How to Train Your Dragon 2 Review
How to Train Your Dragon 2 is a 2014 animated fantasy film from DreamWorks Animation. It is directed by Dean DeBlois and stars Jay Baruchel, Cate Blanchett and Gerard Butler. It is the second entry in the franchise and one of the best animated sequels ever.
Five years have passed since the first movie and now dragons and humans live together peacefully. However, Hiccup now must face Drago Bludvist who is creating a dragon army and wants to conquer the dragons. He also meets his mother Valka. The story here is quite different from the original. Whereas the first movie was slower and relied more on drama, this one has more of an epic feel to it, the scope is much bigger and the stakes are much higher. And I loved that about it because sequels are supposed to be bigger and they are supposed to delve deeper into the mythology of the world and its characters. And this movie did just that which is why it is brilliant and a textbook example of how to do a sequel to an already great movie properly.
The character are amazing once again. And this is a perfect mix of old and new characters with familiar faces being well utilized and even more explored while the newly introduced characters are very well developed as well and they are all so memorable. Hiccup remains a fantastic main character and one of the best protagonists ever in an animated movie. He is again very realistic and also quite unique in his appearance and behavior, but still retains his heroic nature. I loved the choice to go five years into the future and this was perfect most of all for this character because he has aged now and not just in physical appearance (more on that later), but he also matured emotionally, but still his personality remains intact which is awesome. The filmmakers really know how to age the characters which is really admirable. And his conflict is very well realized.
Stoick is again so sweet and likable. The relationship between him and Hiccup remains fantastic, but the relationship between him and his wife is just so romantic and beautiful to behold. And yes, his death is just such a bold choice from the usually risk averse studio and I really appreciated it. That scene was so well crafted and instantly memorable. It is dramatic, powerful and just heartbreaking. Speaking of Valka, she is amazing and did not disappoint. Her relationship with her son is so well done and you can see that they are so alike. But she is also such a strong and unique female character and I loved how they portrayed her fascination with dragons and her backstory is so well done. Also, I really appreciated how they portrayed her as somewhat crazy and wild because that is very realistic given her dragon obsession. That whole theme of humans and animals getting along is once again very well put to use.
Gobber is so funny and everything he says is either adorable or hilarious. I loved his character once again and he remains the best sidekick of the series. However, his coming out scene is really subpar because it is hinted, but in such a subtle, awfully subtle way that not many people would get that. I appreciate that they went into that territory finally, but it was still such a weak way to do it.
Astrid is fine herself, but the relationship between the two is so strong as it continues to be understated and subdued which I love. As for the supporting characters, they are fine, but Ruffnut is the one who really surprised me as she was so funny. Her annoyance with her admirers is funny, but her infatuation with Eret and his muscles lead to so many hilarious moments and I really appreciate this franchise for being so mature. They not only have real consequences and death, but they also have gay characters and sexual humor which is impressive.
Eret is quite a good character. He is not that much used, but serves fine as the villain’s henchman. Speaking of the villain, Drago is great. His appearance is very creepy along with his voice and mannerisms, but I loved that he posed genuine threat to our heroes as he was quite capable. And he also has a fine backstory that ties well into his goal. The dragons are all amazing with Toothless being excellent. I loved that he was manipulated to kill Stoick as that created so much tension and lead to a great scene between him and Hiccup.
The acting is really good. Jay Baruchel continues to surprise me as he is so incredibly good in this role with some of the moments being very well acted on his part. Gerard Butler is very good, Djimon Hounsou did such a great job as the villain with his creepy voice and Cate Blanchett is also superb as she brought Valka wonderfully to life.
Now, let’s talk about the animation. How to Train Your Dragon 2 looks fantastic, that’s for sure. The animation here improved a lot from the last time and it’s always so polished and beautiful to look at. The scenery is absolutely gorgeous with the dragons and ice in particular being incredibly animated. The flying sequences are exquisite and so moving, but the character design is so strong. As I said before, Hiccup and everyone else aged and they did that wonderfully and in such a believable and realistic manner. The attention to detail is overwhelming from the clothes to the dragons to the landscapes all being superb and filled with realism.
The movie has its flaws which are small. One is that the movie is a but uneven because of all the subplots and action on screen. I would have liked to have seen more of the slower moments. And the action is a bit overwhelming later on. That is why the first ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ remains a better movie.
However, How to Train Your Dragon 2 is more entertaining of the two and definitely the more mature and more dangerous one. Also, that action is always phenomenally executed and so incredibly fun to watch, immensely intense and dramatic. And as for the slower moments, there are those present here with the mother-son reunion being a perfect scene, slow and poignant. The death of Stoick also lead to a wonderful funeral which is one of the most emotional moments here. The beginning is also really good. That sport looks too much like Quidditch from the Harry Potter series, but it is still fun.
The scene where Astrid mocks Hiccup by imitating his voice and arm movements is just brilliant and hilarious. The humor is really good and I laughed a lot during the movie. The fights are fantastic and so epic as is the whole movie. I loved how they incorporated the different dragons with the alphas being so cool and the different properties of Toothless being just awesome and well revealed. The movie is solidly paced and structured. The score is once again terrific! It was so beautiful at times and wonderfully accompanied those heartbreaking as well as dramatic moments. The ending in particular is superb. And I loved how the music is Celtic as it perfectly accompanies the time period. The dialogue is strong, the emotion is definitely there, the screenplay is sophisticated, it is unpredictable and bold and the action is very well executed. The movie is also epic, imaginative and ambitious and it wonderfully raised the stakes for the finale which I am anticipating a lot and I hope it is going to be as good as the first two. How to Train Your Dragon 2 is the finest film from DreamWorks Animation after the original’ How to Train Your Dragon‘ and this franchise is undoubtedly going to be one of the very best trilogies of all time.