The Lost World: Jurassic Park

Composed and Conducted by: John Williams

After the success of Jurassic Park Spielberg was asked to direct a sequel. There is some contention about how much he wanted to do it since he was busy building up Dreamworks. Regardless, it’s an inferior film. Actually, a lot of the pieces are good, especially Pete Postlethwaite as big game hunter Roland Tembo and many of the action scenes. But the film is riddled with plot holes and a couple heroes who despite the film telling us are protecting dinosaurs from exploitation in fact endanger themselves and every other human in the film with their stupidity. It’s a bad Spielberg film, which means it’s at least an okay film overall.

John Williams surprised many, and according to some disappointed, with his decision to take the music in a very different direction. Since the setting is changed from a theme park to a wild island were dinosaurs have been allowed to roam free, he decided that score should be more primal. Thus the soundtrack is much more dissonant, rife with percussion. Listening to this score makes one realize that if he wants to Williams can really let loose with the percussion and this gives the entire product a wholly unique flavor in his repertoire. The atmosphere is one of a lurking jungle punctuated by moments of intense terror. The drawback is that the music isn’t as consistently enjoyable as the first film’s, but at least Williams didn’t ape himself.

Grand themes are kept to a bare minimum. “Main Theme from Jurassic Park” only appears right before the end credits roll, the film offering no moments where it’s wonder can be revealed. There is a brief moment at the start of “Hammond’s Plan” which sounds like it could be a variation, but it’s very brief. The Adventure theme on the other hand fits right in with the jungle and safari music and manages to get a couple grand statements in.

John Williams offers two new themes. The Lost World is a rousing adventure theme backed by plenty of percussion. The first track is a concert arrangement, but outside of it its only full-fledged appearance on the album is “Malcolm’s Journey”. There’s a calm iteration in “Finale”. It’s other appearances are partial, such as in “The Hunt” and “Hammond’s Plan”. The failure to present more of this theme in fuller form is both a pro and a con. It’s a great tune that demands more use, yet many of the tracks where it could have been used are pretty col regardless. Spielberg or the producers must have wanted more of it as parts of the concert arrangement are liberally inserted into the film itself. This means much of the album material didn’t make it into the movie, which can leave listeners wondering when they heard it in the film.

Once again, the designated main theme’s appearances are outnumbered by another. This one is a four-note suspense motif which is a reverse of the Raptor theme (strangely the Raptor theme only appears once in the whole film). This motif is right at the outset of “The Island Prologue”. It’s shortness makes it easy to insert into the many action and suspense cues. Like the Raptor theme it sometimes appears singularly and sometimes gets repeated often, as in the climax of “Visitor in San Diego”. Williams does develop a kind of motif for the Compys (really small dinosaurs that turn out to be quite the threat), with dissonant high-pitched strings in “The Island Prologue” and “The Compys Dine”.

The album starts off with “The Lost World” theme and then “The Island Prologue”, which opens with the suspense motif, continues with nondescript suspense, and then breaks out in the Compys’ music. “Malcolm’s Journey” is the only other full-fledged use of the the Lost World theme. “The Hunt” is the first of several thrilling action cues that utilizes the first few notes of the Lost World theme as its own motif. It was absent from the film, edited over by the complete Lost World theme and sections of other action cues. “The Trek” is a slow percussive track that sees the first appearance of the Adventure theme from the previous film,  and concludes with dissonant orchestral strikes. “Finding Camp Jurassic” is another slow piece with one brief statement of the Adventure theme.

“Rescuing Sarah” is a frenetic percussive cue with lots of blasts from the horn section. It all leads to an end where the percussion cuts out and the rest of the orchestra swells into a good fanfare which unfortunately doesn’t get any development into a recurring motif. “Hammond’s Plan” contains two cues, the first a uninteresting until a bold but brief statement of the Adventure theme lifted from “Jurassic Park Gate”. The second is a simple but cool percussive piece with an altered version of the Lost World theme which builds into loud terror as humans walk into a dinosaur trap.

“The Raptors Appear”is a wild intense action cue with plenty of dissonance and eerie sounds, as well as a lot of the four-note suspense motif.”The Compys Dine” has the racing, high-pitched Compy music and then has a very ominous repetition of the suspense motif which builds to some loud bangs. “The Stegosaurus” is the closest the soundtrack gets to the childlike wonder of the first film, much more subdued and being supplanted by suspense at the end. “Ludlow’s Demise” is another slow suspense cue that builds into an action crescendo, this one being absent from the film and replaced by the Lost World theme. “Visitor in San Diego” is the action finale. It’s not as good as “T-Rex Rescue and Finale”, but it does have the Adventure theme and a good use of the suspense motif towards the end. “Finale and Jurassic Park Theme” begins with a brief statement of the Lost World theme and then the Wonder theme. Unfortunately the end credits portion is the horribly rushed version of “Welcome to Jurassic Park” that some reason appears on Williams compilations instead of the original version. It also would have been nice to have the Lost World theme again, but I guess he wanted to make up for the absence of the grandiose themes.

When I first listened to this album my reaction was mixed. There were a couple pieces I loved, but I wanted more of the Lost World theme and I found a lot of the music dull. On further listens my opinion has changed tremendously. There are a couple dull moments, but overall I love the dark, savage atmosphere William used. The action has repetitive drumbeats, but the composer doesn’t slouch, making sure to put in all kinds of dissonant twists and turns with the orchestra to keep listeners entertained.

For anyone who’s interested, there’s a complete score from La-La Land. Unlike the previous film there is plenty of previously unreleased material and a lot of it sounds pretty cool, though all the real highlights have already been released.

Final Rating: 8/10

Tracklisting

  1. The Lost World (3:33)
  2. The Island Prologue (5:03)
  3. Malcolm’s Journey (5:44)
  4. The Hunt (3:30)
  5. The Trek (5:23)
  6. Finding Camp Jurassic (3:03)
  7. Rescuing Sarah (4:01)
  8. Hammond’s Plan (4:30)
  9. The Raptors Appear (3:43)
  10. The Compys Dine (5:07)
  11. The Stegosaurus (5:20)
  12. Ludlow’s Demise (4:27)
  13. Visitor in San Diego (7:37)
  14. Finale and Jurassic Park Theme (7:54)
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