How to Train Your Dragon 2 Soundtrack Review

ZinePak edition of HTTYD2's Soundtrack
I'll just say upfront, I'm not a music person.  That is, I've never really been musically inclined, though I think I do sing on key. ;-)   However, I do love listening to music and some of my favorites since in high school are soundtracks and film scores.  Needless to say, don't expect any music theory or correct usage of musical terms here.  =)

From Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, to The Chronicles of Narnia films ... I love it when a composer "reuses" or "reinterprets" memorable motifs and themes.  To me, it's like saying "hello" or "welcome back" to an old friend.  John Powell does something similar here with How to Train Your Dragon 2, but as with Howard Shore or John Williams, he also adds new pieces and themes that work wonderfully in the Viking world of Berk and beyond.  He doesn't just rehash.  But don't take my word for it, you can listen to it on SoundCloud, where the official publisher (Relativity Music Group) currently has the entire HTTYD2 film score streaming for free online.


My ZinePak Review: I purchased HTTYD2's soundtrack from Wal-Mart for $10 USD.  The ZinePak I bought included a fold-out mini poster (mine was Astrid, so I was super happy, but I've heard other people have gotten Hiccup), a Night Fury dragon embroidered patch, and the 64 page booklet, which is where the CD disc is stored.  The only negative I  have is that you don't get a plastic jewel case to store the CD (I'm going to put my disc in an extra case I have) and some of the images near the end of the 'zine looked like someone did a quick, flat digital color job to some HTTYD2 coloring pages (however, the majority of images are promotional pictures from the film).  But all in all, I think it was a pretty good deal and some nice bonuses for Berkians (HTTYD fans) considering the price is the same (or lower) than the normal CD version.

I love the whole film score, but besides the battle and finale scores, some tracks that stood out to me were:

"Dragon Racing" - The triumphant opening suite to the film.  Bagpipes are some of the new instruments I recognized to be incorporated with familiar themes from the first movie.  Though beginning with Hiccup's monologue again introducing the audience to Berk, the situation is more lighthearted than the dragon attack scene that greeted us then, and the music reflects that.

"Together We Map the World" - I love how it contains echoes of "Forbidden Friendship" from the first film (the score used for one of the most wonderful non-dialogue scene in HTTYD). 

"Hiccup the Chief / Drago's Coming" - Simply because I just love this scene in the film where Hiccup's telling Astrid of Stoick's plans to make him chief ... and then "Drago's Coming" is an awesome new piece full of choral bits and perfect for that action sequence in the film.  I especially think the part three minutes into to this track (when they're back on Berk) is fantastic.

"Flying with Mother" - I love the vocalizations of the female choir in this track --it's a joyous, happy piece. 

"For the Dancing and the Dreaming" - A lovely ditty that sounds like a traditional Celtic (or Viking?) folk tune.  This song got me out of my Frozen soundtrack playlist, ha ha.  I heard it for the first time as I was watching the film and it is perfectly beautiful!  Sung by a couple of the characters (who I won't name as not to spoil), though HTTYD isn't an animated film musical, the song was incorporated in such a way that it felt natural and the scene organically unfolded for the characters to sing. 

"Hiccup Confronts Drago" - The bagpipes in the last half of this track lend an eerie feel to the piece --with disquiet and unease, much like the villain himself. 

"Stoick's Ship" - One of the most poignant pieces (along with the track #14 before it).  I love the orchestral version of "For the Dancing and the Dreaming" that's added here and the climax fifty-five seconds in is breathtaking ... The bagpipes are back and are a perfect addition for one of my most favorite-but-not-favorite scenes in the film.
"Where No One Goes" -This song was featured in the second scene, where Hiccup and Toothless first appear in the film.  Written by Jónsi (who wrote the credits song in HTTYD), when I first saw this scene in the five minute online preview, I thought it was too modern, but since they incorporated John Powell's score into it as well, it doesn't seem quite as out of place.   The collaboration has grown on me (much like "Love is an Open Door" from Frozen) and I like both the song and how it was used in the film now.

Earlier this month, Powell received the Hollywood Music in Media Award for Best Score in an Animated Film for this film score, beating out Danny Elfman (Mr. Peabody and Sherman), Dario Marianelli  (The Boxtrolls), Gustavo Santaolalla (The Book of Life) Kristian Sensini, (Rocks in My Pockets), and Mark Mothersbaugh (The Lego Movie).  HTTYD's first film score netted him an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Score (which lost to The Social Network, of all things), so I hope he might be able to win an Oscar for HTTYD2 this time.

If you want to check out a more musical critique, I found TrackSounds' How to Train Your Dragon 2 film score review to be quite educational. 

Do you listen to soundtracks or film scores?  Who are your favorite composers or which scores are your favorites? 

[Edit: updated labels Jan. 4, 2015]

How to Train Your Dragon 2 Soundtrack Review How to Train Your Dragon 2 Soundtrack Review Reviewed by The Artist Librarian on 11/13/2014 12:00:00 AM Rating: 5

2 comments:

  1. I love the music from this movie!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I do also, Laura. They're definitely one of my top favorite film scores of all time!

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