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Soundtrack review: How to train your dragon 2 (John Powell, 2014)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: How to train your dragon 2 (John Powell, 2014)


John Powell is a master of animated film music. Even if some of my favorite scores by him are action movies, I have to admit that his work on animated features is brilliant. Another “graduate” of Hans Zimmer’s Remote Control Production studio, Powell always seems to find a way to bring magic to the animated world.
The score for the first “How to train your dragon” movie was a blast. It got him an Oscar nomination and has been on the favorites lists of many film music fans. Needless to say the expectations for the second one were huge. John Powell surpassed them. For me, the first score was very enjoyable, but not necessarily replay material. The second one however was a blast.
The first two tracks of the sequel, “Dragon racing” and “Together we map the world”, got my attention. I actually stopped and listened to them again right of the bat. The third cue however, “Hiccup the chief/ Drago’s coming” just grabbed me, threw me on the back of a dragon and flew me into a magic world I had only felt in Harry Potter before. A thunderstorm of choirs and horns comes down on me and still the dragon flies me straight to it. From that moment on, the score doesn’t stop. There’s no way I can go back now, or stop it, or have seconds thoughts about it. This score has the pure magic and joy of an endless childhood summer day when everything happens…John Powell controls this day, and makes it an unforgettable experience: you get a rain storm that drenches you with rich, choral and Celtic inspired cues (try “Toothless lost”, “Valka’s dragon sanctuary” or “Losing mom / meet the good alpha”)…then it all quiets down and the sun shines again and warms your flight with tender and emotional fairy tale cues (“Flying with mother”, “Stoick’s ship”, the painfully beautiful ”Stoick saves Hiccup” or “Toothless found”).
My favorite cue from this score is “Battle of the Bewilderbeast”. It’s the monster, six and a half minutes long track of the score, and I can only imagine the excitement a kid must feel watching the movie, caring for the characters and sitting on the edge of his seat listening to this music. It’s epic and adventurous and it leaves a lasting impression that everyone will still talk about on their way home.
After listening to this, all I can say is that I can’t wait for the end of the trilogy!
My ratings:
Cue rating: 84 / 100
Total minutes of excellence: 53 / 66
Album excellence: 81%
Cues to listen to:
Dragon Racing
Hiccup the Chief / Drago’s Coming
Toothless Lost
Should I Know You?
Valka’s Dragon Sanctuary
Losing Mom / Meet the Good Alpha
Stoick Finds Beauty
Flying With Mother
Battle of the Bewilderbeast
Hiccup Confronts Drago
Stoick Saves Hiccup
Stoick’s Ship
Toothless Found
Two New Alphas
Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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