How to Train your Dragon 2

John Powell

" Are you ready for the best that 2014 has to offer? "

Written by Thomas Glorieux - Review of the regular release

Somehow the makers never expected How to Train your Dragon to become the kind of hit it is today, but fortunately it is just that. A big hit that throws every muscular style together. Including the big bold muscular musical swashbuckling score of John Powell. The king of animation. Sadly it seems that the king fulfilled one last duty with How to Train your Dragon 2, considering John Powell is taking a ?permanent? break from composing for films. If we will see him again on HTTYD3 is just the question, because let's face facts loud and clear. The loud swashbuckling voice of How to Train your Dragon 2 is nothing short of the best people will get to hear this year.

Think of it, a bunch of themes returning from the get go, aided by a bunch of new themes in an all exploding energetic tempo that only the best of the business can deliver. That's this score in a nutshell. Beginning with an already explosive ode to the first one. The Berk theme, the Viking theme (rollicking with bagpipes), the playful motif for Hiccup's dragon tricks, the love theme (Astrid's theme) in full blown choral delight and a bunch of other motifs that resurface, you name it, it's all here in thundering fashion. The opener by that promises big things, and even if it takes a little while, what follows is nothing short of groundbreaking John Powell music at it's best.

A friendship theme (Hiccup and Toothless) emerges immediately in "Together we Map the World", while Astrid's lovely theme graces "Hiccup the Chief / Drago's Coming" for a minute, soon to be overpowered by Drago's menacing theme. Meaning that's 2 new themes immediately making a first impression. Soon to be followed by the Lost and Found powerful statement in "Toothless Lost", a first of many dramatic highlight to be sure. Because this is soon followed by "Should I know You" and "Valka's Dragon Sanctuary" which is basically the Mom theme and the lost and found theme kindly touching one another as both son and mom find each other after a long time. It's especially brilliant when Powell starts mixing these themes together, most specifically in the upcoming highlights.

Because let's face it, from here on it's theme heaven. Motifs and themes are flawlessly weaving into one another, often challenging the person listening whether to just accept and enjoy it, or to analyze and notice the many themes that pass by each minute. Of course you should do the first thing considering it's the kind of thing that's very rare in filmmusic nowadays. The flashback sequence "Losing Mom / Meet the Good Alpha" has the lost and found theme erupting (working for both Toothless and Hiccup as for Valka and Hiccup), followed by the final new theme which is my golden Age like theme for the Alpha beast. A theme that surely gets fantastic meaning in "Battle of the Bewilderbeast".

Meaning it's a challenge to just discover them all sometimes, but it's a beautiful challenge as well because it shows just how much the kind of freedom the king of animation received on this movie. "Meet Drago" as expected turns the attention to the new nemesis, putting his theme into a couple of menacing performances. And just before these good and bad characters meet one another, there is still time for one of the most magical moments of the film and disc. Namely "Flying with Mother", a combination of the friendship theme and Mom's theme in amazing unison. Mesmerizing choral delight dances as Valka (Mom) and Hiccup show what Dragon dancing truly means. Or a textbook example why filmmusic still remains magical when image and sound find each other.

The song moment "For the Dancing and the Dreaming" I'm not so fond off, simply because it has more meaning inside the picture. Luckily this is followed by one of the strongest tracks of the disc, namely "Battle of the Bewilderbeast". Or an energetic cue where themes meet one another in thundering conditions. Especially the Flying theme of the first movie returns for the first time in bold conditions, followed by the crowning achievement when the Alpha theme emerges right after that in Golden Age style. I mean, come on, where do you hear such bold exciting music anymore? Yes, when composers who are capable are left with no boundaries, except the ones they make themselves.

"Hiccup Confronts Drago" goes for subdued and raged emotion, especially the rage is evident once Drago shows how he keeps his Alpha (and by that all dragons) under control, leading in the inevitable "Stoick Saves Hiccup", a highly emotional goodbye. Followed by "Stoick's Ship", cementing its emotional power on the song theme (track 11), with bagpipes and all to generate that real Scottish flair, spine tingling stuff for sure. But the finale is of course all what's needed to generate that spine-tingling'ness, ten fold of course. First there's "Toothless Found", full of bold theme statements (the lost and found theme in particular) and exciting fanfares that leave us practically breathless, just leaving a little bit of room for the final extravaganza "Two New Alphas", with another set of the lost and found theme statements, the alpha theme for the NEW alpha that rises up and a finale of finales when the fanfares show us why it is good to be a filmmusic fan.

I mean, even if you aren't a fan of John Powell's energetic style, please just sit back and marvel at the dozen of themes, melodies and motifs that race through one another, leaving you breathless at one point, and alert at another. Just thinking you might miss one if you don't pay attention, considering they all weave through one another so fluently. Just think of it, when were themes used so extensively they tell the tale for us musically? For me you already have to go back to LOTR to hear such thematic brilliance in a motion picture. Simply because of that wizardry and style, it's an honor to grace John Powell's How to Train your Dragon 2 with the honor of being the best score of the year for me. Whatever the reason is Mr. Powell, I believe you have cemented yourself as one of the best composers out there, simply for having the strength to deliver what we fans like to call music that delivers more than notes. Thank you!

Favorite Moment - Battle of the Bewilderbeast (2.15 - 4.10)
I continue to marvel at the majestic rise of the alpha theme, flawlessly rising out of the racing tempo that John Powell delivers

Track Listing

1. Dragon Racing (4.34) Excellent track
2. Together we Map the World (2.19)
3. Hiccup the Chief / Drago's Coming (4.44)
4. Toothless Lost (3.28) Excellent track
5. Should I Know You? (1.56)
6. Valka's Dragon Sanctuary (3.19)
7. Losing Mom / Meet the Good Alpha (3.24) Excellent track
8. Meet Drago (4.26)
9. Stoick Finds Beauty (2.33)
10. Flying with Mother (2.49) Excellent track
11. For the Dancing and the Dreaming * (3.06)
12. Battle of the Bewilderbeast (6.26) Excellent track
13. Hiccup Confronts Drago (4.06)
14. Stoick Saves Hiccup (2.23)
15. Stoick's Ship (3.48)
16. Alpha Comes to Berk (2.20)
17. Toothless Found (3.46) Excellent track
18. Two New Alphas (6.06) Excellent track
19. Where No One Goes: Jónsi ** (2.44)

* performed by Gerard Butler, Craig Ferguson & Mary Jane Wells
** written by John Powell

Total Length: 68.07
(click to rate this score)  
(total of 74 votes - average 3.19/5)

Released by

Relativity Music Group RMG1067-1 (regular release 2014)

Conducted by

Gavin Greenaway

Orchestrations by

Pete Anthony, Jeff Atmajian, Rick Giovinazzo, Randy Kerber, Andrew Kinney, Tommy Laurence, Dave Metzger & John Ashton Thomas