Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018)
Jurassic Park was the first soundtrack I ever owned. Thinking back to the release of that film 25 years ago, it was practically a classic before it even came out. Not only did Steven Spielberg deliver one of the best genre films of his career, John Williams did the same with his immensely popular, thematic, memorable, and triumphant score. Based on the book by Michael Crichton, Jurassic Park was a dinosaur movie, but was more about man’s manipulation of nature and technology, a common theme in Crichton’s writings that Hollywood continues to explore today with the HBO remake of Crichton's Westworld.
The renewal of the Jurassic Park franchise in 2015 with Jurassic World was generally well received and while certain critics wondered if it was really needed, audiences showed enough time had elapsed and we were ready for more dino mayhem. Not only did I find Jurassic World a solid entry into the franchise with enough new ideas and throwbacks to the old parks to keep it interesting, I also thought it followed Crichton’s original concept. If 20 years had elapsed since the first park, people would have tried to open it again as they pushed to make bigger and better dinosaurs through genetic tampering. Jurassic World felt to me like a natural progression of the series and Crichton's vision. Also adding a careful mix of new and nostalgic material was composer Michael Giacchino who had the challenging job of bringing John Williams’ themes to life again while also making it his own. He accomplished this with the needed call outs to the old themes for classic moments like the helicopter landing on the island and the T-Rex roaring with the park in the background. The new main theme, for the Jurassic World theme park, brought quite a new feel to the franchise soundscape, and is a complex thematic conglomerate with components that Giacchino used throughout the score.
Three years later, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom now takes the franchise in a new direction to a much greater degree than did original sequel, The Lost World. Not only does the film literally blow up the island, it also tackles a new Crichton-esque question of what businessmen would do if dinosaurs did suddenly exist again. Like The Lost World, Giacchino had the challenge of writing a sequel score with the main component behind his previous Jurassic World themes – the park – no longer in operation, or in the case of the new film, even in existence. Also like that first sequel, Fallen Kingdom deals with military and hunters trying to capture and control the dinosaurs. The parallels between the first and second films for both ‘Parks’ and ‘World’ are also similar thematically in the score. The big, melodic, heroic themes for the park are replaced by heavier, more bombastic motifs that are woven in with only brief hints at the original themes.
Giacchino wrote four new major themes for Fallen Kingdom. The new main theme can be heard in “This Title Makes Me Jurassic” toward the end carried by the choir as well as with quieter choir in “Nostalgia-saurus”. This main theme is a simple three note motif that is a far cry from the majestic complexity of the Jurassic World theme. This theme takes a back burner as the film goes on and other themes are introduced. There is a march theme for the human military element in the film, which is stated boldly in “March of the Wheatley Cavalcade” and a grander, more bombastic statement in “Jurassic Pillow Talk” (and quickly followed thereafter by the new main theme). The last major new theme is a quiet theme that bridges new territory for these films, which is to the humans’ bond with the dinosaurs. This first appears in the second half of “Operation Blue Blood” as well as a full statement in “The Neo-Jurassic Age” and builds off Owen Grady’s link to his velociraptor, Blue.
One thing I hoped to hear in this score was a deconstruction of the park themes during the island’s eruption. Upon first listen, I was disappointed, but upon repeat listens, it is in fact there. During the bombastic volcanic eruption musical chaos, Giacchino works in little hints to the Jurassic Park and Jurassic World themes. “Go With the Pyroclastic Flow” ends with a drawn out, somber statement of the Jurassic World theme, while “Volcano to Death” has just the briefest statements of the first few notes of the main Jurassic Park theme at the very end, signaling the end of Isla Nublar.
We do also get some full statements of the Jurassic World theme, which I was happy to hear, as it was among my favorite music cues from 2015. A full majestic statement is heard in “Theropod Preservation Society” complete with the underlying string rhythms and is also followed by the slow rising four-note Jurassic Park theme. A slow, ominous statement of the Jurassic World theme is also heard at the end of “March of the Wheatley Cavalcade”. The final two cues, “To Free Or Not To Free” and “Neo-Jurassic Age” both use the World theme, a somber variation in the former that is also followed by the four-note Jurassic Park theme, and the latter cue opens with a slow, solo French horn motif of the World theme, then followed by the human-dino connection theme. The Jurassic Park main theme is also used as a short motif in “Nostalgia-saurus” and the opening of “World’s Worst Bedtime Storyteller”. Also, halfway through "To Free Or Not To Free" I also think I hear one trumpet note from the "Journey to the Island" cue.
Overall, Giacchino turns in a very strong action/thriller score that makes its identity as a Jurassic Park film clear, but if certainly a big change for the franchise. While some cues do sound like John Williams, this is much more a Michael Giacchino score, introducing the choral elements among the large, low brass-driven action sequences that are more like his score for Jupiter Ascending than anything previously written for the Jurassic franchise. The album ends with a score suite that does give us fans our full theme performances as well as some of the new themes, so may be useful to listen to ahead of the rest of the album. This score feels less like a Jurassic Park album than maybe some fans (myself included) had been hoping for, but it has enough to make it work as well as a lot of fun new action scoring that do warrant multiple listens.