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Dark, action-packed sequel score is another thriller from Williams

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Album cover copyright (c) 1996 Universal City Studios, Inc. and Amblin Entertainment Inc.; review copyright (c) 2007 James Southall

After his landmark year in 1993 (when both Jurassic Park and Schindler's List were released), Steven Speilberg stepped back from directing for a while.  When he returned, it was a bit of a surprise to find that it was to direct a sequel to his dinosaur extravaganza (he had only previous directed a sequel to one of his films in the Indiana Jones series).  Michael Crichton was duly summoned to write a sequel to the novel, and base it around Jeff Goldblum's character, despite that character having died in the original novel (but not the film).  Crichton's book is nearly as entertaining as his first, a brilliantly-paced thriller - but then Spielberg discarded virtually everything in it for the film, which is a generally dark adventure punctuated by some lighthearted characters (notably Richard Schiff) but an overwhelming sense of crassness.

Needless to say, John Williams returned too - and crassness was nowhere in sight in his music.  I saw an amusing interview with Williams at the time.  Clad in his black turtleneck as usual, he was asked about his approach to the score.  "Well, The Lost World was a darker film than the first one," he began, before leaning forward and taking on a terribly serious look, as if he were about to uncover the best-kept secret in the universe, before his extraordinary scoring technique for the film was revealed.  "Because of this, I made the score darker, too."

Darker, it is.  It begins with a brilliant, tribal theme backed by jungle percussion, capturing the film brilliantly as usual.  This jungle theme continues through much of the score, with all sorts of drums accompanying the majority of it, giving it a wonderful atmosphere which is pretty much unlike anything else Williams has done (though, as others have pointed out, not entirely unlike Alan Silvestri's Predator scores, in particular the second).  The familiar themes from the first film are heard occasionally, but mostly kept away until the end credits - instead, Williams concentrates on creating something new.

The first couple of cues following the main theme are filled with a sense of foreboding, and of the dark  mystery of what lies ahead.  Then, the score explodes into life with one of its standout cues, the explosive action piece "The Hunt".  It was inexplicably dropped from the film and replaced by the main theme (which was also just plastered about elsewhere, replacing the music Williams wrote specifically for the scenes) - odd.  I can only assume the film was re-edited after Williams had scored it - I can't imagine Spielberg wouldn't have found the cue as fine as any Williams fan is likely to.

"Rescuing Sarah" is another top-drawer action piece, growling and snarling with terror before a wonderful, heroic finale.  The first film's raptor music makes a welcome reappearance in "The Raptors Appear", this time with the jungle overlay - it's a veritable feast of dark action music.  "The Compys Dine" is a perfectly-conceived piece of music for its scene - it sounds like it's from a horror movie, with the dissonant textures perfectly conveying a little irritant that is hard to shake off, before it begins to (literally, in this case!) consume you.

There follows a change of pace in the stately, noble "The Stegosaurus" - the score's one and only softer moment, and a gorgeous one at that - before the explosive, thunderous, pulsating finale "Ludlow's Demise" and the music for the film's silly tacked-on epilogue, "Visitor in San Diego", which somehow rises above the on-screen events to remain as classy and accomplished as Williams ever is.  (By the way, the "Ludlow" whose demise is musically recorded here is played by the actor Arliss Howard, who I think looks just like his namesake, James Newton Howard - such invaluable information for you here today.)  

While The Lost World doesn't reach the dizzy heights of its predecessor, there is a real consistency here, and the score is a real thrill-ride for Williams fans.  As such, it comes  recommended.  Unfortunately, the CD was released in ludicrous packaging, and as I look now I see that the "deluxe cardboard dinorama" has deteriorated substantially over the past decade, and the CD it contains is covered in scratches.  Who could ever have predicted that?


  1. The Lost World (3:33)
  2. The Island Prologue (5:03)
  3. Malcolm's Journey (5:43)
  4. The Hunt (3:30)
  5. The Trek (5:23)
  6. Finding Camp Jurassic (3:03)
  7. Rescuing Sarah (4:00)
  8. Hammond's Plan (4:31)
  9. The Raptors Attack (3:42)
  10. The Compys Dine (5:07)
  11. The Stegosaurus (5:20)
  12. Ludlow's Demise (4:26)
  13. Visitor in San Diego (7:37)
  14. Finale (7:54)