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 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Friday May 22, 2020 


Perhaps it was helpful to composer Don Davis that The Matrix didn’t have any. Themes that is. Not dinosaurs. His Matrix score was acclaimed for its Philip Glass and John Adams-influenced, post-modern minimalism, but a cache of hummable motifs wasn’t its strong point. So obviously he’d be the perfect choice to score a film with pre-scored themes.

A fun theory, but complete nonsense of course. Davis got the gig for a much grander reason: recommendation by the bloke who wrote the original Jurassic Park themes that the producers were so committed to. A film scorer whose imprimatur carries a little clout.

If filling John Williams’ dinosaur-sized boots might have been intimidating, then being appointed by the maestro’s own recommendation to score the latest Jurassic instalment—whilst maintaining those original themes—might have had some composers cowering like they were confronted by a Tyrannosaurus. Davis, however, has picked up the baton and run with it. Instead of being restricted by Williams’ themes he uses them with great intelligence and integrity as a foundation for a superb soundtrack, which features plenty of original flair.

In all honesty, I don’t consider these Williams themes to number among his best in any case. There are three of note that Davis has utilised here. A dramatic fanfare, a T-Rex leitmotiv and the central dinosaur theme. The latter is noble, but plodding; a bit like a brontosaurus who’s devoured one too many forests.

Yet this is a fabulous soundtrack, and all credit must go to Davis. He served a solid apprenticeship as an orchestrator on such notable scores as Titanic and Toy Story, and it shows. The sound is always big and impressive; the arrangements polished and precise.

With plenty of action cues required, Davis ensures his string section are as fit as their fiddles, keeping the rhythms and melodic patterns seamlessly but relentlessly changing to provide both tension and rushes of adrenalin.

With a Williams foundation it is no surprise that strings and brass are at the heart of the score; but Davis’ individual character is most evident with moments of atmospheric suspense. Particularly the indefinable, susurrating sounds of jungle evoked by such cues as Tree People and Bone Man Ben. Which I guess also answers the question of anyone curious as to whether Davis has again served his penchant for quirky cue titles.

The soundtrack rounds out with the Randy Newman’s old, gruff fossil of a voice. Newman is one of the most brilliant musicians on the planet, and while he’s no great singer his characteristic voice can be great value in the right place. But Big Hat, No Cattle is nothing but toothless country blues; and a weak conclusion to an otherwise great album.

Above all, having been given the raw material, Davis has demonstrated a sure sense of when to clone, when to create and when to roar with energy. With the attention granted to a blockbuster soundtrack this is good enough to rampage up the charts, and there’s no reason it should die out in a hurry.
Brad Green

Published September 20, 2001

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Track 6 - Tree People
Track 12 - Bone Man Ben

TITLE: Jurassic Park III

ID: 44001 43252






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