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Jurassic World: Dominion
  • Composed by Michael Giacchino

Concluding the Chris Pratt trilogy, Jurassic World: Dominion also concludes the entire Jurassic saga if the PR is to be believed. I know this is crazy but I just can’t help but predict that we’ll be back here in a few years. This time round, some ill-advised corporate greed ends up unleashing dinosaurs on to unsuspecting human beings – great to see all the lessons have been learned from the previous five. Colin “There’s a Great Big Beautiful” Trevorrow (Jurassic World, The Book of Henry) is back in the director’s chair and Michael Giacchino (Star Trek Beyond, The Book of Henry) on-hand to complete his own musical trilogy.

On that note – how nice it is to see a composer get to do that. It doesn’t seem to happen particularly often these days. While his first Jurassic World score was trying to tread on somewhat similar ground to John Williams’s classic Jurassic Park, mixing awe-and-wonder with monster thrills, in the sequel Fallen Kingdom Giacchino pretty much went on an all-out-attack of monster music, also providing a genuine emotional core to the dinosaurs, and I’ve always found it to be one of his very finest scores. For Dominion he very much takes that as his starting point, but adds in (somewhat successfully) some ethnic elements inspired by the Maltese portion of the movie and (somewhat less successfully) a considerably greater electronic presence in some of the action music.

Michael Giacchino

There is one monster-sized elephant in the room, which is the album release – for a couple of weeks all we had was the digital album, which is monstrously long and which I found quite tedious and uninspiring. Fortunately a friend produced a deluxe edition in double-quick time which chopped it down to CD length; he chose to omit some of the duller suspense cues and much of the more electronic-heavy action material and all of a sudden the music was transformed for me, producing an album (not just a playlist, since he made edits within some cues to make them tighter) perhaps not quite as strong as Fallen Kingdom‘s, but not far behind. Then an actual CD album was released, which I haven’t heard.

The composer wastes no time in plunging us straight into the action in “Jurassi-logos / Dinow This”, reprising some key themes from his earlier scores and also briefly introducing us to his primary new theme for this film. We will hear it again in much broader form in “The Wages of Biosyn” before its standout performance, which comes in “A-Biosyn’ We Will Go”. Gentle piano introduces the piece before the orchestra swells and swirls in trademark Giacchino fashion, eventually treating us to a full blast of the melody from the horn section. It’s a great theme – full of mystery and adventure and this piece is surely destined to end up on everyone’s Michael Giacchino playlists. (Well, everyone who has a Michael Giacchino playlist. People who visit this website are statistically more likely to have one than people who do not, according to a survey I recently read in the Altoona Mirror. It’s very rare to see such insightful coverage in the MAIN STREAM MEDIA.)

All the themes you’d expect to return from the earlier scores do so – Williams’s two main melodies from the first score are rarely afforded centre-stage but there are some big appearances, Giacchino’s own main theme from Jurassic World is peppered throughout, as are that score’s family theme and the two main themes from Fallen Kingdom. We even get a little cameo from his raptor theme from The Lost World video game, as in the previous score. Despite once being (it seemed almost universally) described as heir-apparent to Williams, in truth Giacchino’s music is nothing like Williams’s so I do find it can be somewhat jarring when the classic themes are heard; the smooth treatment of the Fallen Kingdom themes on the other hand is a great positive here. “You’re Making Me Feel Wu-zy” offers the best example, the tragic dino theme now repurposed for B.D. Wong’s Henry Wu.

Otherwise, the star’s the action music. “The Maltese Dragons” and “You’re So Cute When You Smuggle” stand out a bit because of the ethnic element I mentioned two paragraphs ago, if you can remember that far back – otherwise the highlights are generally vintage monster music, starting early doors in “It’s Like Herding Parasurolophus” and continuing through a succession of great tracks throughout the album. “In Contempt of Delacourt” doesn’t just have a five-star track name, it’s a five-star piece of action music: ferocious percussion and brass with ever-moving strings which give it a tremendous momentum, and I love the brief interlude from guitars. Late on in the piece there’s a frantic, rising figure which takes me back to The Batman earlier in the year. Great stuff. Straight after this is the even more intense – and even more impressive – “Da Plane and Da Cycle”, which is so fast-paced and exciting, I’d put it as one of the greatest action cues of this composer’s career so far. I love that it’s all built around a melodic motif so you can remember it all afterwards.

Later on, “A Dimetrodon a Dozen” is great, a more restrained piece of action. Not surprisingly, as we near the finale the stakes get ever-higher. “Ladder and Subtract” has some screeching, angry brass and plenty more besides, with some sweeping passages of high drama for the full orchestra; and in “Battle Royale with Reprise”, the jungle percussion is pulled out with full force. “A-O-Kayla” is sweet and lovely before the rousing finale “All the Jurassic World’s a Rage”. “Larry, Curly and MOE” is a soft version of the main Williams theme leading into Giacchino for the main credits and – as usual with this composer – the album concludes with a lengthy suite (“Suite, Suite Dino Revenge”) covering all the score’s major territory, including that wonderful new Biosyn theme.

Giacchino clearly thrives on working on big franchises and it’s so good that he’s had the chance to see this sequel trilogy through. He also clearly loves writing this kind of monster music (how he hasn’t done any of the modern Kong or Godzilla movies I don’t know) and this score features an absolute load of that. While the released lengthy album doesn’t really do the score justice, there’s no doubt how good it is at its peak and you don’t really need to cut all that much out to enjoy it to its fullest potential. 2022 is turning into a banner year for this composer, who just keeps delivering.

Rating: ****

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  1. Marco Ludema (Reply) on Sunday 3 July, 2022 at 18:29

    I feel like that Trevorrow joke could have come from Giacchino himself. 😉

    Any thoughts about Giacchino’s other recent movie trilogy finishers (that being Spider-Man: Far From Home/No Way Home)?

    • James Southall (Reply) on Sunday 3 July, 2022 at 18:37

      I liked the second one. The third one wore me out a bit. I haven’t really been inspired to go back and listen to it much after the first couple of goes. Everyone else seems to really like it so I don’t know what I’m missing.

      • Marco Ludema (Reply) on Sunday 3 July, 2022 at 18:50

        Yeah, the second one is my favorite as well, particularly because of the excellent Mysterio theme (my favorite Spidey villain theme).

  2. Edmund Meinerts (Reply) on Sunday 3 July, 2022 at 21:36

    “(how he hasn’t done any of the modern Kong or Godzilla movies I don’t know)”

    Perhaps it’s okay if there’s *one* movie franchise Giacchino doesn’t get attached to at some point or another haha (though I’d take him over Junkie XL any day)

    • Mastadge (Reply) on Friday 22 July, 2022 at 02:03

      But he has had his kaiju fun with Cloverfield, which was perhaps a little bit inspired by Akira Ifukube.