Home > Reviews > JURASSIC WORLD – Michael Giacchino

JURASSIC WORLD – Michael Giacchino

jurassicworldOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

In 1998 a 29-year-old producer and aspiring composer for Disney Interactive was hired to write the score for The Lost World: Jurassic Park, a video game spin off from the recently-released Jurassic Park sequel that had hit cinema screens the year before. The game was one of the first PlayStation console titles to feature an original live orchestral score, and the title was so successful that it led to the composer being given further video game assignments, most notably in the Medal of Honor series, and eventually prestigious TV and film scoring jobs. That composer was Michael Giacchino – the first composer to successfully blur the lines between scoring video games and theatrical movies – and, with the release of Jurassic World, his almost 20-year career has come full circle. The film is intended to be a direct sequel to the original Jurassic Park – ignoring entirely the events of The Lost World and Jurassic Park III – and is set 20 years later in the now fully-functioning, open and successful theme park that John Hammond envisaged, albeit with the events of the original film having been covered up and buried by Ingen’s PR department. Bryce Dallas Howard plays Claire Dearing, the park’s operations manager, who is visited by her two nephews Zach and Gray for a vacation. Unfortunately Claire is preoccupied with recruiting corporate sponsors for their new attraction, a genetically-modified dinosaur called Indominus Rex, and so essentially leaves the kids to their own devices in the park. Things change when Indominus apparently escapes from his paddock, and Claire calls on the park’s chief animal trainer, Owen Grady (Chris Pratt), to recapture the beast before it starts eating the tourists…

Michael Giacchino is making a habit of taking over franchises previously scored by some of the most famous names in film music history. He stepped into Jerry Goldsmith and James Horner’s shoes on Star Trek, followed Goldsmith again on his Planet of the Apes, and basically emulated every John Williams military score on the Medal of Honor series. Now, with Jurassic World, he is paying homage to Williams again, taking inspiration from what is one of the most famous and popular themes in the great composer’s canon. Naturally, comparisons between Giacchino and Williams are inevitable at this juncture; Giacchino has been touted as ‘the next John Williams’ for a large part of his career, and to his credit he has never shied away from the tag or found it to be overwhelming. This is definitely the case with Jurassic World, which pays appropriate service to Williams on several occasions, but also takes pains to establish its own musical identity. Thankfully, Giacchino is a composer with enough talent to pull off this balancing act – he is respectful enough of Williams’s themes to give the franchise musical continuity, but makes his own music exciting and interesting enough in its own right to be wholly successful on its own terms.

The moody, brooding opening in “Bury the Hatchlings” lovingly mirrors Williams’s moody, brooding opening to Jurassic Park (“Incident at Isla Nublar”), and introduces recurring four-note motif for Indominus Rex, while “The Family That Strays Together” introduces the pretty Family theme for strings, harp and glockenspiel. Giacchino gives Williams’s theme its moment in the sun in the third cue, “Welcome to Jurassic World,” a splendid, full-throated rendition of the entire original Jurassic Park theme that showcases the melody, and raises hairs on the backs of the necks of anyone who sat in a darkened theater in 1993 and gazed at the screen in wonderment. Giacchino then presents his own thematic identity for the film in the glorious “As the Jurassic World Turns,” a series of heroic, flashy brass fanfares accompanied by gorgeously textured orchestrations – flute trills, a fascinating echo-like effect in the trumpets, interesting percussion rhythms that are often doubled by the clarinets, majestic chorus – and which concludes with a fabulous rendition of the Jurassic Park Island Fanfare motif that everyone will recognize.

Giacchino’s action music, of which there is a lot, is fast and frenetic, giving the orchestra a thorough work out throughout. Much of the action is built around repeated blocks of rhythmic ideas augmented by brilliant, expressive touches in the orchestration, and special emphasis should be placed on cues like “Clearly His First Rodeo,” the thunderous “Indominus Wrecks,” the sprightly “Fits and Jumpstarts,” the chaotic “The Dimorphodon Shuffle,” the breathless “Love in the Time of Pterosauria,” and the relentless “Costa Rican Standoff”.

While the action is often reminiscent of the similarly percussive style he brought to scores like Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and even Star Trek, there’s no denying its effectiveness, and Giacchino’s use of the orchestra, bringing in each section for a cameo to support the main brass-heavy thrust, is exemplary. I especially liked the nervous cowbells and vicious stabbing pianos in the second half of “Indominus,” the action arrangement of the family theme in “Jumpstarts,” the scattershot woodwind trills that play over a sinister Jaws-esque string figure at the beginning of “Dimorphodon,” and the unusual call and response sequence for harp and trumpet half way through “Pterosauria”.

Variations on the Family theme from the second cue appear in the playful second half of “Clearly His First Rodeo,” and later in the warmly nostalgic and buoyant “Gyrosphere of Influence”. These are augmented by the vaguely comical theme for Chris Pratt’s character, which is introduced in “Owen You Nothing” for woodwinds and pizzicato strings, but which receives a much more punchy performance for brasses at the 3:20 mark of “Pavane for a Dead Apatosaurus”. The rest of that cue is actually really lovely, and recalls the pretty and moving lullabies Williams wrote all those years ago in cues like “My Friend the Brachiosaurus” and “Remembering Petticoat Lane” by showcasing a tender piano version of the main theme.

Best of all, however, is the astonishing “Chasing the Dragons,” which accompanies the now-famous sequence of Chris Pratt thrashing through the jungle on a quad bike, accompanied by his four ‘trained’ velociraptors. In this cue, Giacchino presents a heroic, determined variation on Owen’s theme and offsets it with a thrusting figure for assorted percussion – bongos galore! – echoing horns, and swirling, swooping string writing that descends into darkness with a conclusive statement of the four-note Indominus motif. It’s also wonderful to hear the extended cameo of his original Lost World video game theme in the subsequent “Raptor Your Heart Out,” beginning at 1:39, as well as the brief allusion to Williams’s Lost World theme at 1:52 in the rousing, imperious “Our Rex Is Bigger Than Yours,” a marvelous cue with a chanting and cooing chorus and an aggressive attitude.

The final three cues – “Growl and Make Up,” “Nine to Survival Job,” and “The Park is Closed” – give the score an appropriate coda, with a more solemn version of the main Jurassic World theme, a relief-laden version of the Family theme, and a warm arrangement of Williams’s Jurassic Park theme, which leads into the majestic 13-minute “Jurassic World Suite,” which revisits all the score’s main thematic ideas with scope and grandeur. Three subsequent cues of theme park source music – “The Hammond Lab Overture,” “The Brockway Monorail,” and “Sunrise O’er Jurassic World” – conclude the album. It’s worth noting that the last of these three was written by Michael Giacchino’s 17-year-old son Mick Giacchino, a budding and clearly talented composer in his own right.

As I mentioned earlier in this review, its inevitable that this score will be compared to John Williams’s iconic score for the original Jurassic Park, and just as inevitably the score will suffer in that comparison. You would be hard pressed to think of any score that could come close to, let alone surpass, Williams’s 1993 masterpiece, and I would recommend listeners just move past any mental block they might have regarding it. Jurassic World is not as good a score as Jurassic Park, and I dare say Michael Giacchino himself would agree with me, but this score does have a great deal going for it, not least of which is the majestic new theme, and the significant amount of pounding, complicated, jungle-flecked action material. Had Giacchino only written Jupiter Ascending and Tomorrowland in 2015 he would have been having a tremendous year by anyone’s standards already, but with the addition of Jurassic World to the slate, he’s cementing his position as the most impressive composer of the year to date.

Buy the Jurassic World soundtrack from the Movie Music UK Store

Track Listing:

  • Bury the Hatchling (1:56)
  • The Family That Strays Together (1:00)
  • Welcome to Jurassic World (2:08)
  • As the Jurassic World Turns (5:31)
  • Clearly His First Rodeo (3:28)
  • Owen You Nothing (1:19)
  • Indominus Wrecks (6:11)
  • Gyrosphere of Influence (3:14)
  • Pavane for a Dead Apatosaurus (4:44)
  • Fits and Jumpstarts (1:31)
  • The Dimorphodon Shuffle (2:13)
  • Love in the Time of Pterosauria (4:31)
  • Chasing the Dragons (2:54)
  • Raptor Your Heart Out (3:50)
  • Costa Rican Standoff (4:37)
  • Our Rex Is Bigger Than Yours (2:41)
  • Growl and Make Up (1:16)
  • Nine-to-Survival Job (2:33)
  • The Park Is Closed (1:38)
  • Jurassic World Suite (12:53)
  • It’s a Small Jurassic World (1:43)
  • The Hammond Lab Overture (1:07)
  • The Brockway Monorail (1:46)
  • Sunrise O’er Jurassic World (written by Mick Giacchino) (2:06)

Running Time: 76 minutes 50 seconds

Backlot Music 605 (2015)

Music composed by Michael Giacchino. Conducted by Tim Simonec. Orchestrations by Tim Simonec, Brad Dechter, Peter Boyer, Mark Gasbarro, Norman Ludwin, Cameron Patrick, Marshall Bowen, Jeff Kryka, Chad Seiter and Chris Tilton. Recorded and mixed by Joel Iwataki. Edited by Paul Apelgren and Alek Levy. Album produced by Michael Giacchino.

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