Varese Sarabande announced two additions to the Varese Sarabande club, these being How to Train Your Dragon 2, and The Iron Giant, both great scores that are equally deserving of an expanded re-issue. and are available now from Varese Sarabande.

How to Train Your Dragon 2 (The Deluxe Edition): Original Motion Picture Soundtrack.

Music Composed and Produced by John Powell.

On the heels of Varèse Sarabande’s Deluxe Edition of How to Train Your Dragon (2010) comes the 2-CD set of John Powell’s magnificent symphonic score to the 2014 sequel, How to Train Your Dragon 2. Already a firm favourite with critics and soundtrack fans alike the score by composer John Powell has to it many endearing and memorable compositions that are exciting and adventurous, all underlined by a romantic Gaelic sounding lilt. The How to Train Your Dragon trilogy is also a favourite amongst kids young and old, and the stunning animation by Dream Works brings the colourful and larger than life characters created by Cressida Cowell to life. The second movie in the trilogy starts where the first left off and focuses upon a young dragon hunter named Hiccup who befriends rather than slays a dragon named Toothless. British born composer John Powell has fashioned a stirring and relentlessly action-packed score for the movie and utilised some of the familiar themes from his original score for How to Train Your Dragon as a foundation for this symphonic tour de force. It is a score that at times harkens back to the days of the golden age of the film score echoing proud and rich thematic material akin to the style of Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Miklos Rozsa, and Alfred Newman.

It successfully purveys the many emotions within the story and underlines not only the action sequences but enhances perfectly the romantic, melancholy, and comedic interludes within the production. There is a richness and a wonderfully robust sense of the melodious here, the composer using sweeping strings, booming percussion and brass flourishes that are at times bolstered and supported by choral performances. He also makes effective use of woodwind and underlines these with choir and low-key strings to create some haunting tone poems. As he did for the first movie composer Powell collaborated with Icelandic singer Jonsi who provided affecting vocal performances on some of the cues. Powell also enlisted the aid of the Scottish bagpipes group Red Hot Chilli Pipers.

John Powell.

The soundtrack for How to Train Your Dragon 2, was originally issued on a single CD release at the time of the movie being in cinemas, this latest release is a de-luxe edition, which is released on two compact discs, and includes several demo tracks and boasts interesting new liner notes courtesy of Tim Greiving who interviews both the director of the movie and the composer. Highly recommended.  

The Iron Giant (The Deluxe Edition): Original Motion Picture Soundtrack.

Music Composed by Michael Kamen.

The Iron Giant, for some reason is a film and a score that is sadly neglected, but it is in my opinion one of the late Michael Kamen’s finest works for film. Released in 1999, it is in essence a modern-day classic which was brought to life as an animated movie by director Brad Bird, who also worked on movies such as The Incredibles and Mission Impossible-Ghost Protocol. The film focuses upon a young boy who befriends a giant alien robot during the Sputnik era of the Cold War. Based on the 1968 book The Iron Man by poet Ted Hughes, the film is a marvel of heartfelt storytelling, with timeless themes of friendship, caring and self-determination. Composer Michael Kamen created an outstandingly beautiful and a sympathetic and sensitive score for the movie. The work being his first for an animated feature and sadly one of his last major scores for the cinema. The score is filled with a vibrant and comedic air as well as a harmonious and action filled persona. It is as grandiose and dark as the nuclear devastation that is threatened in the movie and is also overflowing with intimate and endearing nuances which effectively underline many moments where the young boy and the giant become friends and the Iron Giant decides that rather than be a weapon of destruction, he would rather be a superman figure.

The score is literally bursting with rich and commanding themes that are performed by the Czech Philharmonic, originally released back in 1999 by Varese Sarabande, the compact disc contained forty nine minutes of music, for this deluxe edition there is sixty four minutes of score, plus thirteen minutes of alternative cues outtakes, and demos, which include a guitar and piano demo of a song that was eventually unused entitled Souls Don’t Die, which was based upon Kamen’s central theme from the score and is performed by Kamen and Eric Clapton.

Michael Kamen.

Tim Greiving’s new liner notes are a delight and feature new interview material with director Brad Bird, music editor Christopher Brooks and orchestrator Blake Neely, going deep into Kamen’s working process and their adoration for the gifted, late composer. A digital version of the Deluxe Edition to The Iron Giant is also available at all traditional download and streaming sites. Highly recommended.