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Comments about the soundtrack for Jurassic Park III (Don Davis)
An insulting, and often timid, score.

Mike
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(syr-24-169-83-20.twcny.rr.com)


  Responses to this Comment:
Stefan
Jonathan Broxton
Mark
An insulting, and often timid, score.   Friday, July 20, 2001 (6:11 p.m.) 

This score amounts to what could only be considered musical felony. Rather than flex his own musical abilities, Don Davis is content to brutalize John Williams's music for fear of letting the audience forget that this is in fact (and unfortunately) a film born of the Jurassic Park legacy. It comes across as the action of a timid composer who is afraid to do his own thing, and feels it necessary to pander the audience with music they are already familiar with.

Throughout the film, the original themes are fully misused. Anybody who has seen JP3 can surely recall having the theme shoved firmly down their gullets, generally at the most inopportune times. Davis uses these themes without regard for the events emerging on screen, and in essence mocks them. They no longer occur during pivotal scenes.... they occur all the time, distractingly, and lessening the impact.

In the score from The Lost World, for instance, Williams only reprised the themes a minimum number of times... usually when the images on screen directly conjured memories of the original park. The best example was when Greenpeace guy (like these characters deserved names...) finds the Jurassic Park mural on the wall, we hear the faint trumpet of the old theme, reminding us simultaneously of the park's grandeur and failure... very clever, and very fitting.

In part three, we never get a break. And it's indicative of the failings of the movie as a whole. Rather than paint a true sequel, cinematically or musically, it offers an ersatz experience, constantly necessetating forced reminders (recurring cast members, recurring themes...) that this pitiful disaster is related in any way to the original classic. Steer clear.

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Stefan
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  In Response to:
Mike

  Responses to this Comment:
Derrick
Re: An insulting, and often timid, score.   Saturday, July 21, 2001 (2:00 p.m.) 

I couldn't agree more. I am having trouble thinking of how on earth Davis mentally approached this project. I remember speaking to a friend after watching this movie and discussing the sections of the film in which one of the themes WASN'T used. It was a short discussion.

I was almost a fan of Davis after his score to The Matrix. It was absolutely perfect for the film: cool, classy, and action-packed. However, after hearing JP3, I'm afraid I'll have to wait on Davis.

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Derrick
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Stefan
Re: An insulting, and often timid, score.   Friday, November 16, 2001 (7:40 a.m.) 

Well I think that the score was one of the best I have ever heard. My favorite track is 'Frenzy Fuselage', especially near the end of the track... I love it! To me, I think it ties with the JP score... they each have their own highs and lows. The Lost World score was... well... to boring if you ask me. But that's another subject...

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Jonathan Broxton
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  In Response to:
Mike

  Responses to this Comment:
Mike
Re: An insulting, and often timid, score.   Thursday, July 26, 2001 (8:18 a.m.) 

> This score amounts to what could only be considered musical felony. Rather
> than flex his own musical abilities, Don Davis is content to brutalize
> John Williams's music for fear of letting the audience forget that this is
> in fact (and unfortunately) a film born of the Jurassic Park legacy. It
> comes across as the action of a timid composer who is afraid to do his own
> thing, and feels it necessary to pander the audience with music they are
> already familiar with.

You mean this as an alternative to, say, a composer who was working as part of a creative team and who was ASKED SPECIFICALLY by the director to make use of John Williams's original themes in his score?

I suppose you don't like the idea of David Arnold re-using John Barry's 007 theme in his Bond films either...

Jonathan

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Mike
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Jonathan Broxton

  Responses to this Comment:
Danny French
Re: An insulting, and often timid, score.   Thursday, July 26, 2001 (9:48 a.m.) 

You've done a brilliant job of missing the point. I take no issue with Davis using the themes. Of course he was asked to do so -- what kind of Jurassic Park movie wouldn't have the theme?

Davis's problem is that he waves the theme around in panic -- afraid that we'll all forget what we're watching. It's everywhere, unrelenting and terribly misused. Rather than use it to punctuate important scenes, he clocks us over the head with it, over and over again. I don't think we heard the theme that often even in the first movie.

When Williams composed the Lost World, he recognized that, being a different movie, it should have its own theme. This didn't stop the original from resurfacing here and there, but ONLY when needed. Davis has prevented the third score from developing its own identity (a problem shared by the movie itself), and reasserts the fact that the third installment is nothing more than a cash-in (even more so than the second one). Maybe he was acting on order from the director, but when a director botches a movie this badly, perhaps the composer should back out of the game before his music goes down with the ship.

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Danny French
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Mike

  Responses to this Comment:
Ramblinmad
Re: An insulting, and often timid, score.   Sunday, August 5, 2001 (6:37 p.m.) 

Hmmm... I'm afraid I have to disagree with most of this.

I won't be popular for saying so, but I found this probably the best score for quite a long time. Contrary to Mike's comments, I found it VERY individual, and a natural organic development of Williams' original themes. Davis managed to do a Williamsesque score, incorporating his very own trademark scoring technique throughout. It takes a lot of balls to do that, and do it so well.

It was quite refreshing to hear the original themes in this style. Sure enough, they came up when you didn't expect them - but this simply reinforced the reliability and robustness of the themes themselves - their ability to adapt and adjust to a situation different to that for which they were originally composed.

With regard to the lack of ethnic instruments and "exotic percussion", I can do nothing but applaud Davis for realising that there is no need to use stupid frivolous noises to "enhance" a score. These additions often blur the orchestral sound and indicate to me that a composer is incapable of invoking the appropriate mood with the standard instruments of the orchestra.

The themes were most definitely at a higher tempo as in the Williams score. That is Davis' perogative as composer, orchestrator, and conductor of the score. I would not say they were "too fast" - the speed increase gives them an entirely different persona and a fascinating insight into their depth and versatility.

Back when it was announced that Davis would score the film, many people were worried about what he would produce. I have always said that I thought Davis would come through in the end for us all, and I believe he has.

Of course, everybody is more than entitled to their opinion! :-)

By the way, I'm a composer myself, so don't give me any of that "What do you know?" nonsense.

:-)

Cheers all,

Danny French


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Ramblinmad
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Danny French
Re: An insulting, and often timid, score.   Saturday, November 22, 2003 (4:48 p.m.) 

Yes Danny

I totally agree with everything you have said (and might say , may I say). What do you think of his little known score for the film "Snood embarks onto a plastic Sombrero"?.Masterful in its simplicicity I thought. Very understated in the first movement, then, straight on to the second. Would you believe it?!. The centre peice I feel could do with a percussive element, maybe some maraccas or a vibraslap. The "Outtro" really lets you know the end is coming as it builds up to a grand crescendo and bursts accross the listener like a rat up a drainpipe and then stops just before it finishes. Then, an ominous silence, as the cinema goes dark and you realise you've been locked in. It happened to me once on a train, of course there was no music playing! But, being a sensitive soul I'm sure you'll understand that it's all in the mind and that humming to yourself whilst spinning round on one leg is good enough on a bad day.

Regurds

Ramblinmad

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Mark
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  In Response to:
Mike
Re: An insulting, and often timid, score.   Saturday, January 11, 2003 (2:59 p.m.) 

I don't know about this. I certainly agree with you that Davis overuses William's themes in this score. I don't know whether this was out of fear of being insulted from lack of using the 'musical heritage' of the previous Jurassic Park films or if he just wasn't able to create a theme of his own that could carry the film on its own accord. But I don't feel as strongly upset about this as you do. The themes are overused in inappropriate places as you say, but on album that isn't as much an issue, and therefore that particular gripe could only be seen as a problem while watching the movie, and as it turns out it isn't that much of an issue even watching the film (although it does sort of lessen the effect of the theme). Personally I think that the lack of any Matrix-style themes by Davis (which would obviously be grossly inappropriate for this film) is an asset and because of this, this score could be seen as a "More Music From Jurassic Park" CD. While it carries very little musical identity that sets it apart from the other two films, it is still nevertheless a strong orchestral effort.

I think that Davis succeeded in creating a very Williamesque score, and probably succeeded even better than many film score fans would have preferred. And as far as that goes, aside from the overuse of the main theme, this score works pretty well in the film as a virtual thematic clone of the first film. The only reason you can tell that this film is Jurassic Park III as opposed to Jurassic Park is the idiotic storyline and the bad acting. So as far as the lack of originality goes and the on-album listening experience, this is the weakest of the three film scores, but nevertheless is a strong 3-star effort. And yet, one can't help but wonder if this score would have turned out better without the mis/over-use of Williams' themes. Not being an expert on Don Davis, I really don't know what he would have come up with without Williams' mentoring in the orchestrations and thematic uses for this film. Thus, we had better be happy with what turned out, for it could have been a hell of a lot worse.

In film: ***1/2
On album: ***

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