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How To Train Your Dragon

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 23 2010)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Universal Music Canada
  • ASIN: B00386EZJU
  • Other Editions: Audio CD
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #8,594 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By K. Edwards on April 8 2011
Format: Audio CD
This movie had an excellent instrumental score, and the CD captures it wonderfully. I gave this CD to my nephew, who wanted to watch "How to Train Your Dragon" eight times a day. The music ended up making a great substitute! I liked it so much, I bought a copy for myself as well!
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I don't like to buy music from movies as the combination of visuals and music is better than the music by itself. However, I had to have this score. This is the best music score I have heard in a long time. It stands on its own without the movie. Most excellent.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
We are still listening after a few years. It has great variety and always makes our van rides more enjoyable.
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By Shelley A. Jensen on Sept. 9 2014
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I`ve seen the movie, so the souhdtrack was what I expected.
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Amazon.com: 221 reviews
169 of 184 people found the following review helpful
Soaring with the dragons March 27 2010
By Jon Broxton - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
We're in a Golden Age of animated motion pictures. When I was a kid growing up in the 1980s you got one, maybe two films from Disney in a calendar year, plus the odd independent movie like Watership Down or The Secret of NIMH, or some arty foreign language thing with bad dubbing, but that was about your lot. Since the Disney renaissance began in 1989 with The Little Mermaid the strength and popularity of the animated feature has grown exponentially, to the point where every major studio has its own animation department, well over a dozen full length feature animations are released each year, and companies like Pixar break box office records with apparent ease. The competition is fierce, but the Dreamworks studio seems to have managed the right blend of hip comedy and family-friendly action, spinning off from their massively successful Shrek series with hits such as Kung Fu Panda, Madagascar, and their 20th and most recent feature, How to Train Your Dragon.

Based on a popular children's book by Cressida Cowell, the film is a tale of Vikings and dragons, set on the island of Berk, where fighting dragons is a way of life. Hiccup, the son of the Viking chief Stoick the Vast, is a brainy outsider with a smart mouth, and would rather not grow up to fight dragons; he is a terrible embarrassment to his father, who in an attempt to `toughen up' the boy, sends to the dragon-fighting school of Gobber the Belch. However, rather than becoming the fearsome warrior his father intended, Hiccup inadvertently saves the life and befriends the dragon he was supposed to kill... The film stars the voice talent of Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, Craig Ferguson, America Ferrara, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Jonah Hill, and is directed by Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois, who previously directed Lilo & Stitch for Disney in 2002.

Musically, Dreamworks Animation has been the sole domain of Hans Zimmer and his protégés from Media Ventures and now Remote Control since day one. Having already worked on Antz, The Road to El Dorado, Chicken Run, Kung Fu Panda, and the original Shrek movie, English composer John Powell returns for a sixth time - although, ironically, the first time as a sole credited composer - and has written the best score for the studio since Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas back in 2003, and overall one of the best scores of his entire career.

The first thing I should point out is that, while he is clearly excellent at music, John Powell could do with brushing up on his geography a ltitle. Powell was obviously playing with the joke that the Viking adults in the film are voiced by Scottish actors - Butler and Ferguson - but may have taken it a step too far by injecting the music of the Highlands into his score too. Bagpipes skirl, whistles dance and fiddles fly in a manner unbecoming a noble Scandinavian gentlemen. It could be that Powell used a Swedish säckpipa or a Norwegian Hardanger fiddle and not one of their Celtic cousins from across the North Sea, but there is still a slight, if fleeting, geographical disconnect that occurs, causing a brief moment of puzzlement when the score first begins.

This small issue aside, the rest of How to Train Your Dragon is an absolute delight. The word which keeps springing to mind when listening to this music is `joyous'. It's music that wows you with stirring action sequences, touches you with more lyrical material, and slaps a big, silly smile on your face from the first cue to the last. John Powell seems to excel at animation scores more than any other type of film he attempts; the level of inventiveness in works such as Robots, the Ice Age series, and his work with Harry Gregson-Williams on Chicken Run and the Shrek series is obvious, but these scores sometimes have a schizophrenic everything-including-the-kitchen-sink approach that can make the album a disjointed affair, jumping from style to style and theme to theme seemingly at random. How to Train Your Dragon is not like that; it flows beautifully from start to finish as a cohesive listening experience, and as such is probably Powell's most satisfying work, in any genre, in years.

The opening cue, "This is Berk", introduces the three score's main themes. It begins with a noble horn performance of what eventually becomes the score's `flying theme', and segues into a sweet woodwind piece for Hiccup and his would-be girlfriend Astrid that recalls the more low-key moments of Chicken Run, before literally exploding into the first performance of the score's main theme, a rousing anthem for the entire orchestra and a male voice choir that is simply magnificent. The large orchestra/male voice choir/Scottish instruments combination heard here is basically the blueprint for the entire score, with some variation of one of more of these elements appearing in every cue. The main theme re-occurs regularly throughout the score, receiving notable recapitulations in cues such as "New Tail", "This Time For Sure" and "Astrid Goes For a Spin" to excellent effect. The tender piano performance of the theme in "Where's Hiccup" is magical.

The flying cues, where Hiccup takes to the skies on the back of his scaly friend Toothless, are exhilarating in the best possible way, with the astonishing "Test Drive" capturing the spectacular freedom of flight in no uncertain terms. The music in these cues swoops and dives, and opens into expansive statements of the flying theme which are quite thrilling, especially when the bagpipes and an electric guitar join the orchestra. Listening to this music, you can almost feel the wind in your hair, taking your breath away, as you wheel through the skies. Occasionally, in some of these more open moments, the score reminds me of Hummie Mann's vastly underrated score for Year of the Comet, and those few who are familiar with that excellent work will know what a compliment that is.

The action music is equally superb; energetic, tuneful, creative, and often featuring statements of or more of the main themes. "Dragon Battle" has some fearsome low brass chords mixed in with propulsive, urgent rhythmic writing, providing the fire-breathing beasties with a sense of menace and danger. Later cues such as "The Downed Dragon", "Dragon Training", "Focus, Hiccup", "Dragon's Den", "The Kill Ring" and the astonishingly intense "Counter Attack" are no less entertaining, running the gamut of emotions, occasionally tense and nervous, occasionally downright threatening, but often embracing a free-wheeling, carefree vitality that is a pleasure to experience. In each of these cues, the power generated by the orchestra, and the way in which Powell orchestrates each section with such apparent ease, is outstanding.

The score is not all bombast and histrionics, though. "Forbidden Friendship" has a dreamy, almost New Age vibe, with an unusual tick-tock percussion element highlighting marimbas and xylophones, a breathy female vocalist, and even sleigh bells, which gradually reveals itself as a creative variation on the flying theme. "See You Tomorrow" is a toe-tapping Highland reel with fluttering pennywhistles forefronting several huge thematic performances, and is probably the closest Powell has come to recapturing the vitality of "Building the Crate" from Chicken Run in over a decade (still one of the highlight cues of his career). The romantic theme for Hiccup and Astrid, hints of which appear in the opening cue, is expanded in the glorious, sweeping "Romantic Flight", another one of the score's many high points.

The score's finale, from "Ready the Ships" through to "Coming Back Around", represents 20 minutes of the best action music of John Powell's entire career. "Ready the Ships" had a determined, expectant feeling, although the hocking male voice choirs and martial percussion hits do give way at one point to a more subtle, reflective sequence which is quite lovely. "Battling the Green Death" is utterly spectacular, and even has a sequence of Erich Wolfgang Korngold/Max Steiner-style swashbuckling adventure music which gives the cue a wonderfully nostalgic Golden Age feel. When Powell restates the flying theme at around the 4½ minute mark, and in the conclusive "Coming Back Around", the music absolutely soars.

Possibly the only misfire on the album is the song at the end of the album, "Sticks & Stones" by Jónsi, better known as Jón Þór Birgisson of the Icelandic rock band Sigur Rós. I like Sigur Rós, and having an actual Scandinavian artist contribute to the project makes sense, but the downbeat introspection and morose style of Birgisson's music seems even gloomier considering the nature of the music that preceded it.

It's very rare that one can listen to an entire 70+ minute album and honestly say that all of them have musical merit, but that is genuinely the case here. Usually scores of this length have a fair amount of filler, and would benefit from a bit of editorial pruning to get it down to 45-50 minutes, but on How to Train Your Dragon every cue has worth, either through a thematic restatement or a new and interesting texture. What I also like a great deal about this score is the clarity of its sound. Although for a great deal of the running time the entire orchestra is in play, in virtually every cue there is a moment where one specific instrument will come to the fore in a featured performance, just for a couple of bars; the opening cue alone has moments for clarinet and harp that are excellent. Later, in "The Dragon Book", a harpsichord pops up playing off brass triplets - and that's just one of literally dozens and dozens of moments throughout the score that make you sit up and take notice.

I'm running out of superlatives now, but I think I've made my point. How to Train Your Dragon is a 5-star score all the way, a fine example of modern film music which reaffirms my faith in John Powell. I have to admit that, in recent years, his Bourne Identity urban thriller style had started to try my patience, and I was beginning to wonder whether the composer who impressed me so much at the turn of the millennium was ever going to come back. Thankfully, he has, and with a score which sets the benchmark for 2010 almost impossibly high. In an already crowded market it's an early contender for score of the year, and anyone who revels in old fashioned thematic orchestral writing will absolutely love it.
50 of 54 people found the following review helpful
Lightening to the Brain May 15 2010
By Sarah S. Chow - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I mean, sheesh, really?

I'm a youngun (18) and I've always had a bit of a thing for instrumentals, soundtracks, what have you- this is probably the first movie of my life I walked out of thinking, I MUST HAVE THAT SOUNDTRACK.

Seriously, this is strong stuff. Emotional roller-coaster stuff. It's like coffee, actually- I've found myself PUMPED after every listening.

The opening, "This Is Berk" is a rip-roaring rollicking "overture" of sorts that makes you wanna leap out of bed, grab your horns and a bucket of water, and go fight some dragons.

All in all, it's great listening if you're draggin' a little. (Ha, draggin'... )

Other great tracks include "Forbidden Friendship" which of course makes you picture some of the most endearing scenes of the movie, while rousing you with the soul-twisting strings at the finale. "See You Tomorrow", a personal favorite, is a melodramatic little jig between heroic theatrics and unassuming Celtic reel- so cinematic and rousing I've actually used it for curtain-call at a high school play. Astrid's character is repeatedly echoed in her own set of strings, in the ever-so "Romantic Flight".

It's all so very cinematic, at points, it's almost like watching the movie again- there are moments where you can tell EXACTLY what's supposed to be going on on-screen. It's wonderful.

Do not listen to this right before bed, unless you want to stay up all night. Absolutely listen to it if you need to get something done in your life, as this music will convince you that it is Heroic and Important and Possible. You will GET THINGS DONE to this music, I promise you.
25 of 29 people found the following review helpful
Music To Listen To While Riding Dragons April 18 2010
By Flap Jackson - Published on Amazon.com
Looking back on How To Train Your Dragon, you're going to remember this amazing movie that moved you, remembering the story, the characters, the animation, but probably not the music. However, if you remember closely, the soundtrack was key to your enjoyment. It punctuated the movie. It put its stamp on classic scenes in the best way possible. John Powell has always been one of the best composers in Hollywood today, but I think this soundtrack is his crowning achievement. Having to incorporate a full range of emotions in this soundtrack, while also keeping to the spirit of the environment, it wasn't an easy task. Rest assured, this is the best soundtrack since Up. And even then, I might debate that it exceeds it.

Highlights Include:
This is Berk
Forbidden Friendship
Test Drive
Romantic Fight
Sticks & Stones

Comparing the flying music for HTTYD & Avatar for instance is no comparison. Avatar doesn't have a track like "Test Flight," which is certainly the best soundtrack piece since Up's "Married Life." There's just so much life, adventure, enchantment & magic here, it soars in every way possible, and then some. And despite the fact that the track is only a couple minutes long, it uses every second to its full potential. It also serves as the theme to the movie, so it gets played off a variety of splendid way throughout the soundtrack.

The rest of the instrumental works also work quite well and they all convey the right range of emotions, from intensity (The Kill Ring), to romantic moments (Romantic Fight), to wonder and playfulness (Forbidden Friendship), to foreboding (Ready The Ships). The whole soundtrack is an absolute wonder with its massive orchestra adding that much of a grander scale to the proceedings, its variety, and its Celtic influences. And when its all said and done, there's an immense sense of satisfaction just by listening to the music here.

But as soon as the movie ended, this satisfaction only grew when I heard the song playing over the credits. That song is "Sticks & Stones" by Sigur Rós frontman & singer, Jónsi. It's a mixture of English & Icelandic that fits perfectly into a fast-paced sunny & hopeful indie tune that punctuates the movie in a unexpected way. I mean, you'd expect a lame pop song to play over the credits of a movie like this, not a tune by an indie legend.

Overall, for soundtrack lovers, for people that loved the movie, and everybody in-between, the HTTYD soundtrack is an unexpected joyful masterpiece for soundtracks. And it's sure to keep you in the spirit of the wonderful film for a long time to come.
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Beautiful & Hopeful with some Celtic Flavor March 25 2010
By Compay - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
DreamWorks couldn't have found a better composer for this film when they brouht John Powell on board. Already with scores for Shrek and Horton Hears a Who under his belt, Powell does a terrific job with this 25-track album.

Most of the score contains classic orchestration; largely strings with plenty of woodwinds. The songs are generally upbeat, and the soundtrack grows thunderous as the film progresses. While the movie takes place in the mythical island of Berk, songs like "New Tail" and "This is Berk" have a pleasant Celtic twist to them.

The more offbeat instrumentation in the album includes the East Indian sitar in "Dragon Book", and the xylophone in "Forbidden Friendship." A few inclusions in the album also incorporate an intense chorus, such as the Danny Elfman vibed "Wounded". Speaking of other composers, I also enjoyed "Romantic Flight", a hopeful and inspiring song that is almost a throwback to the older work of James Horner.

The most distinct song on the album isn't by John Powell, it's the falsetto pop-rock "Sticks and Stones" that plays during the credits. It's appropriate for a movie with vikings, as it was recorded exclusively for the soundtrack by Icelandic singer Jónsi of Sigur Rós. Little trivia: director Dean Deblois also shot a film of Jónsi performing one of his albums, which might help to explain the connection.

The more lively songs on the album seem to stick to the same melody, but the album doesn't feel too repetitious. It's amazing to watch Powell do a great job composing for Green Zone, and immediately follow it up with a beautiful score for a fun children's film. Another must-have album for soundtrack aficionados.
15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Pure storybook wonder music April 13 2010
By Emily J. Morris - Published on Amazon.com
The movie came out. I work in an elementary school and am surrounded by kids constantly, so naturally I have to go see the cool (and quality) movies that excite the kids (and this one looked pretty good.) So I went to the theatre and thoroughly enjoyed the enchanting story and incredible imagination. So no disrepect to those aspects of the movie whatsoever.

BUT I firmly believe this movie would have not been what it was without the score. I can't remember the time I had heard a score that so well matched the story and emotion of a film. This movie is loosely based on a children's book and I think the music somehow brought along that literary magic. Just listen to the music and you can tell more or less what part of the movie it is. I remember sitting in the theatre, stunned at how well this music supported the story.

Thus, I am calling this storybook music. It's sweet, simple, and all the while completely joyous/powerful/sad/whatever the occassion called for. A little Celtic touch completes the magic, not to mention those certain chords tying all the pieces together. I left the theatre believing the music was the best part of an already awesome movie and downloaded the album.

And here is an example of this music's power: My classroom, last week, was painted and recarpeted. This of course meant that moving back in was hell and at this time I still don't know where a quarter of my things are--including the CD player used for listening centers, story readings, and the five minutes after recess where I play instrumental music to calm down the kids. So instead I pulled out my music-playing phone and turned up the volume on this album. Every student who had seen the movie IMMEDIATELY recognized what the music was (and became very excited and defeated the purpose of the calming down period).

If squirrly first graders are touched enough by this music to recognize it, well, I can't tell you a more powerful testimony.

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