 minutes of Rebels and already I think it's being misused.

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That was my feeling as well. Still, I remain hopeful for the rest of the season as they move away from the purposefully ANH-ish beginning and into new territory. I have faith!

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People claimed Clone Wars didn't use enough John Williams* but this is the opposite. It just seems like random JW cues all over the place with little thought put into it.

*Personally, I thought Clone Wars did a great job of using JW's original themes. It was done sparingly and had maximum impact as a result. Leia's theme over a Wookiee reunion just feels and sounds weird.

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From one extreme to another with Kiner. It's as though a child, denied candy for years, suddenly turned loose at Willy Wonkas. It's a stitch work of Williams themes to fill the running time. Horrible. Show some restraint, Kevin!

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This didn't create nostalgia, all it did was distract me because I constantly heard note for note Williams material.

There's a difference between writing in the OT style, and outright stitching together cues.

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There were definitely lots of callbacks in the score - not just to Williams' themes, but to other bits of music as well. It was distracting to me when I watched the 10 minute preview (basically just the opening chase) and less so when I watched the full episode - probably because I knew it would be coming. I'd like to think that this was intentional for the pilot, but that it won't necessarily be as heavy-handed as the show goes on. Older Star Wars fans (not specifically film music fans) who are tuning in just to try it out, will hear the music, get that "Star Wars" feel, and maybe it will make them feel good about the show - good enough to tune in again. Once they're hooked, hopefully Kiner will lay off a little. I noticed a few of Kiner's own themes in there though, and I found the score overall to be quite good.

This is also my fear about Episode VII - that they will be so reliant on callbacks and "old" Star Wars - the returning heroes, the Millennium Falcon, rumored returning planets, designs based on Ralph McQuarrie art - that it will be distracting fan service, instead of being its own movie.

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I thought it was pretty great. As advertised, it does a good job of mirroring the spirit of the original trilogy without necessarily aping it. It's funny and fun. The dialogue is clunky, but for the most part it's Good Star Wars clunky, and not Bad Star Wars clunky. There are a few good emotional beats, especially in the middle act where they deliver their stolen goods and then siege the Star Destroyer. The action is well done and exciting. The characters show promise. The character animation is not terrific, specifically on the bacground characters and Wookiees, but it will get better as time passes and their library of digital models catches up with their vision relative to their budget.

I appreciate their in media res introduction of 4/5 main characters - very little exposition needed, all of the characters except the pilot are laid out for you in an action sequence, and then fleshed out later by showing and not telling.

It's much better than the Clone Wars pilot movie. I have high hopes. I heard from several people that the second episode is good as well, or better even - it's available online, free to download on iTunes or to stream on the Disney XD app. I'm holding off for the TV airing. The second episode features C-3PO and R2-D2 - seems a little early to be dipping so heavily into the preexisting Star Wars well, but I guess it's bound to happen.

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Does anyone think that Zeb's theme (or what I think is his theme) sounds a little like "The Basket Game"? It can be heard in the cue from "Droids in Distress" found here and in the "Entanglement" short starting at 0:49.

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Droids in Distress was poor. Series looks pretty "meh" so far. Not a patch on Clone Wars.

I liked "Rise of the Old Masters" a lot, with the exception of the villain's weapon - which doesn't really seem as dumb as some of the things they did in TCW (particularly bringing back Darth Maul).

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Does anyone think that Zeb's theme (or what I think is his theme) sounds a little like "The Basket Game"? It can be heard in the cue from "Droids in Distress" found here and in the "Entanglement" short starting at 0:49.

yes, i think it is.

Dave filoni also put a lot of indy references in The clone wars

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Droids in Distress was poor. Series looks pretty "meh" so far. Not a patch on Clone Wars.

I liked "Rise of the Old Masters" a lot, with the exception of the villain's weapon - which doesn't really seem as dumb as some of the things they did in TCW (particularly bringing back Darth Maul).

There's definitely been an improvement. Rise of the Old Masters is the best in the series so far. It just all seems very safe.

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Looking back now that the first season is over, I think Kiner did a decent job. I noticed fewer obvious Williams references as the season progressed, which was nice, but I still feel like he relied upon Williams’s scores too heavily. I feel like some of his character themes are too derivative (Ezra’s sounds like the opening to “The Battle of Endor,” Zeb’s sounds like “The Basket Game” from Raiders, and Sabine’s sounds like the ticking from the beginning of “The Tusken Camp and The Homestead”), but I liked his theme for the Inquisitor (especially in the finale—that whole episode had a very nice score).

Overall, I wish Kiner would avoid Williams’s themes unless it’s appropriate to use them—more like what he did in The Clone Wars. I liked Kiner’s work in The Clone Wars (it had its ups and downs as well), and I wish he use that style here.

I was reading an issue of Star Wars Insider a few weeks ago and came across an interview with Kiner where he stated that he thought it was “refreshing” to reuse Williams’s themes, and that in the spotting sessions the first thing they do is see what they can pull from Williams’s scores. He also mentioned that he had said basically “everything he wanted to say musically” during the six seasons of The Clone Wars.

I was surprised to read that. In a show full of new characters and situations with plenty of opportunities for new music, how do you run out of things to say?

(I loved the show, though. They improved with every episode. The second half of the season was great, especially once Tarkin showed up. I can't wait for season two!)

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Rebels has definitely been better than what I originally thought. However, I absolutely hate taking cues from the original trilogy and just sticking them in random places. Takes me completely out of show as those notes were written for specific scenes and a specific reason.

If Kiner thinks he is out of things to say then he needs to be fired. Absolutely lazy writing. I'm sure Ron Jones is available.

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That's rather unfair. You can thank the Star Wars video games, among other media, for keeping the franchise alive and healthy through the early '90s, creating enough momentum to catapult it back to the silver screen.

Erm. Is that really good? Ok, it gave John Williams the chance to write three, now four, more scores.

At any rate, budgets are often finite, regardless of the medium, and recycling what's popular and accessible is often easy.

How much music from Star Trek TOS and the Battlestar Galactica mini-series was recycled throughout the rest of their respective runs? Granted, TNG and DS9 never had to mooch music from their movies, but maybe their budgets were higher.

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I don't think music is allowed to be recycled since the 80's in US TV programs. Thats why TNG never tracked any music, like TOS did, or countless shows from the 50's, 60's, 70 etc...

It was a union thing.

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I don't think that legal issue is a problem with synthesized (or performed in the composers personal studio) TV scores, as there was a show I watched that reused music quite a bit

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Then it's simply one man's preference and opinion that the Star Wars movie music is simply better than most TV library music and shouldn't be treated as such, being recycled either wholly or just on paper for different works within the franchise. I don't have a problem with this because it doesn't come into my house at night and mess with the videos on my shelf and the files on my iPod for the movies.

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I've started watching Rebels.

Mein Gott the music... it's... it's... it's... pffff... in French I would say: "C'est n'importe quoi!"

Wait, I'm not telling that it's not "good", I'm telling that the JW themes are used anywhere, any way.

Tell me it's a Star Wars music generator that produced that... not a real composer! :lol:

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I do like Kiner's new themes and music, and some of the JW quotes are great - just wish the JW was used more sparingly, instead of wide swaps needle-dropped in. He really had a good thing going on Clone Wars.

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Thanks for pointing that out!

I wonder if an official release is still possible. I was hoping we would get more than a few extra cues that weren't already on StarWars.com. I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that one day we'll get that Kanan vs. the Inquisitor cue from the finale. That might be the best thing Kiner has written for the show so far.

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I haven't seen any of the show apart from the pilot and a handful of YouTube snippets, but I just plowed through the online tracks, and honestly I enjoy hearing Williams' themes—and, often, minor motifs like the AT-AT walker music—referenced more liberally and affectionately than I'm used to. (More liberally than Williams himself does in subsequent scores, honestly. Does anyone seriously think the Maestro would bring back, say, the ESB droid motif or the AT-AT motif in Episode VII even if there were a compelling reason to do so? No one has forgotten more amazing John Williams melodies than John Williams himself.) I agree that, in the one episode I watched, the misuse of Leia's or Luke's themes grated on me, but I just love those tunes so much, and they carry so much of the atmospheric weight of the franchise, that I'm more forgiving of it than I might otherwise be.

What I really can't get past, though, is the tinny and synthetic sound of almost everything in this score. Even when I'm amused by one of Kiner's ideas, like the aforementioned reworking of "The Battle of Hoth" or the charmingly tweaked "Glory of the Empire," I can't banish the image of a lone man on a keyboard in his basement cranking out this music. A Hero Complex blog article from last year claimed Kiner uses a 30-piece orchestra for Rebels, but honestly it sounds like three horns and a CASIO most of the time. I'm probably the least tolerant listener of sampled orchestras in general, and even I admit that the average DC Comics DVD movie has better sounding synths than this. It's an absolute dealbreaker for me on this score, and a shame, because as I said, I really do enjoy some of the Williams-isms, at least on their own terms outside of the episodes. Pity it all sounds just like Rogue Squadron.

 

 

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A Hero Complex blog article from last year claimed Kiner uses a 30-piece orchestra for Rebels

That was probably just the pilot or something.

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