Soundtrack Review: Jurassic Park III

Composed by: Don Davis

Years after The Lost World, Spielberg took the producer’s seat for Jurassic Park’s third film entry. Joe Johnston took over directorial duties on Jurassic Park III. The third film seems a little out of place with the rest of the franchise. It only runs an hour and a half and the stakes are limited to finding a stranded boy on a dinosaur-infested island. It would have been at the level of a B-movie it wasn’t for some nifty special effects. I did appreciate how a new dinosaur, the Spinosaurus, got to take the role of main threat, though the film would too far out of the way to make it intimidating to the point that it was literally chasing the characters all the way across the island. This is another problem with the film, the dinosaurs stop being animals and start being monsters, to the point a T-Rex abandons a large meal to chase after scrawny humans.

With Spielberg merely the producer, John Williams also didn’t return and composing duties were handed to Don Davis, who at the time was experiencing his career high thanks to the Matrix movies. He had big shoes to fill. Did he succeed? The results are… so-so.

One major problem plagues the entire album. Don Davis pays tribute to John Williams so much that he almost endlessly pulls out the maestro’s themes at most of the important moments of the film. Almost every emotional moment has to have the Wonder or Adventure themes. Doing this, he neglects establishing own stamp on the franchise. His orchestrations of Williams’ themes can also come off as rushed and/or awkward. The very first appearance of the Adventure theme literally sounds like it’s failing.

One returning theme that is well incorporated, however, is the four-note raptor motif, which confused many when it wasn’t utilized to relevant scenes in The Lost World. Davis recognizes the effectiveness of a good, yet short theme and frequently places it into action cues like “The Raptor Room” and “Clash of Extinction”. I must also mention that the former cue features a good eerie opening with a choral moment.

As far as I can hear, the only new theme is one for the Nash family, a slightly adventurous family-friendly theme. It usually appears in a subdued variation, as with its first appearance in “Raptor Repartee”, but triumphantly breaks out in “Nash Calling” and “End Credits”.

Davis manages to emulate Williams’ sound well in the non-action cues, although his music doesn’t stick with you as well. The action is definitely the superior side of the album, although only a few of them actually grab my attention, and usually because they sound like Davis’ Matrix music.

Jurassic Park III is a decent follow up to the franchise’s other two soundtracks, but falls far too short of John Williams. It would probably have been better if Davis used less of Williams’ themes and created more of his own motifs.

Rating: 6/10

Tracklisting

  1. Isla Sorna Sailing Situation (4:23)
  2. The Dinosaur Fly-By (2:15)
  3. Cooper’s Last Stand (2:01)
  4. The Raptor Room (2:35)
  5. Raptor Repartee (3:06)
  6. Tree People (2:04)
  7. Pteranodon Habitat (3:04)
  8. Tiny Pecking Pteranodons (3:38)
  9. Billy Oblivion (2:51)
  10. Brachiosaurus on the bank (2:07)
  11. Nash Calling (3:38)
  12. Bone Man Ben (7:20)
  13. Frenzy Fuselage (4:01)
  14. Clash of Extinction (1:42)
  15. The Hat Returns/End Credits (5:10)
  16. Big Hat, No Cattle – performed by Randy Newman (4:24)
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s