JURASSIC PARK III: SOUNDTRACK
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
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
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
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.
Published September 20, 2001
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Track 6 - Tree People
Track 12 - Bone Man Ben
TITLE: Jurassic Park III
ID: 44001 43252
COMPOSER/PRODUCER: Don Davis
ORIGINAL THEMES: John Williams
ADDITIONAL ARTIST: Randy Newman
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