Sunday, June 15, 2014

How To Train Your Dragon 2

Year: 2014
Director: Dean DeBlois
Voice cast: Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, Cate Blanchett, Djimon Hounsou, Craig Ferguson, America Ferrera, Kit Harington

Plot: The Vikings of Berk and dragons now live side by side thanks to Hiccup. However, a reunion with his long lost mother and the appearance of a deadly adversary may force the young lad to finally take charge of his life and shoulder the responsibility he thought he wasn't ready for.

Review: The sequel to the highly successful How To Train Your Dragon (HTTYD) turned out to be a nice surprise, because it's usually hard for a sequel to follow up and be as good as its predecessor.

Dean DeBlois, co-director of the first film and Cressida Cowell, writer of the HTTYD books, have come up with a winner here, especially in terms of plot and characters. Where the first film dealt with father son relationships and the idea of not judging a book by its cover, HTTYD2 focuses on friendship, family and responsibility.

Hiccup and his dragon Toothless are as tight as ever, living happily on Berk with his father Stoick and the rest of the Vikings. One day, he unexpectedly runs into his long thought dead mother Valka, whom he learns is an excellent dragon rider like him. While the boy is glad that his family is complete at last, he doesn't have time to celebrate when a bad man named Drago Bludvist, enters the picture. Drago captures dragons with a purpose: to turn them into an army, and he has his sights on Berk.

As before, the animation here is pretty good. This is most evident during flying sequences with Hiccup and Toothless, with the movements looking smooth and the background sky looking beautiful. The scene where Hiccup finds his mother's location amongst the dragons is also cool, the scenery is just lovely.

But the story and characters are where the film thrives the most. Hiccup, still a stubborn believer, learns a thing or two as the film progresses, about his mother, about dragons and how he must grow up whether he's ready or not. The villain Drago is also an inspired creation, being one who is dead serious and not the kind prone to comedic attempts like most animated films out there. Drago's resolve and dangerous skills make him a formidable opponent for our hero, and I welcome that.

There are a couple of things that I didn't dig, like Hiccup's girlfriend Astrid and his friends being either underused or misused. For example, one of the Viking twins has a crush on Eret, a dragon trapper, and they milk this joke one time too many. Then there's the brief song and dance number in the middle of the movie which I didn't care for, but I understood the reason for it being there. Some of the dragon sequences can be hard to follow too, since there can be too many dragons flying in the same frame at once. But these are minor complaints.

I had a lot of fun with HTTYD2, which continues the momentum generated by the first instalment. There will certainly be a HTTYD3 coming up, and it would almost surely be great too. Recommended. (4/5)

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