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The Phantom Menace vs. The Force Awakens


Josh500
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The Phantom Menace vs. The Force Awakens   

62 members have voted

  1. 1. Which John Williams score do you like better?

    • Star Wars: The Phantom Menace
      43
    • Star Wars: The Force Awakens
      19


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Which score do you like better, and why?

 

I was surprised that, when TFA came out, so many people went crazy over it. Don't get me wrong, it's a great score, fantastic even, but in my opinion it doesn't stand a chance against TPM. I mean, Duel of the Fates, Flag Parade, Anakin's Theme, Fighting the Destroyers, Qui-Gonn's Theme etc. The score of TPM, if not the movie, is perfection! 

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The Phantom Menace isn't my favourite Star Wars score but it's undeniable that JW was firing on all cylinders in every single cue. Hard to argue the same for TFA, where many cues (notably the underscore) feel very lean and uninspired by his usual standards. Nothing is ever at KOTCS levels of disinterest but TFA feels like it's holding back (hopefully by design).

 

Anyway, I put that down to the exhausting writing process. You can only re-write the same cue so many times before wanting the whole process to end.

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Personally, the two are tied for fourth best Star Wars score in my book, after ESB, ANH, and ROTJ. TPM is a more rollicking, bombastic score, with an eerie, mystical undertone, while Williams' music for TFA is a more subtle, softer soundtrack with more elegant and "wispy" themes. Even with them both being Star Wars soundtracks, it's rather hard to compare them, as they're both very unique scores, and their strengths are very dissimilar.

 

Perhaps you should've included a third "I can't decide, they're both great scores" option.

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I’ve started to appreciate TFA a lot more in the past few weeks but it’s still probably the weakest of his Star Wars scores.

 

I’d probably rank them;

 

ANH

ROTS

TESB

TPM

AOTC

ROTJ

TFA

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10 minutes ago, JohnSolo said:

Perhaps you should've included a third "I can't decide, they're both great scores" option.

 

That they're both great scores is perfectly understood. You make it sound like choosing one over the other makes the other not great.

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6 minutes ago, El Jefe said:

Rey’s Theme > Most themes in JW’s long career. 

 

Still doesn’t make TFA one of his best scores though!

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TFA feels like a streamlined version of Star Wars. However the TPM is weighted down by a lot of muddling music that just covers scenes with dialogue and feels over scored at times.

 

Its hard to pick a winner until I can hear each score, complete, mastered and assembled properly as Williams intended.

 

 

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7 minutes ago, El Jefe said:

Rey’s Theme > Any theme in the prequels.

 

This seems to be a running gag on jwfan, but it's hardly based in reality.

 

It's a great and very original theme for sure, but certainly not better than any new theme from the prequels.

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The Phantom Menace, of course.

 

One thing that really works in TFA's favor is the performance and recording just make it awesome to listen to. That's not to say the same isn't true for TPM. To me, TPM has better music, but TFA with its dry punchy sound comes alive a bit more and you really want to crank it up and destroy your audio equipment. Much of TFA is Williams copying himself in an almost Horner-esque way, though. Still an entertaining score, to be sure, and a welcome one.

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3 minutes ago, The Doctor said:

 TFA with its dry punchy sound comes alive a bit more and you really want to crank it up and destroy your audio equipment. 

 

Okay, I never had the desire to do that! 😂 

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TPM has more Williams pulling a Horner than TFA.

 

 

34 minutes ago, Josh500 said:

 

This seems to be a running gag on jwfan, but it's hardly based in reality.

 

It's a great and very original theme for sure, but certainly not better than any new theme from the prequels.

 

 

I may may have been away from this place for awhile but I don’t see this as a gag.

 

Rey’s theme is held in high esteem by quite a bit of the film score community, even outside of this forum. 

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TPM is much better, although TFA is better than AOTC and most of ROTS. Although I like the score very much in general, I belong to the minority that does not consider Rey's theme that great. Among the themes for the major characters of the saga, it is probably my least favourite. Not even comparable to the torrid theme for Princess Leia.

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48 minutes ago, El Jefe said:

Rey’s theme is held in high esteem by quite a bit of the film score community, even outside of this forum. 

 

See, that's the problem with many posters here... They only seem capable of thinking in extremes.

 

It's not one extreme or the other. Of course it's a great theme, and loved by many. Who said anything different? Nobody said it sucks the big one! But that doesn't mean it's better than anything else JW has ever done, or even that it's better than anything from the prequel scores. 

 

A big difference. 

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3 minutes ago, Josh500 said:

 

See, that's the problem with many posters here... They only seem capable of thinking in extremes.

 

It's not one extreme or the other. Of course it's a great theme, and loved by many. Who said anything different? Nobody said it sucks the big one! But that doesn't mean it's better than anything else JW has ever done, or even that it's better than anything from the prequel scores. 

 

A big difference. 

 

Hmmm, to a lot of people this poll will be “which of these sucks” rather than “which do you prefer”. 

 

I enjoy both scores but prefer TPM. 

 

TFA grows on me every time I hear it!

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2 hours ago, The Doctor said:

The Phantom Menace, of course.

 

 

Is it bad that I read that in Kitster’s voice?

 

 

but yeah, TPM score is a masterpiece while TFA is simply great. 

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Scores:

  1. The Empire Strikes Back (10/10)
  2. A New Hope (10/10)
  3. The Phantom Menace (9/10)
  4. Return of the Jedi (9/10)
  5. Revenge of the Sith (8/10)
  6. The Last Jedi (presumably) (8?/10)
  7. Attack of the Clones (7/10)
  8. The Force Awakens (7/10)

Movies:

  1. The Empire Strikes Back (10/10)
  2. A New Hope (9/10)
  3. The Force Awakens (9/10)
  4. The Last Jedi (presumably) (8?/10)
  5. Return of the Jedi (6/10)
  6. Attack of the Clones (6/10)
  7. Revenge of the Sith (5/10)
  8. The Phantom Menace (5/10)

All in All:

  1. The Empire Strikes Back (20/20)
  2. A New Hope (19/20)
  3. The Force Awakens (16/20)
  4. The Last Jedi (presumably) (16?/20)
  5. Return of the Jedi (15/20)
  6. The Phantom Menace (14/20)
  7. Revenge of the Sith (13/20)
  8. Attack of the Clones (13/20)
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Movies:

1. Revenge of the Sith

2. The Phantom Menace

3. Attack of the Clones

(those last two interchangeable)

4. Ewoks: The Battle for Endor

5. The Ewok Adventure

6-whatever = everything else

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5 hours ago, Josh500 said:

I was surprised that, when TFA came out, so many people went crazy over it.

Who were these great multitudes?  I remember subdued appreciation (at best) by most people, including Jwfaners. 

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In regards to the poll's question, I do agree with those who say The Phantom Menace is a lot more colorful and exuberant, and I do ultimately prefer it to The Force Awakens, slow moments granted. I love the genuine sense of optimism, joy, and fun that The Phantom Menace exudes.

 

That said, there's tracks in The Force Awakens,  like "Follow Me", that pull off that Star Wars feeling blissfully well; the feeling I got as a 10 year old listening to the original movie's soundtrack while looking out my window into the night sky.

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46 minutes ago, Nick Parker said:

Is this the part where I say Attack of the Clones is my favorite prequel score?

Some days I agree with you on that. It sits in a "gray" area aesthetically, for lack of a better word and that appeals to me. 

 

On the matter at hand....TFA feels like a more focused score in terms of how it plays out. It has stronger thematic material (I am convinced that a large part of Rey's appeal is the music), and Williams got a lot of mileage out of that material. In a lot of ways I like the lean approach we got in 2015, but some of the underscore does sound a little anonymous. TPM is very extravagant, but never in an unbearable way. It is a Technicolor score, is the way I think of it. The colors are exceptionally vivid. I think TPM is better as a whole, but that doesn't mean I like it more. 

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Four words: Duel of the Fates.

 

(However, I think TFA is much better in the film itself, given the way TPM was hacked to bits.  Also, The Jedi Steps and Finale tramples all over Augie's Great Municipal Band!)

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17 minutes ago, Matt S. said:

Four words: Duel of the Fates.

 

(However, I think TFA is much better in the film itself, given the way TPM was hacked to bits.  Also, The Jedi Steps and Finale tramples all over Augie's Great Municipal Band!)

See, I want to like Duel of the Fates. I just always come away thinking it is some of the least interesting material in a score where the new themes are weak and not applied in anything resembling a consistent manner (though who knows what the cut Williams spotted and wrote to looked like, compared to what was released). Duel of the Fates doesn't have much substance to it, and it isn't developed well at all, because there isn't enough to develop.

 

But yes, The Jedi Steps is probably tied for second-best finale after ESB (the tie is with Star Wars and maybe AOTC).

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Duel of the Fates does suffer from the fact that it's introduced late in the film. It doesn't have the chance to "grow" on the audience.

 

At most, you could say some of the "lyrics" (which are just a couple of syllables, really) in Darth Maul's theme presage the theme, but that's not enough. But it's still a good theme! Anakin's theme is, as well. And while it isn't thematic per se, I love the underwater female choir.

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Voted for TPM. Both are 5 star scores but TPM is JW at his very very best.

 

I think TPM has one of the greatest differences between the quality of the score and the quality of the movie in cinema history.

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1 hour ago, Hawmy said:

I like TPM better. TFA has really good themes, but it plods through most of the underscore. TPM isn't as strong thematically, but the way the rest of the score is written is incredible.

 

Agreed!

2 hours ago, Damien F said:

Voted for TPM. Both are 5 star scores but TPM is JW at his very very best.

 

Agreed!

2 hours ago, Thor said:

Oh, THE PHANTOM MENACE is in a whole other league.

 

Agreed!

4 hours ago, Matt S. said:

Four words: Duel of the Fates.

 

One of the best, most powerful, and most memorable pieces of musical composition in modern history! 

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5 hours ago, Damien F said:

I think TPM has one of the greatest differences between the quality of the score and the quality of the movie in cinema history.

Another example: ST:TMP has an even bigger range of quality between score and film than SW:TPM.

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9 hours ago, Matt S. said:

 

 

However, I think TFA is much better in the film itself, given the way TPM was hacked to bits.

 

This is true and basically the main thing. The score has to be great in film. TFA is, I'm not sure TPM is. Even a cue as great as Flag Parade does not achieve anything close to the awe-inspiring effect it should because it is burried under sound effects.

 

8 hours ago, Seth said:

See, I want to like Duel of the Fates. I just always come away thinking it is some of the least interesting material in a score where the new themes are weak and not applied in anything resembling a consistent manner (though who knows what the cut Williams spotted and wrote to looked like, compared to what was released). Duel of the Fates doesn't have much substance to it, and it isn't developed well at all, because there isn't enough to develop.

 

Duel of the fates is strictly okay. The main melody is okay-ish. The surrounding material is good but undone by a main melody that is not very inspired.

 

8 hours ago, Chen G. said:

Duel of the Fates does suffer from the fact that it's introduced late in the film. It doesn't have the chance to "grow" on the audience.

 

The same could be said of Jedi Steps. It is also a much shorter cue - like 2 minutes. And only played during the finale.

 

But what helps it immensely is that it's a quiet moment story and action wise with little sound so the music is basically center stage, clearly heard and allowed to carry the scene. And boy does Williams carry the scene.

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