Wednesday, 16 February 2011

VG Score Review - The Lost World: Jurassic Park (Michael Giacchino)

Before I carry on with my list of DVDs, I'm just going to write a quick review of the score for The Lost World: Jurassic Park Videogame by Michael Giacchino.

Hunt it down, tranquilise it, and bring it back to San Diego... If you can work around the limitations of a videogame soundtrack and will enjoy one short, bombastic cue after another.

Leave it to live in peace... If you prefer a subtler type of score. If so, see A Single Man.

Although it may not seem like much at first glance, this score is one of the most important of the nineties. The primary reason for this is that it was the first videogame score ever to make use of a full orchestral soundtrack, thus paving the way for videogame soundtracks such as Medal of Honor to rival the scores of their equivalent films in quality (And yes, that's me saying that Medal Of Honor kicks all kinds of bunk out of John William's score for Saving Private Ryan).
Thye other reason is that this is also one of Michael Giacchino's first ever jobs writing a full score. After this, Giacchino will slowly work his way up through the industry, through the Medal of Honor franchise up to the TV stage, scoring such shows as Alias and Lost in the early noughties, whilst writing the occasional Pixar film on the side. Further and further he'll climb, moving on to score major blockbuster films including Mission Impossible 3 and Star Trek (2009) until he eventually wins an Academy Award for best soundtrack for his work on the Pixar film Up.

And it all starts with this score.

Now, despite all of that hyperbole, I am definitely not saying that The Lost World is anywhere near the quality of Giacchino's later work, nor does it compare to John Williams' work on the films. However, it is very interesting to see Giacchino's roots, and many of his techniques used in this soundtrack will serve him well during his time with the Medal of Honor franchise.

The limitations of being the first orchestral videogame soundtrack are also evident. There is but a single track on the entire CD that breaks past the 2:20 barrier, excentuating the fact that Giacchino was hired to write short, concentrated bursts of music that could be easily mixed and shaped around the dynamic world of the videogame. Whereas Williams is able to explore all of his themes fully through his knowledge of how exactly his music will synchronise with the film, videogame soundtracks require that the music be able to change dramatically at certain checkpoints as the player moves through the game so as to give the illusion that the soundtrack is synchronised with the game, despite the fact that one player might take 10 minutes to complete a level whilst another player could do the same in 2 minutes.

With all of these limitations in mind, Giacchino does an absolutely fantastic job with what he is given. Each track contains at least one moment of genius that the listener can latch on to. Giacchino also manages to create a thematically consistent work around his restrictions, writing themes and motifs for a number of characters and creatures that recur at significant points in the game rather than just providing generic action/scary music.

Rating: 7

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