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Happy Feet Two by John Powell (Review)

posted Dec 5, 2011, 10:19 PM by Kaya Savas

John Powell is by far the best composer when it comes to animation. His themes are unforgettable and his style is unmatchable. Happy Feet blew me away when it came out and at the time it was the best score he composed. Since then How To Train Your Dragon has come out so clearly Happy Feet will gladly take second place. So naturally I was anticipating Happy Feet Two immensely, but sometimes expectations can be set too high. This is the case for Happy Feet Two, which is a score I love but it is nowhere near the brilliance of the first one.

Powell brings back familiar themes and uses them in new arrangements. Powell's percussive style is absolutely perfect for the tap dancing penguin story, but the immense emotional wallop from the first one is lost. The score sort of floats along and at times greatness shines through but for most of the time it's your standard Powell fare. Powell did a good job with adapting and producing the songs just as he did last time, but I think the songs took priority here for this outing. The score is only as good as the film allows it to be, and the film definitely suffers from some sequelitis. Hearing the old themes here doesn't feel as natural as the first time around. I feel like Powell included them just for the sake of giving the audience something to tie back to the first film. They don't seem to be the grounding staple as they were in the first score. All in all I can never not like Powell so I did enjoy this score. However, it is clear that this film didn't give him the inspiration he had on the first. Powell going through the motions is still greater than most of the scores you'll hear, but don't expect the level where the first score was at.

I feel like this is a mirroring situation of Ice Age. Powell's first score for the franchise was the second film and it was an amazing score. When he returned to do the third one it was almost identical to this. It had the old themes but tossed in there with no emotional weight. I'm not too disappointed since John Powell gave us Rio earlier this year and I'm still enjoying that score immensely. Then there was Kung Fu Panda 2 with Hans Zimmer, which is one of this year's best scores and has some of Powell's best traits. Happy Feet Two may fail to match the first film, but it's still a really good score.
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