How to Train Your Dragon 2

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Posted June 12, 2014 by in

Rating

Total Score
 
 
 
 
 

4.5/ 5

Quick Stats

Genre: animation, fantasy
 
Director: Dean DeBlois
 
MPAA Rating: PG
 
Actors: Jay Baruchel, Cate Blanchett, Gerard Butler
 
Length: 102 minutes
 
Release Date: 6/13/2014
 
Studio: DreamWorks Animation, Mad Hatter Entertainment
 
 
What We Thought

Captures the joy of flight in state-of-the-art animation.

by Daniel Hodgson
Full Article
It’s been five years since scrawny Viking teenager Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) forged an unlikely friendship with Toothless, a fire-breathing dragon.   Now, the entire village of Berk lives in harmony with the scaly beasts, riding them like horses—who can fly!
     How to Train Your Dragon 2 captures the joy of flight, its freedom, its exhilaration. It’s like something out of a Hayao Miyazaki film, such as the classic Porco Rosso.  It shares the acclaimed animator’s sense of whimsy and wonder.  There are dragons of every size and color.  Thin ones, fat ones, two-headed ones.  They’re as playful as puppies, as just as adorable.
     While out flying with Toothless, Hiccup comes upon Eret (Kit Harington), a dragon trapper who tries to take Hiccup’s faithful friend from him.  Eret works for Drago Bludvist (Djimon Hounsou), a vicious warlord who’s raising an army of dragons.  Hiccup and Toothless easily escape Eret, and head back to Berk to warn his father Stoic (Gerard Butler).
     Stoic prepares to fortify the village, but Hiccup wants to meet with Drago and talk it out.  Stoic, however, knows that there are some men who cannot be reasoned with; he’s met Drago before, and barely escaped with his life.
     The animation is state-of-the-art, and brings the band of Vikings and their dragons to life.  The textures and backgrounds are as detailed as anything out there, equaling—if not exceeding—anything Pixar has done to date.  The characters are so expressive, so alive, especially the likable Hiccup, who gestures and stumbles like an awkward geek.
     I almost never say this, but the 3D is actually worth it.  The format immerses you in shots of Toothless diving towards the ground, through throngs of Vikings battling one another.  Hiccup has fashioned a wing suit for himself, and watching him soar through the clouds is best experienced with the 3D glasses.
     It’s summer spectacle entertainment done terrifically well, but beneath its surface, the story is about a family that’s trying to come together again.  Stoic doesn’t listen to Hiccup, but the fact is, Hiccup is just as stubborn.  The film is about a family learning to communicate with one another, an important value for both parents and children.
     The plot is tight, focused, and doesn’t waste time on subplots like recent animated fare.  It’s a brisk 102 minutes, but feels much shorter.  Even so, it doesn’t gloss over the death of an important character, but takes time to mourn him in a deeply emotional, beautiful scene.  We’re talking Bambi sad, here.  But then the film picks right back up for an exciting climax.
     So far, this will easily be the rival for The Lego Movie for Best Animated Film come Oscar time (though whether that’s still true after Boxtrolls, we’ll have to wait and see).  The original How to Train Your Dragon was the studio’s best work, and the sequel is a worthy successor, with a third one to follow.  It can’t come out soon enough.

About the Author

Daniel Hodgson

Daniel has a degree in film from the University of Texas at Austin, and writes about himself in the third-person, because that's the fashion.

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