Amazon won’t allow reviews for the soundtrack till it’s actually available. But I really, really want to write about it.
So here we go.
I’m currently on my third time through it and loving it more each time around. I knew the music was going to be great (the HTTYD1 soundtrack had rocketed to the top of my favourite soundtracks list with just one go-through and has stayed put), but man, is this ever fantastic! John Powell has done it again.
Where to start? Well, here’s one thing: though some of music/themes from HTTYD1 are definitely featured, they’re not just ripped straight from the HTTYD1 soundtrack (*cough* like some of the music from Disney/Walden’s Prince Caspian being exact tracks from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe *cough*). You’ll recognize the themes when they come up — and if you’re anything like me, you’ll even be able to identify the name of each track they came from — but even when the melody remains basically the same, the orchestration in the background varies and gives the pieces a new feel. For example, the opening track, “Dragon Racing”, is more or less a suite of HTTYD1 music (“Test Drive”, “This is Berk”, “See You Tomorrow”, “Romantic Flight”, and bits of other tracks) with new interludes, but rehashed to fit the feel of the dragon racing scene we’ll see in the movie. Basically what I’m saying is, there’s enough call-back to the first soundtrack to bring continuity to this world of vikings and dragons (and even nostalgia, if you’re a big enough fan of the first soundtrack), but it’s not so direct as to be distracting (as parts of Prince Caspian were for me).
All that said, there’s also a very good amount of original music here totally unrelated to the first movie. These include a lovely little ditty sung by two characters I won’t name and at least two especially touching, emotive pieces which I won’t list because I think the titles are major spoilers (trust me to find a spoiler anywhere! I love spoilers).
Speaking of emotive pieces, the sequel’s music matches, if not surpasses, the first soundtrack’s power on the listener. One of the reasons I loved HTTYD1 on my first viewing was the music, to the point that I was convinced that you could mute most of the dialogue and still have the story told well. The HTTYD2 soundtrack, I can tell, is going to do the same for its movie. There’s everything from tense battle to fun-and-games to heart-string-tugging. There is going to be a range of emotions in this movie and I’m really excited for all of them.
As we can see in the trailers, HTTYD2 is going to be darker, more grown-up, more intense than its predecessor. The music reflects this and I have a pretty good idea of the feel of the movie, especially when I combine the music with the pictures and clips I’ve seen.
John Powell’s command of music is incredible. I enjoy a number of soundtracks (the Narnias, The Lord of the Rings, Real Steel, and the few instrumentals on the Sherwood Pictures movies soundtracks among them), but none of them compare to the way the HTTYD soundtracks stir me. (Sorry, Howard Shore fans. I agree that his work on LotR was amazing and I wouldn’t change any of it, but John Powell has scored more points in my book.) I feel as though I know the story when, really, I don’t know very much of it. And as a fan of story in general, I appreciate music that tells a story effectively without a single word uttered (though I will say that the titles help in laying a foundation for the story).
In a nutshell, a picture paints a thousand words. And so does the HTTYD2 soundtrack.