Spinema – Issue 2: MONDO’S LP Release Of JURASSIC WORLD Outdoes The Film

This album was released by MONDO in October of 2015.

I… passionately disliked Jurassic World. A small handful of creative ideas couldn’t compensate for dull action, a lack of imagination, and some weirdly out-of-date characterization. I would have passed up the opportunity to make the film’s score my second official entry for this column, had it not been for the distinguished involvement of Michael Giacchino. You may not know his name, yet, but he is well on his way to following in the iconic footsteps of someone like John Williams. His bold and arresting music for Star Trek (2009), The Incredibles, and Up, have proven he’s not only following the world’s best-known composer of the cinema, but he is also prepared to fill the man’s shoes, as he did last year for director Colin Trevorrow’s lackluster blockbuster. With Jurassic World, Giacchino created music so wonderful, he has almost convinced me to see it again, just to see how it plays for the film. I was too busy falling asleep to notice the first time.

(The following Blah Blah Blah has been written under the assumption that you, the reader, have already seen the crummy picture and will be able to follow any vague references to its plot without the aid of a synopsis.)

Giacchino’s musical storytelling opens with, perhaps, a nod to Bernard Hermann’s work on Mysterious Island. The lonely French horn theme asks a question in an unfinished phrase, and although it bares a striking similarity to the music of that Ray Harryhausen classic, it almost certainly has more to do with Giacchino’s toying with this franchise’s familiar compositions. If you play the opening few notes of, Bury The Hatchling and Welcome To Jurassic World back-to-back, you will notice the former plays like a dark melodic antonym to the curious sweetness of the original Jurassic Park Theme. This is a new park, and although we have been here before, the mystery of what awaits us should be even more terrifying than the original. Unfortunately, it seems only this gifted composer was up to the challenge of bringing the fright, and not the film’s director.

Before we reach those pulse-pounding pieces, however, he seems to back away from the message sent by the earliest moments in the score, and again, he contrasts Williams’ melodies. After a brief revisit to the original 1993 film’s theme, we are given a new sweeping tune in its vein. His predecessor’s number captured the boldness of John Hammond’s unattainable dream, with the wild flourishes of instruments tittering in the upper registers, and in the vocal arrangements, a suggestion of the wonder of cheating the divine. With Giacchinno’s composition, As The Jurassic World Turns (the man obviously has a thing for wordplay), we are treated to a new dream, and a new park. The tone is gentler, as though Hammond’s dream has finally been tamed. That comfort doesn’t last long, however. As soon as the carnivores show up, the sweetness of these musical concepts are torn away by frenetic, percussive elements.

This brilliant composer’s score takes us through a thrilling variety of moods, as should be required of any adventure film’s music. At times, it’s hard to remember the glory he sang us at the inauguration of a fully functional park when the danger begins to aurally pummel us. Giacchino generates more scare in his score than any visuals rendered by Trevorrow. He bombards us with pounding tympanis and brass when the Indominus Rex is on the charge, and sends us fleeing with the flailing urgency of scattering woodwind voices. In those moments, he sounds the most like the man he replaced on this franchise (it should also be noted Don Davis was the first to take over for Williams in Jurassic Park III… no comment).

It’s nice to hear those moments solidarity between the two musicians, because their voices just don’t always coalesce gracefully. It’s occasionally jarring hearing a Williams melody swoop in, like an uninvited party guest. We’re not necessarily unhappy to see him, but he just doesn’t mesh so easily with the rest of the room. That misstep only occurs once or twice, and in the context of the film, most assuredly works seamlessly. As an album, however, those so-deeply-ingrained tunes popping up in otherwise new music sounds a little strange.

Michael Giacchino might be the most exciting thing to happen to film scores since Howard Shore took on The Lord Of The Rings. I have no doubt he will make his mark on several upcoming films, and he will have us humming his persisting themes for decades.

NERDY VINYL STUFF

Jurassic World comes in a two-disc gatefold sleeve, plastered with excellent evocative artwork by a pair of Mondo artists. The music is pressed on 180 gram black vinyl… unless you got lucky like me.

Mine just happened to be the super-cool, web exclusive version: 180 gram translucent green-with-blue-stripe vinyl, “In honor of Blue the Raptor”, to quote Mondo’s site directly (now sold out, but the black discs are still available). The fine people at this fine company never cease to amaze me with the thoughtful care they take in creating such fine, homage-paying products. If you love something, hopefully Mondo does too, because you just might get the perfect artistic rebirth of that thing in its highest quality.

I can’t say enough for classical music on vinyl. There is just something about it that… always pushes it into the free bin at the record store. Well, that may change with the vinyl rebellion, and Mondo is leading the charge with exquisite hi-fi releases like this.

Includes liner notes with brief thoughts from Colin Trevorrow and Michael Giacchino, and a listing of the orchestral staff.

MORE CINE-MUSIC ON VINYL

Mondo’s The Big Gundown

John Carpenter’s Lost Themes

A fine Resource

MONDO

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the author

Ryan Lewellen has loved movies ever since he was programmed that way by his creators from a universe parallel to, but reachable from, your own. He knows he shouldn’t be telling you that, but in 3 years, 2 months, 29 days, 16 hours, 30 minutes, and 55 second’s time, your awareness of our existence shan’t factor, for it is your fate and fate is inescapable, human. Enjoy your final moments reading his movie blog.