Film Review: How to Train Your Dragon 2 (2014)

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Starring the voices of: Jay Baruchel, America Ferrera, Gerard Butler, and Cate Blanchett; Directed by Dean DeBois

After Dreamworks’ massive  success with the 2010 original, it was obvious there would be a sequel, especially with a whopping 12 books in the series the films were loosely inspired by.

This time around, the small Viking village of Berk is far more accepting of dragons, with the majority of the village having their own dragon partners. This leads to a lengthy period of peace for the village, causing many of the young side characters of the first to engage in a regular sport of Dragon Racing, while Hiccup and his partner Toothless go out testing new inventions and exploring.  One day, after a risky encounter with some dragon hunters working for the dreaded Drago Bludvist, Hiccup encounters his long lost mother (voiced by Cate Blanchett), who has been hiding and nurturing a whole mini-nation of dragons…

By and far, this film has a lot of steps up from the first, metaphorically sanding down the rough edges it had, especially in the scripting and visuals departments.  The scriptwork is excellent for the most part, though it does call back to the first film more times than I would have preferred. Emotionality and familial depth take center stage in the sequel, with the stuff relating to the dragons being bumped to the side every now and again.

On the visual side of things, they look fantastic. The flight scenes are even more amazing this time around, and everything is way more detailed than the first. The designs of the dragons are both more beautifully detailed and varied this time around.  Personally I disliked every dragon design in the first besides Toothless, and this film actually remedies that with way more cool designs, like the alpha dragon, also known as the BewilderBeast.Unlike the first, which I recently re-watched, the resolution will likely be absolutely glorious when this film is inevitably released on Blu-Ray.

Hiccup and Toothless face off against Drago's Bewilderbeast
Hiccup and Toothless face off against Drago’s Bewilderbeast

Character-wise, the film is rather hit-or-miss. Hiccup continues to be pretty well-defined and complex, as is his relationship with Stoick, his father. Other characters, like all the sidekicks from the first film, and Eret, a roguish dragon hunter and new character, are pretty simplistic, receiving screentime only to deliver some weak jokes and gags.

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Hide your dragons, otherwise, they’re Drago’s now…

Somewhere in the middle, though, is Djimon Hounsou’s Drago Bludvist, a new villain intent on capturing and controlling the entirety of the world’s dragons. While the voice-acting and character design is top notch, which Hounsou’s naturally deep voice becoming even more gravelly and intimidating, his character development is restricted to a lop-sided hatred of dragons.

Overall, the film has a few light weaknesses, but it doesn’t hinder the total greatness this film achieves, making it well worth a…

Legendary

9/10 Well trained but mischievous dragons! 

 

 

 

 

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