Director: Dean DeBlois
Writers: Dean DeBlois, Cressida Cowell
Stars: Jay Baruchel, Cate Blanchett, Gerard Butler
Summary: When Hiccup and Toothless discover an ice cave that is home to hundreds of new wild dragons and the mysterious Dragon Rider, the two friends find themselves at the center of a battle to protect the peace.
“Soars higher than its predecessor”
The original How to Train your Dragon was a huge surprise to me when I originally saw it in theaters in 2010. I went in thinking it was going to be a fun kids film about dragons, nothing more. I got that but with a hell of a lot more heart than I had expected and some of the most breathtaking 3D I have seen in theaters. Surprisingly How to Train your Dragon quickly became one of my favorite kids films of all time. So fast forward several years to the present and I am incredibly hyped, but also tragically aware, that my excitement usually ends with mediocrity. Could Dreamworks capture the magic of the original again? After seeing How to Train Your Dragon 2 I can safely say that this sequel is better in almost every way than the original film, which is a rather bold statement I know.
How to Train your Dragon 2 follows an older Hiccup as he explores the world to find new dragons and lead them back to the safety of Berk. Berk has progressed in the way the first film showed it should. The people have stopped fearing dragons and have taken them in as pets and as companions. Hiccups own progression is astonishing for a kids film in its own right, not only did the original film have the guts to have its lead character lose a limb at the climax of the first film, but in its sequel Hiccup has aged. Its seems like an all to common theme for family films that the leads never develop which naturally allows for the younger audience to relate easier. How to train your Dragon 2 says to hell with that our audience has aged so we’ll age with them in a very realistic way, showing the tale of a teenager becoming a man, taking on responsibilities, developing his relationship with his future wife, etc.
Its refreshing to see a family film treat its audience with respect and allow the characters of the film to mature with its fans. Dragon 2 tackles more mature themes in its story as well, with family problems and the act of growing up and the film can get intense at times emotionally. Not since Lion King has there been a family film that’s gotten me misty eyed. Be warned, if you have ever had a pet, that the relationship between Hiccup and toothless will tug at those heartstrings. This great characterization is all put atop a beautifully shot film, one that at times made me feel like I was flying. This is a beautifully animated film, with some really impressive battle sequences to boot.
If audiences are to have a problem with this film there are only two possibilities I can think of that may detract from the experience. First comes a common issue with the original film, that being the main conflict. The villain here isn’t super interesting. While the antagonist is more fleshed out here than the giant dragon from the original, they are still quite shallow and not given enough back story to make them the great villain they could have been. There are strong moments where the villain comes off menacing and evil, but mostly it comes off as someone just wishing to cause trouble. However i’ll take what is on offer here over no villain or one that is far too over the top and comedic any day of the week. The second issue lies with some of the writing and the films dependency on its message. Hiccup tends to ramble on with some of his speeches a bit too much. There are a few times where he repeats a moral or two but that’s not saying they are poor speeches or that the message is bad, they can just feel a bit heavy handed at times.
— Conclusion —
Overall How to Train your Dragon 2 is an incredible film that I cannot praise enough. Its an impressive feat that, to add anything negative into a review, I have to think long and hard to find something that is more than likely trivial and is just nitpicking an otherwise near perfect experience. I will come right out an say that this is my favorite CGI family film since the original Toy Story, and honestly it may even surpass that as being my second favorite kids film of all time. Its a big statement but this is a movie that I can honestly say deserves that praise. Great characters, great story, amazing animation and just lots of fun, How to Train your Dragon 2 is a must see. So seriously if you haven’t seen it yet…..GO SEE IT. – Jeff
- + Beautiful Animation
- + Great character beats
- + Lots of heart
- – Message can feel forced