Jurassic Park III
Decca Records, 2001
REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 07/31/2001
I saw the original Jurassic Park in the theatres - scared the hell out of me. Maybe that's why I wasn't one of the sheep who went out to see The Lost World when it came out, and why I haven't made a point to see Jurassic Park III. (The pinball game for Jurassic Park, however, was excellent.)
But you only need to have seen one of the films in this series to recognize the themes that master composer John Williams penned, selections of music which immediately identify them with this particular film. Don Davis picks up the baton (as well as pen) on Jurassic Park III, and does what could well be the unthinkable: he matches up to Williams's excellence.
Indeed, unless you've made a career out of studying the work of Williams and Davis, you'd be hard-pressed to say where Williams's score ends ( Jurassic Park III uses elements from the original film's soundtrack) and Davis's handiwork begins. This is meant to be high praise for Davis; he's able to keep the original musical feel of Williams's work without weakening the original or sounding like he's trying for a note-for-note copy.
It had to be a daunting challenge, but is one that Davis is more than ready to meet. Selections like "Cooper's Last Stand," "Raptor Repartee" and "Tiny Pecking Pteranodons" all keep a tense mood to the music, as the listener is left to wonder what kind of carnage our gigantic gas-tank buddies are up to in the corresponding scenes of the film. The use of percussion is the most effective, and if you're listening to this disc with headphones, be ready to occasionally jump to the ceiling, feeling like a Tyrannosaurus just tapped you on the shoulder. How Davis was able to maintain the level of suspense like he did, I don't know, but I'm thrilled he did.
The only moment that seemed like it could have been out of place (at least until I got to the selection) was Randy Newman's inclusion. "Big Hat, No Cattle" didn't seem like it was going to be the kind of song that was a match for the intensity of Davis's score. Instead, Newman's country-esque lilt provides a delicate balance to the preceeding score, almost easing the listener down from the perch of suspense they had been placed on from almost note number one. Not only does Newman's song belong, it's almost essential for the disc to come full circle.
Jurassic Park III is the kind of soundtrack for which most composers would sell their souls to the Devil. Davis might not have had to go that far, but he inherited a rich musical legacy with this project, and lived up to the challenges it posed. This is an entertaining disc that will keep you spellbound throughout. (It also comes with a multimedia portion - which, regrettably, I haven't hat the time to peruse yet.)