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How To Train Your Dragon 2 Movie Review

How to Train Your Dragon 2
How to Train Your Dragon 2
How to Train Your Dragon 2

Posted June 17, 2014 by

I feel like I need to preface this review with a confession about myself and the How To Train Your Dragon series. I love them. Why? I don’t exactly know, but I’m guessing it has to do with my love of dragons when I was younger. In essence, Hiccup, the main character of the series, is exactly what I always secretly hoped I’d turn out like. Confident but scrawny, brave but not stupid, lovable, without sacrificing my pride. Hiccup is one of the best animated heroes in film history and Jay Baruchel, who I have admired for a while, does a fantastic job bringing depth and emotion to the character. In all honesty, this series is one of the few that I have some issue separating my own personal satisfactions with how good the films technically are.

Watch the First 5 Minutes of ‘How to Train Your Dragon 2’

How to Train Your Dragon 2 (HtTYD2), picks up 5 years after the first film, with Hiccup and his motley crew of dragon riders coming into young adulthood. A landlocked society that once feared and slayed dragons now lives with them quite peacefully with respect and grace. Stoic (Gerard Butler), remains the leader of the viking village, going about his daily routines and starting to prepare Hiccup for the role of chief when the time comes. Of course, Hiccup is less enthused about becoming chief than his father is, and in a typically goofy scene Hiccup tries to explain to Stoic why he’d never make a good chief. Hiccup wants to explore, to grow and enjoy his life. He doesn’t want the burden of responsibility for the lives of all his friends and neighbors.

Unfortunately for Hiccup, trouble is brewing, as a terrible man known as Drago Bludvist (Djimon Hounsou), is attempting to create the worlds only dragon army. This is a fairly typical set up for any animated film. Good vs. evil, right vs. wrong, growing up vs. staying a child. All the ingredients are here for a somewhat cheesy rehash of the first film. Luckily HtTYD2 isn’t content with being just another sequel. It introduces some great new characters, such as Hiccup’s mother, Valka (Cate Blanchett). Valka is, for lack of a better description, a complete and utter badass. We find out during a flashback why she had to leave Stoic and her new born son Hiccup many years ago, and since then she has been living with and protecting about 1,000 dragons, including one of the Alpha dragons, which have the ability to control smaller dragons. The alphas are truly something to admire, as they don’t exactly look like dragons, but offer an exceptionally cool design as opposed to the normal, dime store dragons you see in many other films.

I don’t want to give much of the story away. Part of what makes this film such an intense and satisfying sequel is the amount of surprising and jaw dropping moments. The colors are vibrant, the emotions resonant, and the action is top notch, edge of your seat exciting. I must say that seeing it in a theater full of little children may not have been ideal, some of the themes and scenes in this movie will likely go over the younger kids’ heads, causing them to get fidgety. This was the case for a ton of kids in my audience, but many of the adults and older kids seemed to be on the edge of their seats like I was. It’s not that the movie is mature exactly, but the creators definitely took some larger risks and explored heavier themes such as death, and the idea of free will vs control.

I can’t say for sure if the sequel surpasses the first film. In my mind any great sequel should feel more like a continuation than as a one off money grab. The series has been planned for a trilogy, but at this point I’d be happy to see it go even further along than that. What it comes down to is that the makers obviously have a love and care for their characters, as evidenced by the 4 years in between this and the first film. Instead of slapping something together as a quick cash maker, director Dean DeBlois and company took their sweet time, and I for one believe that it was well worth the wait. Few sequels are this good, and I feel pretty safe in saying it’s probably my favorite animated sequel in at least a decade. If you are an adult and have kids take them to see these excellent films. If you don’t have kids, give them a try any ways. I am willing to be that, like me, you will find them endearing and heartfelt.

Grade = A-