Home > Reviews > JURASSIC WORLD: DOMINION – Michael Giacchino

JURASSIC WORLD: DOMINION – Michael Giacchino

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Pitched as the third and final part of the Jurassic World trilogy, and the sixth film overall in the series which began back in 1993 with the original Jurassic Park, Dominion is the film where – finally – the two main casts of this long-lasting dinosaur disaster franchise come together for an exciting, combined adventure. The film is set several years after the end of the last one, Fallen Kingdom, and finds Owen and Claire, former employees of the Jurassic World park, now working to protect the dinosaurs that are living free in the world. They are also the surrogate parents of the clone child Maisie Lockwood – until she is kidnapped by a mysterious group that wants to exploit her unique DNA. Meanwhile, Ellie Sattler reconnects with her former partner, paleontologist Alan Grant – from whom she has been mostly estranged since the events of Jurassic Park – to ask him to help her find the source of a plague of mutant locusts which is devastating crops, and which appears to contain dinosaur DNA. The two groups come together when the two plot strands – Maisie’s kidnappers, and the source of the genetically modified locusts – leads them all to Biosyn, a successful tech company owned by the enigmatic Lewis Dodgson that runs a dinosaur habitat high in the Dolomite mountains, and where scientist Ian Malcolm – another veteran of the original Jurassic Park – now also works.

The film stars Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Sam Neill, DeWanda Wise, Mamoudou Athie, BD Wong, Isabella Sermon, Omar Sy, and Campbell Scott, and is directed by Colin Trevorrow from a screenplay he co-wrote with Emily Carmichael and Derek Connolly. I personally thought it was a terrifically entertaining adventure that combines rip-roaring action sequences, cutting edge special effects, and effective moments of dinosaur suspense and horror, with some excellent nostalgia referencing the original trilogy of films. Several of the set pieces – the parasaurolophus herding sequence, the atrociraptor chase through the streets of Malta, the pyroraptor encounter on the ice lake, and the giganotosaurus attack on the compound – are superb, edge-of-seat thrill rides that I thoroughly enjoyed, while the plot issue regarding genetic engineering and agriculture was unexpectedly prescient. Unfortunately, most critics and audiences disagreed with me, and the film has been roundly panned in the press: one called it “overly long and soullessly engineered,” and another described it as “the equivalent of Colin Trevorrow banging pots and pans for two and a half hours to keep you distracted from the fact that nothing you’re seeing really means anything,” while one simply said: “ho hum”.

The score for Jurassic World: Dominion is again by Michael Giacchino, who scored the first two films in the Jurassic World series. His scores for this franchise have been excellent – exciting and emotional and filled with scope and drama – and this one continues the trend, finishing the series on a real musical high. Thematic musical density has always been one of the series’ strong points, and Dominion is no different. As the score develops, Giacchino brings back several of the themes from the first two films, including the overarching Jurassic World theme, the emotional theme representing the familial bonds between Owen and Claire, the exciting personal theme for Owen, parts of the Fallen Kingdom theme from the second film, and the dinosaur-specific motifs for the trained velociraptor Blue and the fearsome Indominus Rex. Interweaving with these themes are several quotes of themes from John Williams’s original Jurassic Park scores, especially in scenes involving Alan and Ellie, plus several new themes specific to this film, which I’ll cover in greater detail later.

What I like about all this is that it gives the score a sense of its place in the bigger scheme of things. Having now been involved with numerous long-running franchises – several of which are reboots or continuations of earlier series – it’s clearly apparent that Michael Giacchino has always been a composer who respects the musical heritage of his predecessors. His Spider-Man scores reference not only themselves, but earlier efforts by Danny Elfman and James Horner. His Star Trek scores build on the work of Alexander Courage and Jerry Goldsmith. His Star Wars score, Rogue One, had flavors of John Williams, and now his Jurassic World scores fit perfectly into that same sonic world too. This thematic interplay, combined with the loving acknowledgement of the franchise’s heritage, is both respectful and appropriately nostalgic for those who – like me – grew up with these films.

After a brooding and tempestuous opening in “Jurassi-Logos/Dinow This,” the score’s first highlight is the one-two punch of “A Dinosaur in the Ranching Business” and “It’s Like Herding Parasaurolophus”. The former is an energetic action sequence which makes unexpectedly prominent use of electric guitars and bubbling electronics amid the orchestra, while the latter is a terrific action statement of Owen’s theme that underscores a superb chase across a snow-dusted prairie with Chris Pratt on horseback, trying to round up a herd of dinosaur like a modern day cowboy.

Owen’s theme comes back later as part of the fabric of the nervous, percussive “Free-Range Kidnapping,” the overarching Jurassic World theme is prevalent throughout much of the score and is performed with tenderness on gentle pianos and backed by soft strings in “Upsy-Maisie,” while “Clonely You” is a prominent statement of the Family Theme, built around playful woodwinds, for Maisie and her lonely life in the woods of Montana. Later, “The Campfire in Her Soul” has a lovely, tender allusion to John Williams’s main Jurassic Park theme, as does the nostalgically poignant “A Sattler State of Affairs/Alan for Granted/Sattler? I Barely Know Her,” which marks the one of the few times since the end of the very first film that Ellie and Alan share the screen together.

The first new theme in the score appears in “The Wages of Biosyn,” moody woodwinds and soft marimbas eventually give way to darkly-hued strings, which hint at the duplicitous nature of Lewis Dodgson and the unethical scientific practices at the heart of the story. A more adventurous variation on the theme appears in “A-Biosyn’ We Will Go,” a misleadingly cheerful and occasionally heraldic statement for more prominent horns, which accompanies Alan and Ellie as they traverse the Dolomites in a helicopter, heading towards the company’s dinosaur facility. The majestic mountain vistas gave Giacchino the opportunity to try to recapture the same general feel as the first score’s “Journey to the Island,” although there is an undercurrent of deceitfulness here that speaks to their hidden agenda. Associated with this is a motif for the genetically modified locusts, tremulous percussion and a sort of whizzing, buzzing string idea, which is introduced in the shrill “Hay of the Locusts,” and then comes back later embedded in “Cicadian Rhythms,” which is at times jarringly dissonant.

The 20-minute sequence from “This Dodgson Burns Bright/The Maltese Dragons” through to the end of “Da Plane and Da Cycle” underscores the film’s extended Malta sequence, in which Owen and Claire infiltrate an underground dinosaur smuggling ring on the island as a way of finding the kidnapped Maisie. The orchestral music here is often underpinned with regional Maltese flavors including guitars, bouzouki, and Arabic-style percussion, which gives the tension and suspense an exotic flair, and combines nicely with the Mission Impossible-style spy caper stylings of “You’re So Cute When You Smuggle”.

The Malta sequence ends with two knockout action cues: “In Contempt of Delacourt/Dance of the Atrociraptors” and “Da Plane and Da Cycle,” which explode into a series of frenetic percussive rhythms, chugging electric guitar pulses, circular string figures, and moments of rousing orchestral carnage, as Owen speeds through the streets of Valletta on a motorbike, pursued by two rapacious dinosaurs. “Da Plane and Da Cycle” is especially outstanding, one of the most enjoyable action tracks of the year; I love the relentless energy of the piece, the interplay between different elements of the brass section, the unexpectedly playful parts for woodwinds and chimes, and the relieved burst of the main Jurassic World theme at the end as he successfully boards the plane belonging to former air force pilot Kayla Watts, whose services have been acquired to take them to Biosyn.

One of the most interesting developments in the score is the way that Giacchino uses the theme from his second score, Fallen Kingdom, as a sort of personal theme for BD Wong’s character Dr. Henry Wu, the geneticist behind Jurassic Park’s original cloning technology, who has been a shadowy figure pulling the strings behind the curtain throughout the franchise. His character has a redemption arc in Dominion, and to illustrate this Giacchino uses parts of the Fallen Kingdom theme to represent him: the theme appears in the vaguely sinister “You’re Making Me Feel Wu-zy,” arranged for eerie woodwinds and slithery strings, and in the subsequent “The Geneticist’s Gambit,” but really comes to fruition in “Wu-ing for Redemption,” as one of the score’s sweeping emotional highlights.

Beyond this, the last 40 minutes or so of the album is essentially nonstop action and suspense, as various parties have encounters with different dinosaurs in different parts of the sanctuary – Owen and Kayla against a pyroraptor on a frozen lake, Claire hiding from a hungry therizinosaurus out in the forest, Alan and Ellie against a whole load of dimetrodon in the amber mines deep beneath the main Biosyn structure – before they all converge on a storage facility and must again do battle with the most fearsome dinos of all: the tyrannosaurus rex, the indominus, and the terrifying giganotosaurus.

“Land of the Frost,” the frenetic “A Dimetrodon a Dozen,” the unexpectedly synthy “She Shoots, She Scorches,” “Giganotosaurus On Your Life,” and the breathlessly exciting “Ladder and Subtract/What’s Your Major Malcolm Function/Six Degrees of Evacuation” are really outstanding; the orchestral flourishes in these cues are big and bold, the rhythmic patterns are interesting and relentless, and the way Giacchino weaves quotes of so many of the different themes through them is enormously impressive. The statement of the main Jurassic Park theme at the end of “A Dimetrodon a Dozen” is cathartic – Ian Malcolm’s hero moment – and I was especially pleased to hear several of John Williams’s ideas from the first main Jurassic Park score embedded deeply into “Giganotosaurus On Your Life”.

“Gotta Shut Down the Blah Blah Blah” has an upbeat can-do spirit to it that has positive echoes of the Medal of Honor video game scores. “Girls Can Alpha Too” has an interesting variation on Owen’s theme for more understated woodwinds, but becomes grander and more heroic as it develops. “Battle Royale with Reprise/Six Days Seven Denouements” underscores the final battle between the three apex predator dinosaurs in the quadrangle of the Biosyn compound – which the heroes must avoid in order to escape – and sees Giacchino weaving his main Dominion theme, the overall Jurassic World theme, and Williams’s Jurassic Park theme, into a thrilling and bombastic set piece that has some echoes of the raptor attack music from The Lost World. The whole thing revels in its menacing intensity, but ends with a calming sense of relief and redemption.

“A-O-Kayla” is one of the score’s few moments to feature a choir, and has some gentle, evocative callbacks to the music from Lost, as well as the more intimate parts of scores like Rogue One and War for the Planet of the Apes. “All the Jurassic World’s a Rage” is the coda of both film and score, a final plea for humans and dinosaurs to co-exist peacefully, which contains a haunting solo cello version of the Jurassic World theme, and ends with a massive sweep of strings, tribal drums, and heraldic horns. “Larry Curly and MOE” and “Suite, Suite Dino Revenge” combine to form the film’s 11-minute finale and end credits sequence, and offer a superb run-through of everything the score has to offer, including major statements of the Jurassic World theme, several secondary themes from Jurassic Park, the Biosyn theme, and the family theme, before concluding with a touching final statement of the main Jurassic park theme on a harp.

The score for Jurassic World: Dominion is long, more than an hour and 40 minutes, but it’s one of those rare long scores that never runs out of steam or feels padded with filler. The narrative development of the score is such that no moments ever feel wasted or superfluous; the progression of the themes in a dramatic sense is excellent, especially the way the Biosyn theme gradually leaves it’s ‘ooh-aah’ initial feeling as the protagonists fly over the mountains, and becomes more sinister as Dodgson’s plans are revealed; conversely, the way the Fallen Kingdom theme gradually becomes redemptive for Dr Wu feels like vindication for the man whose genetic experiments caused all this mayhem in the first place, but who eventually turns to to be the man who will save the world. The way Giacchino intersperses all this character development with outstanding action sequences – especially “It’s Like Herding Parasaurolophus,” “Da Plane and Da Cycle,” “Gotta Shut Down the Blah Blah Blah,” and “Battle Royale With Reprise/Six Days Seven Denouements” – also means that the album moves along at a fast clip, with a standout never too far away.

I know there are people who don’t like Michael Giacchino’s music, who find his action writing pedestrian and repetitive, who don’t like the way he structures his themes, and who find his ‘sweeping moments’ far too similar to each other across multiple films, saying it all stems from the music from the TV series Lost. I am not one of those people. At a time when bold, energetic, thematic orchestral film scores are most certainly the exception rather than the rule, the fact that Giacchino keeps writing them makes me look forward to each new film he works on – and this is just the second of the four he is scheduled to write in 2022, having already given us The Batman, and with Lightyear and Thor: Love and Thunder yet to come. If Jurassic World: Dominion truly is the last film in the Jurassic franchise which started all the way back almost thirty years ago in 1993 with Steven Spielberg and John Williams, then it has gone out on a musical high. This series has inspired six outstanding scores, and the original is an all-time classic, but Giacchino’s personal trilogy is worthy of a great deal of praise too.

Buy the Jurassic World: Dominion soundtrack from the Movie Music UK Store

Track Listing:

  • Jurassi-Logos/Dinow This (2:31)
  • A Dinosaur in the Ranching Business (3:08)
  • It’s Like Herding Parasaurolophus (2:46)
  • Upsy-Maisie (1:42)
  • Clonely You/The Hunters Become the Hunted (2:37)
  • The Campfire in Her Soul (1:45)
  • Hay of the Locusts (1:11)
  • A Sattler State of Affairs/Alan for Granted/Sattler? I Barely Know Her (2:42)
  • The Wages of Biosyn (3:49)
  • Free-Range Kidnapping (4:32)
  • A-Biosyn’ We Will Go (3:53)
  • This Dodgson Burns Bright/The Maltese Dragons (4:55)
  • You’re So Cute When You Smuggle (4:27)
  • In Contempt of Delacourt/Dance of the Atrociraptors (5:24)
  • Da Plane and Da Cycle (2:35)
  • You’re Making Me Feel Wu-zy (4:09)
  • The Geneticist’s Gambit/Cicadian Rhythms (6:14)
  • Therizinosaurus Will Be Blood/Land of the Frost (4:02)
  • A Dimetrodon a Dozen (4:14)
  • She Shoots, She Scorches (3:12)
  • Giganotosaurus On Your Life (1:52)
  • Ladder and Subtract/What’s Your Major Malcolm Function/Six Degrees of Evacuation (3:49)
  • Ramsay’s the Second No More (2:48)
  • Gotta Shut Down the Blah Blah Blah (1:39)
  • Girls Can Alpha Too (1:26)
  • Saliva and Kicking (1:50)
  • Wu-ing for Redemption (3:35)
  • Battle Royale With Reprise/Six Days Seven Denouements (5:09)
  • A-O-Kayla (1:38)
  • All the Jurassic World’s a Rage (2:43)
  • Larry Curly and MOE (2:06)
  • Suite, Suite Dino Revenge (8:59)

Running Time: 107 minutes 21 seconds

Backlot Music (2022)

Music composed by Michael Giacchino. Conducted by Alfonso Casado, Cliff Masterson and Ludwig Wicki. Orchestrations by Jeff Kryka, Jennifer Dirkes, Mick Giacchino and Curtis Green. Original Jurassic Park themes music by John Williams. Recorded and mixed by Peter Cobbin and Kirstie Whalley. Edited by Paul Apelgren, Stephen M. Davis and Joe E. Rand. Album produced by Michael Giacchino.

  1. Tim
    June 18, 2022 at 5:33 am

    Thumbs up to what you said about Giacchino. He’s not everybody’s cup of tea; that’s fine, tastes differ. But like you said, he’s one of the few writing thematic orchestral music in modern big budget films!

    (i haven’t heard this yet, but I LOVE his Batman show from earlier this year!)

  2. Tibor
    July 19, 2022 at 1:03 pm

    You cannot unnotice the implementation of James Horner’s music in this one. I was expecting to hear it by others after Horner’s tragical incident and now it is here. The tunes, tune-alterations and orchestration solutions are referring to Horner in the track “A-Biosyn’ We Will Go” clearly and all other tracks where this theme appears. I was expecting Zimmer to industrialize Horner and that would have disgusted me but here, in this way of using his thematic arrangements is a nice and a surprisingly subtle and also beautiful kind of an art.

  3. Saw D
    July 24, 2022 at 1:55 pm

    The soundtrack obviously sounds very generic and old. There is absolutely nothing catchy about it. In fact it is a big sour patch on the whole movie. Meaninglessly being played almost the entire time, it sounds very stale. Everytime the soundtrack stopped playing, it actually felt better. This is 2022 and the soundtrack makes it sound like an old 90s, below average feature. Zero imagination, zero innovation, nothing interesting about it. Sound engineering has evolved so much over last three decades but this sounds like something stuck in time and irritably boring. Very sad and disappointing.

    • July 24, 2022 at 2:26 pm

      I entirely disagree with every single thing you said. I *wish* it sounded like the 1990s!

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