How To Train Your Dragon 2 (2014)

dragon 2 poster

Dragons have always been seen as these large, fire-breathing beasts that reign terror on helpless villages. They’re cruel creatures that have no emotion and will kill without a second thought. Well, that’s the way most dragons are depicted. Some, however, are loving creatures that are seeking love and companionship from those who are willing to look past their unique abilities. Can you imagine flying on the back of a dragon, thousands of feet above the Earth? It all sounds very nice and exhilarating, while also being a fun twist on the stereotypical stories we’ve grown accustom to.

Hiccup and Toothless go into stealth mode.
Hiccup and Toothless go into stealth mode.

Five years after forming their bond, Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and his dragon Toothless are closer than ever and they’ve inspired the unity between vikings and dragons on the island of Berk. While everyone is playing games and having fun, Hiccup and Toothless are off exploring and mapping the world. Hiccup’s bride-to-be, Astrid (America Ferrera), joins him in his search for the new world and somewhat sympathizes with Hiccup’s situation. Hiccup’s father, Stoick (Gerard Butler), wants him to take over as Chief of Berk, but he’s more concerned with dragons that are being hunted and forced to join a supposed army.

A man named Drago (Djimon Hounsou) is building a large army and Hiccup believes that he can stop him. With the help of his friends Snotlout (Jonah Hill), Fishlegs (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), Tuffnut (T.J. Miller), and Ruffnut (Kristen Wiig), Hiccup travels out to sea to find Drago, but is instead captured by some dragon master. On the brink of war, Hiccup is off learning more about dragons and how to better the relationship between man and dragon.

Astrid attempts to calm down Hiccup.
Astrid attempts to calm down Hiccup.

How To Train Your Dragon 2 had a lot to live up to, as How To Train Your Dragon was one of my favorite films in 2010. It was a film that I was reluctant to see, but I’m so thankful that I did! Now, I’m pleased to say the sequel delivered on almost every single level and managed to find a unique and separate voice of its own. Ranging from wildly entertaining, to breathtakingly touching, this film will resonate well with every age group and leave you feeling satisfied after many laughs and some good tears.

The voice acting and animation in this film… Good lord is it fantastic! DreamWorks has really outdone themselves this time around, as everything looks so crisp and detailed, from the Dragon’s scales to Hiccup’s facial hair. The scenery and stylized shots in this film are so different from others of its kind and it really makes a large impact on the overall feel and scope of this film. Jay Baruchel is funny and sweet as Hiccup, but Gerard Butler really impressed me with perhaps his softest performance yet. He can be loud and war-like, but he also has touching moments with cracks in his voice and sorrow in his heart. All the supporting characters’ voices are what make them so enjoyable, despite their not doing much.

Toothless has a new friend.
Toothless has a new friend.

While the first film was more about befriending the Dragon’s and proving that people can change if they see that there’s good in all, this sequel focuses more on Hiccup and his relationships with the people around him. His father expects him to take our as Chief and that causes tension that he whines about to his bride-to-be. He also focuses his time on Toothless, his best friend and most trusted ally. There’s a huge familial side to this film that anyone can relate to and it brought flutters to my heart and tears to my eyes at just the right times. The characters feel real and the Dragon’s are humanized beyond belief and you grow to love all the different types and grow curious as to what they can do. You care about everything and I absolutely loved that I could connect so well with nearly every part of this wonderful film.

MUSIC!!! Music can make all the difference in a film and it certainly heightened the overall feel here. John Powell‘s score is absolutely beautiful and it helps evoke the mood of every single scene. At times, the score can be growing loud and powerful as the battles rage on. At other times, the soft and sweet score can emphasize the familial relationships that blossom on-screen. There’s a certain song in the middle of the film that wrecked me emotionally and I still can’t get it out of my head. This is the kind of soundtrack that you add to your collection as soon as you leave the theater. It’s really something special and it’s one of the biggest things that helps make this sequel so special.

Drago means business.
Drago means business.

For the most part, my issues with this film are minor. I don’t think this film is as good as its predecessor, but it has many moments that exceed some of the best in the first. I didn’t much care for any of Hiccup’s friends, despite their hilarious voice actors. They’re really just their for comic relief, but they always show up at the wrong moments and don’t even add much to the humorous side of this film. They just state observations and obsess over good-looking people and it gets old rather quickly. Other than that, I also didn’t like that Astrid isn’t given nearly as much screen time as she deserves. The film sets her up as Hiccups girlfriend/fiance, but she’s absent for the entire second act of the film and even when she comes back, she doesn’t get much exploration.

Though it’s not quite as good as the first, How To Train Your Dragon 2 manages to create a beautiful and emotional story that works wonders for its audience. The kids watched in disbelief, while the older members of the audience whipped their eyes and felt the hairs on their arms stick up. I was floored by the superb animation and story that this film was able to present so wonderfully and I’ve no doubt that this is going to be in my top animated films by the year’s end. It’s fun for all and teaches a lot of important messages that never feel forced, or overwhelming. Bring the family and have an outstanding time!

How To Train Your Dragon 2 Trailer
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uLBmHtI5KfM

4.5 STARS!!!

4.5 / 5 stars     

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