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Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
  • Composed by Henry Jackman
  • Sony Classical / 61m

I don’t think expectations were particularly high for Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, so it has come to be seen as a success given its middling reaction.  A sequel to the Robin Williams film, with Dwayne Johnson now taking the lead, the board game takes on a new set of victims.  I don’t think expectations were particularly high for Henry Jackman’s score, either – his exceptionally dull score for Kong: Skull Island earlier in the year didn’t exactly do much to raise them.  So it’s a great pleasure to discover that he’s written a proper film score for this one, which attempts to inject thrills and excitement, and – I don’t think anybody saw this coming – it has an old-school, memorable main theme.  When presented in the Overture, it sounds distinctly like something Alan Silvestri might write (in fact, it sounds distinctly like something Alan Silvestri did write, namely “March of the Lava” from Volcano) and right at the start of the second cue, “Digging up the Past”, we hear the trademark Back to the Future twinkle (not entirely inappropriately, I suppose); later, do I hear a bit of Predator 2?

It’s certainly the sort of thing in fact that might have been written by someone around the time James Horner wrote his score for the original, though it doesn’t sound anything like that one (which has always split opinion).  There is a touch of Horner about it at times – The Perfect Storm, actually – but that’s more from a shared nod towards Aaron Copland.  Yes, there’s a bit of percussion that you wouldn’t have found before Hans Zimmer took over everything, but that’s quite sparing and the dominant sound is always that of the orchestra.  The plethora of action music is melodic, based on different motivic fragments of the main theme, and the excitement generated is genuine.  It’s always been obvious that Henry Jackman’s got great compositional chops, but he’s more often been able to show that in animation than live-action movies; it’s great to hear him getting the opportunity to flex his muscles on a big blockbuster like this one.  It won’t win any awards, but it’s a great deal of fun: big theme, lots of orchestral action/adventure, the requisite amount of sweep – there used to be half a dozen of scores like this every month, it seemed, but they’re so rare these days it seems like something worth drawing attention to, especially given it seems to have slipped under the radar somewhat.  Hope Mr Jackman gets to do this sort of thing more often – he’s clearly very good at it.

Rating: *** 1/2

See also:
Jumanji James Horner
Kong: Skull Island Henry Jackman | |

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  1. James Southall (Reply) on Sunday 21 January, 2018 at 20:49

    Same rating as I gave the Horner score… I hate star ratings.

    • jjstarA113 (Reply) on Monday 22 January, 2018 at 21:00

      Maybe you should ditch the star ratings like Broxton eventually did.

    • James (Reply) on Tuesday 23 January, 2018 at 01:02

      Or change to ***

    • Edmund Meinerts (Reply) on Monday 29 January, 2018 at 12:03

      I actually think giving the two of them the same rating seems about fair. Jumanji is a lower-tier work by a phenomenal composer, Welcome to the Jungle an upper-tier work by an average one. For me they average out to about the same.

  2. Justin (Reply) on Thursday 25 January, 2018 at 01:16

    “It’s ce3rtainly the sort of thing”


  3. Red Shield (Reply) on Friday 26 January, 2018 at 20:14

    James I’m dying to read your review on Henry Jackman’s Kingsman The Golden Circle score! Please do that soon, it’s been out for some time now!