Latest reviews of new albums:
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
  • Composed by Michael Giacchino
  • Back Lot Music / 80m

The fifth film in the Jurassic Park franchise is the first not to be directed by Steven Spielberg, Joe Johnston or Colin Trevorrow, with J.A. Bayona stepping into the director’s chair this time around.  The plot is something like “wouldn’t it be a great idea to put a load of humans with all these dinosaurs?” / “oh shit that’s not great after all” and sees most of the cast of the previous film returning, along with series original Jeff Goldblum.  There may be a limit to just how much plot you can put against this scenario, but there’s seemingly no limit to how much people like watching it, and the film’s already gone well over $1bn in box office and the next one is, inevitably, already in development.

Michael Giacchino did a great job in Jurassic World of paying homage to John Williams with respectful use of his themes while developing a score around them that was very much his own, including a great theme, so it was no surprise to see him returning for the sequel, even if director Bayona has previously enjoyed a great relationship with Fernando Velázquez.  Impressively (if not surprisingly, given how his career has been going), he has managed to build on that first score, take things off into a new direction, and make another excellent one.

Michael Giacchino

The album is long – 26 tracks, 80 minutes – but it flies by in no time.  The opening cue, “This Title Makes Me Jurassic” – there’s action from the outset, thumping stuff, signalling what’s to come.  Not long later, “March of the Wheatley Cavalcade” is one of those thunderous pieces that Giacchino does so well, a neat little tune turned into this great big action extravaganza which features a genuinely unexpected piece of arrangement with a disguised choral version of the composer’s main theme from the previous film.

I would have to mention “Keep Calm and Baryonyx” anyway because, in a crowded field, I think it’s one of Giacchino’s funniest track titles to date – perhaps even better still, it’s also damn fine music, with some ferocious brass writing given an invigorating performance by the orchestra.  The following cue, “Go with the Pyroclastic Flow”, offers a good example of the “gothic horror” sound that was commented on in the weeks leading up to the film’s release – I’ve always said that most of life’s standout moments are enhanced if you have a big organ and there’s a big organ here, along with some devilishly dark choir and the trademark frantic strings and brass.

“Raiders of the Lost Isla Nublar” reprises the action theme from “March of the Wheatley Cavalcade” – and it’s even more thrilling here.  I don’t think anyone else is really writing this kind of brass-heavy action music for Hollywood any more: it’s notoriously hard to pull off without it sounding a bit corny in these days when everyone expects a load of barrel-scraping string ostinati with the HORN OF DOOM thrown in at random intervals, but this guy doesn’t just pull it off, he makes it soar.  Pulse-pounding stuff.

I’ve been concentrating on action, but there is balance – “Volcano to Death” features a soaring choral tragedy, and ends with a delicate snippet of John Williams’s theme for solo harp which is just delightful.  The melody underlying that piece is used as a kind of elegy representing the doom seemingly facing the dinosaurs in the film (threatened by an impending volcanic eruption) and it’s heard in full in surprisingly delicate fashion in the next piece, “Operation Blue Blood”, which after it’s vaguely The Lost World-like jungle percussion opening turns into something really quite moving.

The track to bang straight onto your Best of Giacchino playlists is “Jurassic Pillow Talk”, opening with some deceptively light winds playing over growling trombones – it goes full-on militaristic action before long and is dynamic, memorable and absolutely riveting, great film music and (of more importance to the album) just great music.  “Shock and Auction” is a great suspense piece featuring a trademark little motif that could be (perhaps is) from Lost, with a tremendous choral coda (it’s fascinating how the composer uses the choir here).

“Thus Begins the Indo-Rapture” is a colossus of a piece, featuring a truly stirring version of this score’s main theme – and then we’re back to dark action in “You Can Be So Hard-Headed”, where the composer’s statement that portions of the score are like the child of Stravinsky and Herrmann is so clearly borne out.  The action continues through several thrilling cues (“Declaration of Indo-pendence” with a very nice nod to Williams’s action style) before we arrive at the wonderful conclusion, “The Neo-Jurassic Age”, which opens with a mournful arrangement of the main Jurassic World theme before launching into a stunning rendition of this score’s one.  Following this comes the expected lengthy end credits suite, which reprises the score’s themes (only demerit: the unnecessarily florid arrangement of the Williams theme that opens the suite is the score’s only real misfire).

It might seem a strange thing to say, but I’m impressed at how different this is from Giacchino’s Planet of the Apes scores.  Superficially similar films I guess, but his approach to skinning the cat is completely different.  Having a distinctive style and managing to create scores that uniquely fit their own films while being recognisably part of the larger body of work is one of the hallmarks of the great film composers.  Perhaps it’s still too early to say if Michael Giacchino’s name is going to appear on the list of those in the years to come – I suspect he won’t have to keep doing what he’s doing for very long to assure it does, because he’s not only on top of his game, he’s scoring massive blockbusters one after the other.  I think I like Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom even more than its predecessor.

Rating: **** 1/2

See also:
Jurassic World Michael Giacchino | |

Tags: , ,

  1. Severin (Reply) on Tuesday 17 July, 2018 at 03:52

    The CD leaves off a couple tracks to have it down to 24 tracks/76 minutes, and I think it flows slightly better that way, but that could be just me. Either way, it holds its long listening quite nicely.
    For my ears, a better composed, performed and recorded Jurassic score than the previous, by a long shot!

  2. Tom de Ruiter (Reply) on Wednesday 1 August, 2018 at 16:54

    Great review. Loved the score very much!
    Was wondering if you’re going to do a review on The Incredibles 2 score?

  3. A Busy Man (Reply) on Friday 12 April, 2024 at 04:17

    This score is a treat with all its references to the Williams scores. The Wheatley march theme is clearly a riff on The Hunt from The Lost World, and there is at least one other moment that harkens back to, as opposed to directly quoting, Williams themes. But poor Giacchino, what a mess of a movie to have to score!