How to Train Your Dragon 2
How To Train Your Dragon 2
Director: Dean DeBlois
Writers: Dean DeBlois, Cressida Cowell
Voice Cast: Jay Baruchel, Cate Blanchett, Gerard Butler, Craig Ferguson, America Ferrera, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, T.J. Miller, Kristen Wiig, Djimon Hounsou, Kit Harington, Kieron Elliott, Philip McGrade, Andrew Ableson, Gideon Emery
Synopsis: When Hiccup and Toothless discover an ice cave that is home to hundreds of new wild dragons and the mysterious Dragon Rider, the two friends find themselves at the center of a battle to protect the peace.
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for adventure action and some mild rude humor
DreamWorks' Dragons: Riders of Berk - The Official Trailer
- Excellent animation. Very well detailed
- Characters are written better in this sequel, as the main characters feel like actual characters rather than generic stereotypes.
- Story is surprisingly deep for animated feature, and serves as a great allegory for racism and prejudices in society.
- 3-D effects are great. Definitely worth the extra few bucks to see it in 3-D if you can afford it.
- Rotating camera shots show help immerse the audience into this fantasy world filled with dragons.
- Movie has plot points that most of today's animated features wouldn't dare try to pull off.
- Voice acting is great.
- If you haven't seen the first one, then you're going to be kind of lost when you watch this movie.
"How to Train Your Dragon 2" is everything the first movie wished it could be
As I told someone earlier this year, "How to Train Your Dragon 2" was going to have to be damn near perfect to beat out "The Lego Movie", in terms of overall quality. And, it looks like Dreamworks was ready to step up to the challenge of it's rival. Got the guts. Got the glory. Went the distance, and it's not going to stop. "How to Train Your Dragon 2" is literally a survivor.
As many of my older readers might know, I really didn't care much for "How to Train Your Dragon" the first time I watched it. It was mostly due to the fact that the film was riddled with various cliches that made it seem rather predictable and generic for my own personal tastes. Granted, there were some adult themes in it, as it served as an allegory for racism as JBunce pointed out in his review on Hubpages. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't oblivious to these themes either at the time, but I just felt the execution of the first movie wasn't handled all that well. If anything, I just found it to be a bit overhyped at the time. Having said all that, I will admit that the first movie has grown on me quite a bit. Granted, I'll never say the first "How to Train Your Dragon" is a great film, but I will say it's a fairly decent movie with a lot of potential, but it tends to get overshadowed by too many cliches and stereotypes that it becomes kind of generic. However, it's a fun movie though for what it is.
Now that we got that out of the way....lets get started with the review of "How to Train Your Dragon 2." The story essentially picks up several years after the first one. Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) is now a grown man, who's no longer the shy smart kid trying to find his place in the world. No, he's turned into an adventurous and confident young man, who's still trying to find his niche in the world. Granted, he's still the same quirky character we saw in the last film, but it's fairly obvious that Hiccup is all grown up both physically and mentally, by this point.
And to make matters interesting, it seems like Hiccup isn't the only one that's grown, since the last movie. For starters, Hiccup is now dating Astrid (America Ferrera) by this point, and they seem to make a perfect couple. Astrid seems to be a bit more developed by this point in the series.. She's quite charming, funny and supportive of Hiccup's endeavors, but she's not afraid of telling him the truth every now and then. When I see these two together, I genuinely buy them as a couple because of their chemistry together. They talk and joke with each other similar to how a real couple would, and it's interesting to see how much both of them have grown over the years.
Another thing that's changed is that Hiccup's father wants to him to become the new leader of the village, as he plans to retire fairly soon. However, Hiccup isn't sure if he's the right man for the job because he's not sure if he can fill his father's shoes. Instead, Hiccup would rather go out exploring with his pet dragon, Toothless. Hence, you have the personal conflict within the protagonist's desire to be his own man, but he's faced with the obligations of becoming an adult.
Although we've seen these types of stories before in other movies, "How to Train Your Dragon 2" handles it in a sincere way that it never feels like it's cliched, or contrived. The emotions of these characters go through are genuine, and the character growth of Hiccup is actually handled quite well in the sequel. Unlike the last film where it felt a bit cliched to see Hiccup's transition because it kept falling into all the usual tropes and stereotypes, this one handles it with a sense of subtlety and gravitas that's kind of deep for an animated family film.
In the first movie, Hiccup was portrayed as being the stereotypical dorky outcast, who had a crush on the hot girl. He was constantly feeling like he let down his overbearing father, who didn't seem to understand him. The father was nothing more than a stereotype of the overbearing father figure who meant well, but he didn't seem to understand his own son. Again, I'm not here to bash "How to Train Your Dragon", nor would I ever condemn anyone that loved the first one, but I'd be lying if I said the first film didn't have its share of problems.
In the new movie though, Hiccup's father isn't portrayed as just another run of the mill overbearing father figure this time around. In this new movie, he's portrayed as a man that wants to see his son take on the responsibility of taking over his legacy, as the village's new chief. And granted, he's still the same stubborn oaf that can sometimes allow his own sense of judgement to be overshadowed by his pride. However, we also see a sincere side to his character that wasn't present in the previous one. A part of his character that deeply makes him seem like an actual character rather than just a run of the mill stereotype. It's same story with Hiccup.
Sure, he's still the same socially awkward young man that we saw in the first one, but we also see a character that's more mature, and possesses a deep sense of morality. Hiccup isn't always in the right throughout this entire film, as there are moments where even he starts to have doubts about those that are close to him. Plus, we also see a lot of moments where his optimism about life can sometimes come off as a bit naïve; especially when he's faced against the realities of life itself.
Yet, he manages to find his own way. It's a refreshing take from the last movie, where HIccup was always in the right, but all he needed was the confidence to carry out his intentions. In this new adventure, Hiccup is a normal character that's relatable because even though he has a good heart, he's not always going to be right about everything. Like all of us, he too will lose his faith sometimes in others but in the end, he'll always figure out a way to pick himself back up. It's a great lesson to teach children, and it resonates well in this feature.
I especially loved some of the bold plot points that "How to Train Your Dragon 2" took on, as it's refreshing to see that animated family films can still contain a hint of tragedy that would easily rival most adult dramas.
Needless to say, "How to Train Your Dragon 2" features arguably the best story that I've seen so far this year for animated feature. It has heart, and it tells a deeply intricate story that serves as a perfect allegory for racism within society based on false assumptions; while also serving as a coming of age story as well involving our young hero, Hiccup.
As for the animation, "How to Train Your Dragon 2" has probably some of the best animation that I've seen in a cartoon before. The detail is stunning, and the rotating camera shots throughout this feature help immerse the viewers into this fantastical world filled with dragons. Add in the 3-D cinematography into the mix, and you have yourself arguably one of the most beautifully animated features of this year.
The voice acting is superb, and the jokes are funny. Although the jokes in "The Lego Movie" are still funnier, but "How to Train Your Dragon 2" still manages to have quite a few good jokes here and there, to break up some of the more dramatic moments.
In terms of entertainment value, "The Lego Movie" is probably the best in that department. But if we look at the overall package, then "How to Train Your Dragon 2" is by far the best animated feature of this year. It has everything you'd want from a great fantasy epic, and it features arguably one of the best stories that I've ever seen in a film before.
Although, I should advise readers to check out the first movie before seeing this one because if you don't, then a lot of the plot points in this aren't going to make any sense.
Overall, I'd say that "How to Train Your Dragon 2" is arguably the best animated feature of this year, and if you can see it in 3-D, then I'd highly recommend it. However, if you're not a fan of 3-D, then it's still worth checking out regardless.
How to Train Your Dragon 2 Trailer
© 2014 Steven Escareno
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