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Jurassic Park III (Soundtrack) by Don Davis

Three Times the Harm
Review by Christopher Coleman


Jurassic Park III (Soundtrack) by Don Davis

Jurassic Park III

Jurassic Park III (Soundtrack) by Don Davis





Originality 7
Music Selection 7
Composition 8
CD Length 8
Track Order 7
Performance 7
Final Score 7/10


Real Audio Clips


Track 1 - Isla Sorna Sailing Situation

Track 11 - Nash Calling



Don Davis


Quick Quotes

"The complexity of Davis' score is to par with that of Williams. All three films really tax the abilities of the string section, especially during the frightening chase scenes. The raptor attacks are scored very well, as Davis' intuition for writing darker, more mystical music shows through. On the other hand, the music for Jurassic Park 3 lacks the dynamic and exciting edge that Williams was able to inject into his scores." ***

Christian Clemmensen - Filmtracks Reviews Jurassic Park 3


Composed and Conducted by Don Davis
Orchestration by Don Davis
Produced by Don Davis
Concertmaster: Clayton Haslop
Released by Decca Records July 2001

Some of composer John Williams most recognizable film music of the 1990's was delivered for the Steven Spielberg phenom-film, Jurassic Park in 1993.  Not quite living up to the majesty and grandeur of the first film, John Williams returned to score the sequel, The Lost World.  Just when it was thought that the New Jurassic Era had come to a close, the announcement of the third film was made and that the directorial reigns would be handed over to Joe Johnston.  Eventually, at his own recommendation, John Williams would hand the musical reigns over to composer Don Davis.  With The Lost World falling far short of its predecessor regarding both the film and its score, the departure of both the original creative lead, Spielberg, and his long time collaborator, Williams, many were left wondering what would be in store for Jurassic Park III.

Composer Don Davis grabbed his share of the spotlight with his work for the hit film, The Matrix.  While preparing to score the two sequels of that series, he suddenly found himself fully occupied with continuing the musical tradition of this other blockbuster franchise.  Jurassic Park III would naturally present a quandary for any composer other than John Williams.  Once it was clear the Williams would not be doing the score for the third episode, but that his themes would be still be employed, the challenge would fall to the score's composer to balance the established with new thematic material.

Jurassic Park III is, at the very least, an interesting listening experience.  Don Davis utilizes at least four of John Williams' familiar themes and motifs.   The score is clearly Williamsesque and for that Davis is to be applauded.  Reproducing Williams' themes is one thing.  Reproducing his style is another.  It is clear that Davis listened to and studied not only Williams' scores for the previous two films but Williams' compositional style of the last few years.  Be that as it may, this Jurassic Park score is still marked by Davis' own musical signature.

Right from the onset of the CD, Davis brings the listener into the musical world that John Williams created back in 1993.  A foreboding, ominous, and mysterious tone is set with the first few measures.  A few seconds into track 1, Isla Sorna Sailing Situation, we hear the four-note Jurassic Park theme and then a few moments later we are given our first taste of the familiar Jurassic Park fanfare.   For Jurassic Park III, the well-known fanfare has been employed by Davis to, more often than not, represent Sam Neil's character, Dr. Grant.  Davis is careful to employ the motifs and themes just often enough, without overkill, to keep the listener in tune with the fact that this is the continuing saga of Jurassic Park.  Among some of the other more obvious references include:  the militaristic and march elements found in the first Jurassic Park, and use of choral elements. 

Don Davis carves his name into this score through the extensive action/suspense cues.  Proportionally speaking, the Jurassic Park III soundtrack contains more action music than its predecessors.  This is due to it is measurably shorter length.  Another cause for this is that the underlying premise has been fully established by the first two films and now the potential dangers can be better exploited within a 2 hour runtime of the film.   A good portion of the 54 minute soundtrack is packed with complex, heart-pounding, action music or the suspenseful sort which generally proceeds an explosion of high-octane action score.  It is within these moments that the listener will subtly hear Davis' own style step forward.  Both strings and brass accents and crescendos will signal the attentive listener to the similarities with Don Davis' milestone score to The Matrix.

With the introduction of key new characters, Davis develops a couple of new motifs.   The most substantial being the family-motif first introduced in Tree People (6).  The rather soft and loving motif is given a much bolder arrangement and performance in Nash Calling (11).  Although it all but disappears between tracks 6 and 11, it subtly creeps into several tracks following track 11 and makes one last bold appearance in The Hat Returns/ End Credits (15).

A surprising close to the soundtrack is Randy Newman's Big Hat, No Cattle - a vocal tune from his release, Bad Love.  The song was not composed for the film and does not appear in the end credits as one might anticipate.  Instead it functions as source music in one specific scene within the film.  It's inclusion at the very end of the soundtrack is only marginally distracting, despite a huge stylistic departure from all of the preceding orchestral music. 

For most that see this film, they will be completely unaware that the score has been written by someone other than the "fella that did the first Jurassic Park music."  For the film music fan, Jurassic Park III provides a fresh presentation of the main themes, continues the musical tradition already established, and simultaneously keeps from becoming a stale rehash.  If one expects a precise mimic of the first or second film's scores, they will be disappointed.  Davis modifies some of the main themes by a few notes and by tempo.  Jurassic Park III is not a substitute for John Williams' original Jurassic Park score and probably shouldn't be held up against the original's light.  Still, it reflects a character more in line with the first score than The Lost World did.  In the end, composer Don Davis has adequately met the challenge presented by a mammoth project such as this.


Track Listing and Ratings


Title Time


1 Isla Sorna Sailing Situation 4:23  ****
2 The Dinosaur Fly-By 2:15  ***
3 Cooper's Last Stand 2:01  ****
4 The Raptor Room 2:35  ****
5 Raptor Repartee 3:06  ***
6 Tree People 2:04  ****
7 Pteranodon Habitat 3:04  ***
8 Tiny Pecking Pterananodons 3:38  ***
9 Billy Oblivion 2:51  ***
10 Brachiosaurus on the Bank 2:07  ***
11 Nash Calling 3:38  ****
12 Bone Man Ben 7:20  ***
13 Frenzy Fuselage 4:01  ***
14 Clash of Extinction 1:42  ****
15 The Hat Returns/ End Credits 5:10  ***
16 Big Hat, No Cattle
(Randy Newman)
4:26  **

Total Running Time


Jurassic Park III (Soundtrack) by Don Davis

*The Experience-O-Meter displays the track to track listening experience of this soundtrack based on the 5-Star rating given to each track.  It provides a visual depiction of the ebbs and flows of the CD's presentation of the soundtrack.

Referenced Reviews
The Matrix

Read the Interview with Composer Don Davis!




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