Soundtrack Review: Jurassic World

22 years ago, Jurassic Park forever changed the way audiences saw movies. It was a monumental film and a crowning achievement due mostly to its groundbreaking visual effects and universal sense of wonder and fun. It was a sci-fi adventure film through and through and was one of visual effects powerhouse Industrial Light and Magic’s (ILM) absolute best films. Jurassic Park broke box office records and spawned three sequels, the most recent of which is Jurassic World and its soundtrack, the focus of this review. Michael Giacchino took John Williams’ original formula and added his own style to the proceedings, making for not only a fitting tribute to Mr. Williams’ sound but introduced a new style which combined both old and new. The results are a fresh score that balances action and childlike wonder, something Williams did and continues to do time and time again, especially with his many collaborations with director Steven Spielberg.

While Jurassic World may not be the most original of films, it is certainly full of plenty of fun. The PG-13 rating allows for many heart-pounding scares and action sequences, while falling under the umbrella of “family-friendly entertainment”. The first Jurassic Park established this very clearly and pretty much all of the sequels appropriately followed this reliable formula. World takes place two decades after the events of the first film and for some reason, has the park opened to the general public. Consumerism and and a new audience occupy the island and the fact that numerous lives were lost in the previous films doesn’t seem to matter to the park’s billionaire owner Simon Masrani (Irrfan Khan) and park’s operations manager Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard). Of course, things go horribly wrong when a new genetically engineered dinosaur escapes its paddock and wreaks havoc on the island and its visitors. Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) serves as the film’s hero since he has a unique ability to relate to and train Velociraptors. He quickly becomes the film’s rugged savior and predictability ensues.

The film’s score, which was written by Michael Giacchino, is a strong effort from the man who, over the course of the last decade, has become one of Hollywood’s most talented composers. He made a huge splash in 2004 with Pixar’s The Incredibles and since then, has scored various other Pixar features, Star TrekMission: Impossible – Ghost ProtocolDawn of the Planet of the Apes and so on. This year, he has scored Jupiter AscendingTomorrowland and Inside Out, so he certainly has his work cut out for him. Also worth noting is that Giacchino scored the score for The Lost World: Jurassic Park video game back in 1997.

The score for Jurassic World contains a healthy dose of action cues coupled with tender family themes and the occasional rendition of John Williams’ two classic themes. Track 1 “Bury the Hatchling” sets an ominous sci-fi mood. This then segways into the family theme, which is sweet and cheery. Track 3 “Welcome to Jurassic World” is by far, the best track on the album, for it presents a glorious rendition of William’s original theme and makes fans of the first film excited upon hearing the first few notes. This then leads into “As the Jurassic World Turns”, an epic cue which introduces the new Jurassic sound and counterbalances it with the old sound.

With the Williams sound making a strong appearance in the beginning portions of the score, Giacchino treats us to a substantial amount of action music in the middle and second half. These tense moments litter the score and during the rare quiet moments, we get some pretty routine filler score, moments of discovery and scenes in which Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard can flirt awkwardly. “Indominus Wrecks” is a great track that incorporates many styles and moods into one cue. “Gyrosphere of Influence” harkens back to Williams sound and “Pavane for a Dead Apatosaurus” introduces a cool militaristic march for Vincent D’Onofrio’s “villain” and InGen. “Chasing the Dragons” is a rhythmic action cue with a pounding beat which is quite dark. “Our Rex is Bigger Than Yours” presents a triumphant rendition of the film’s main theme and then sours into a tribal chant action cue. The remainder of the score is more of the same, mixing the action cues with the upbeat family theme.

All in all, Giacchino has done a fine job with Jurassic World. The film itself is much better than its predecessor, 2001’s dismal Jurassic Park III and the music is a fitting tribute to John Williams. Giacchino’s work here demonstrates a precision and skill few film composers this day possess. While World isn’t a perfect film, it is a great example that new filmmakers and composers can respect the classics while making new works of their own. Jurassic World is a solid adventure film and its score strongly reflects that fun and originality first established over two decades ago.

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