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 while Joe Johnston took over directorial duties. Jurassic Park III 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 went too far out of its 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. Continue reading

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 a far inferior film. Actually, a lot of the elements are good, especially Pete Postlethwaite as big game hunter Roland Tembo, as well as 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 the music 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. Continue reading

Soundtrack Review: Jurassic Park

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Composed and Conducted by: John Williams

Jurassic Park began as a novel by Michael Crichton. It’s one of my favorite books of all time, obviously because of the dinosaurs. But it also deals with genetics and the incapability of man to control nature (“Life finds a way”, Jeff Goldblum puts it). The rights for a movie based on the book were quickly snatched up by Steven Spielberg, but he patiently waited until he was sure that film technology could do the story justice. It paid off tremendously, showing the potential of CGI while using practical effects to bolster the realism. Incredibly, and also pathetically, its CGI still outperforms today’s big budget affairs.

Along with Schindler’s List, Jurassic Park was part of the one-two 1993 punch involving Spielberg and John Williams. It shows how top on his game they were, both producing two of their greatest works in a single year. While the book had its humorous moments, it was very cynical and violent. The film has cynicism and violence, too, but Spielberg’s lighthearted manner of storytelling takes over. The movie actually departs from the book quite a bit, and yet both book and film are amazing. Continue reading

Star Wars Episode VII: The Last Jedi

Composed by: John Williams

The followup to the Force Awakens, the Last Jedi opened to critical acclaim, but had a lot of detractors among fans and Youtube critics. I actually loved it and think it’s the third best Star Wars movie. I think people had too much expectations and were disappointed when the movie went in another direction. I liked being surprised and I thought the character development for Kylo Ren was particularly fascinating. I can understand why some people may be upset with the film, but I think calling it worse than the prequels is a bit far. Speaking of the prequels, the one thing everyone actually loved about those movies was John Williams’ music. The same can be said for the maestro’s Last Jedi score. Continue reading

Soundtrack Review: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

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Composed and Conducted by: John Williams

Nearly two decades after Indiana Jones literally rode into the sunset with Last Crusade, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas decided to revisit the franchise, a move with its fair share of controversy since Harrison Ford was noticeably much, much older. Kingdom of the Crystal Skull has gotten mixed reviews, and is often cited as the worst movie in series. I have to agree that it’s the worst, but despite some serious flaws, especially its underwhelming last act, I think it’s an okay movie with some genuinely great scenes.

One of the most exciting aspects of Indiana Jones coming back was the return of John Williams, who at this point had just started to take it easier with his movie scoring schedule. As with his return to Star Wars, much time had elapsed since he scored Indiana Jones. Would his changed style of scoring affect how fun the score would be? Continue reading