John Williams
& Don Davis,
Jurassic Park III
(Universal Classics, 2001)

Jurassic Park III carries on the tradition of fast-paced thrills, awe-inspiring vistas and fearsome monsters. The soundtrack expresses all these things very clearly. While John Williams did not take a direct part in creating music for this movie, composer Don Davis emulates "the Great One's" presence to an amazing degree. The familiar themes from the first two movies still pop up from time to time, so Williams is still given credit on the album.

It seems that when Williams is on board to compose the music for a movie, the themes often take a front seat right along with the actual pictures on the screen. You can recognize a film by hearing the "Imperial March" just as easily as seeing Darth Vader himself. The themes are tailor-made to fit what is happening on screen, and the music is always noticeable, sometimes to the point that critics claim it is over the top. Indeed, it seems hardly justified to call Williams' themes "background music." It is quite the accomplishment that his themes are so identifiable in our movie culture.

It seems Davis (who did the score for The Matrix) did his homework in studying the music from the first two movies, because the music retains a Williams feel -- even outside of the four main themes borrowed from the other movies. Also, Jurassic Park III is more action-oriented, and this is reflected in the soundtrack. We all know the story of the island genetics lab and how wonderful it was all going to be -- the exposition is not necessary in this movie. As such, the soundtrack alternates between suspense and full-blown action in scores like "The Raptor Room" and "Pteranodon Habitat." "Clash of Extinction" is an old-fashioned monster theme if I've ever heard one. However, there are some serene and majestic moments in "The Dinosaur Fly-By" and "Tree People." An interesting addition to the soundtrack is a Randy Newman song named "Big Hat, No Cattle." Of course, seeing Newman on a soundtrack album is no rare occurrence. Still, the choice of song is more than a little amusing.

Davis takes up Williams' themes and tweaks them admirably to fit the context of the new movie. His new material holds up very well. You can tell why he was handpicked by Williams to do the music for this movie. Hopefully he will still be on board to do the music for Jurassic Park XVII when it inevitably comes time to do so.

[ by Patrick Derksen ]
Rambles: 7 September 2002

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