- Composed by Don Davis
- Decca / 2001 / 54m
The final entry (so far) in the franchise, Jurassic Park III is a whole host of fun. Never taking itself too seriously, not nearly so dark as the second one, and moving along at a breakneck pace throughout, director Joe Johnston (taking over from Steven Spielberg, who evidently didn’t fancy another trip back 65 million years) and his actors (William H. Macy, predictably, in particular) bring exactly the right tone. Interestingly, the screenplay was co-written by Alexander (Sideways) Payne.
With Spielberg not back, neither was John Williams – well, not quite, anyway. Don Davis was hired to write the score, but (presumably at the insistence of the filmmakers) he not only incorporated a lot of Williams’s music from the first film, but also wrote in Williams’s style for most of the rest of it. It’s not a Superman 2 style adaptation, though – Davis keeps things fresh, and does an admirable job of trying to sound like Williams. The number of Williams themes used here is surprisingly high – not just the main two from the first film, but also a hint of the raptor theme, and even the somewhat obscure stegosaurus theme from the second film. The irony is that had Williams himself scored this film, he wouldn’t have recycled nearly so much music – and it seems a bit of a shame that the filmmakers didn’t have a bit more confidence in Davis to fashion his own music.
Anyway, the composer still fashioned a fast-moving, exciting score. The opening cue, “Isla Sorna Sailing Situation”, builds a lot of dark action music around occasional appearances by Williams’s fanfare theme. Davis really gets going with his own material in the fantastic “Cooper’s Last Stand”, a gloriously over-the-top piece of thrilling action music, with the Hollywood orchestra’s brass section certainly earning their money. “The Raptor Room” features a fluttering pan flute with an ethereal choir before exploding into life with yet more frantic action. It’s terrific stuff, with the kind of outlandish orchestration Williams would be proud of.
This is relentless music, moving along at breakneck pace, and Davis maintains high levels of quality throughout (a particular action highlight is the thrilling “Billy Oblivion”). An occasional respite is needed, and that is provided by the main new theme for the film, a nostalgic theme for the family in peril. It is first heard (briefly) towards the end of “Raptor Repartee” – it’s very old-fashioned, but quite delightful. It’s given a full, sweeping presentation in the end credits suite (“The Hat Returns”).
This is high-quality music – obviously not up to the standards of Williams’s own work on the first two films, but given the shackles placed on Davis, it’s amazing that it’s as good as it is. The album doesn’t outstay its welcome, and the music is probably one of the most impressive Williams approximations that anyone’s ever done (and many have tried – most of them with less good reason than Davis had here). Recommended!
Rating: *** 1/2