Director: Dean DeBlois
Starring: Jay Baruchel, Cate Blanchett, Gerard Butler
My expectations for ‘How To Train Your Dragon 2’ – which I will call ‘HTTYD2’ from now on, for obvious reasons – were sky high after the immensely popular and visually stunning original back in 2010. I was curious to see how the characters have grown and whether or not the dynamics between the lead character Hiccup, and his father Stoick the Vast, had improved. With the first film being so amazing, I was unsure as to how the director could push this franchise to new heights. I was not left disappointed by ‘HTTYD2’, with the sequel proving itself to be just as exceptional as its predecessor, and at times, even excelling the original. ‘HTTYD2’ is beautiful, loaded with action and layered far deeper than I could have ever previously imagined.
This film takes place several years after the original, and Hiccup has grown from an awkward teenager to become a slightly less awkward man in his early twenties. He and his father now have a much better relationship, but it is far from perfect, with contrasting philosophies on the running of their village still proving divisive. When Hiccup encounters a group of hunters trapping dragons for a man named Drago Bludvist to add to his army, Hiccup obviously wants to confront Drago and find a peaceful resolution. Before any of this can happen however, Hiccup’s mother, who he presumed was dead, shows up and introduces him to what she’s been up to for the last twenty years. Together, Hiccup and his village must find a means to attain peace and ensure their survival, which has now been aided by these lovable dragons.
The ‘How To Train Your Dragon’ franchise’s strong point has never been the traditional villain. Drago Bludvist, in this movie, portrays the aggressive and violent leader of both man and dragon. Unfortunately, we only get a glimpse of who the man is and very little is revealed as to why he has become this evil foe. Drago certainly works as a villain; he is absolutely malevolent and a polar opposite to the character of Hiccup and his friends. However, overall I feel he was left underdeveloped. The only other issue with this film is that the musical score didn’t allow the film to evoke the same amount of emotion as the first film did. It lacked something and I think that’s why the film slightly disappointed in certain areas. This movie’s comedic tone also faltered on occasion. At times it works, but on the whole, it hasn’t matured along with all of the characters.
Enough negativity. The beauty of this film is that even with its few flaws, it is still remarkable. The visuals once more are breathtakingly beautiful and detailed. The action sequences are crisp and entertaining and more fluid than the original. Although we’ve seen multiple characters mature from the last time we saw them, there is always more room to grow into a well-rounded individual. This movie sets out with the intention of having these characters grow into different people, who are shaped by their past experiences and those who nurtured them. The conflict in this movie has improved too and there seems to be far more at stake for everyone involved. Several new characters are introduced and are quickly embraced because of their cause, or the ability to relate to people we know. Perhaps more surprising, were the effective social commentaries embedded deep within the film, providing insight on a beneficial and nurturing philosophy without being too overbearing.
‘HTTYD2’ takes a world filled with Vikings and dragons and pushes it to new levels. The world is a lot bigger than it was before and the dangers lurking within it are greater than we previously imagined. The visuals are still spectacular and at the top of the industry, and whilst the overall story may be a bit more frightening for its younger viewers, overall this sequel provided plenty of action, laughs, and that clever social commentary that many people can use today.