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

Stevennix2001's Rating:

10/ 10

Pros:


- 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.

Cons:


- 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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Comments 8 comments

dailytop10 profile image

dailytop10 2 years ago from Davao City

Hi!

I've seen the first one and I surprisingly enjoyed it along with my daughter. Or maybe it was because I was eating an overpriced theater popcorn while watching? By the way, sorry for not reading most of your hub since I don't want spoilers but I'm sure it's well written..haha. I'll be reading it once I've seen the movie. Thanks for sharing and have a great day!


Stevennix2001 profile image

Stevennix2001 2 years ago Author

Um...okay. Are you saying that I give away too much in my reviews? Don't worry. I won't be offended if you say that I do, nor am I offended by your comment. . I'm just asking because I do value constructive criticism, so that's why I'm asking.

To be honest, I usually try to give away as little as humanly possible in each review, as I try to only give away as much as you would probably get from watching the trailers alone. However, I am a bit rusty when it comes to writing these reviews, so maybe I'm a bit out of touch doing that.

However, I don't blame you if you want to see the film first because to be honest, that's usually what i do these days. I always find it best to see a movie first before reading a review on it because then it allows you to form your own opinion without any outside influences if that makes any sense. Anyway, you have a great day as well.


gposchman profile image

gposchman 22 months ago from San Francisco Bay Area

Steven Escareno, A really nice article. Clearly you are an excellent Hub writer. I have a couple of personal observations, mostly based on my own preferences.

I would have integrated the pictures throughout the article. I would have broken in down with subtitles in various sections, and I would have identifies sections as spoilers for people who want a review who haven't seen the movie.

Nice writing.

Gene Poschman


Stevennix2001 profile image

Stevennix2001 22 months ago Author

I'll definitely take your suggestion about breaking down my reviews into various sections with subtitles into consideration, but the reality is I like my reviews to be straight to the point. I don't know if you noticed this or not, but the two main film critics that I model my style after are actually Roger Ebert and Peter Travers. Granted, I do emulate other critics as well, but those are the main two; hence why I try to keep the format as simple as possible.

Therefore, I doubt I'll ever break down any of my reviews into various sections, but I have been prone to change my mind about things in the past, so you never know. A of right now though, I doubt I'll be doing that.

As for your other idea about posting pictures throughout my review, that might be a good idea that's worth looking into. I know Nickalooch and others do that on their reviews, so I'll keep that part of your suggestion into consideration. Although the only problem is that it might mess up on where I'll put my "Pros and Cons" list on my reviews, but I guess I can figure something out.

As for the spoilers , I literally just read this review about 3 times just now, and I couldn't see anything in it that would spoil the movie for anyone that hasn't watched the movie to be honest.

Therefore, I fail to see what you're talking about. Can you be more specific? Where exactly in this review did you feel I gave away too much information because I honestly don't see it. In fact, I didn't even say who the villain was, or even what the basic plot was even about. The closest that I could see was probably the part where I was comparing how Hiccup and his dad were portrayed here versus the first movie. But even then, it seemed like I was being rather vague about it best, as I didn't say exactly what happened to either character in the film itself, nor did I use any particular scene as an example to show what I'm talking about like I have done in the past.

Heck, I thought the trailers had way more spoilers about the movie than my review did, as I didn't even say what the basic plot was to begin with. Therefore, I fail to see what you're talking about. Maybe it's just me, but I don't see it. As i told the other person that commented earlier, I usually try not to give away any spoilers that would ruin the movie for people; hence I try not to give away anything more than what you might find in a trailer or a plot synopsis on imdb.

Normally I never give away any heavy spoilers in my reviews, and even when I do give away a spoiler, I do say stuff like "spoiler warning for the next two paragraphs" or something along those lines to warn people if I feel I'm about to say something that gives away too much of the film, but i fail to see how I did that here in this review because nothing I said in this review spoiled anything for the reader.

Can you please tell me exactly what part of this review spoils too much of the film for you? I didn't ask the other person this simply because they admitted during the comment that they didn't even bother reading my review, and they just assumed i spoiled the entire movie for them, so I'm asking you.


gposchman profile image

gposchman 22 months ago from San Francisco Bay Area

With regards to spoilers, I was reacting to the first comment, more than the fact you actually had a spoiler. What I like about your review is the depth, and the first commenter had acknowledge he had not read your review for fear of spoilers. Upon rereading your article, I really didn't find any spoilers. My comment should have clearer on that point. It is a shame the first commenter hadn't read you review in total, I believe he would have enjoyed it. I agree about imbd, so when I read them I am prepared for spoilers.

Since you do announce spoilers, my comment about them was unnecessary.

I haven't seen How to Train Your Dragon 2 yet, and I am looking forward to seeing it. While I don't always see a movie based upon reviews I do like to see what others think. It also helps to read reviews decently done that are not hack jobs because the reviewer in in love with a negative writing style.

If possible you may be able to separate sections of your review where images would fit with what's to come. An initial image at top, Your Introduction with pros and cons, and then images spaced based upon your review.


Stevennix2001 profile image

Stevennix2001 22 months ago Author

Hmm that's an interesting idea. I'll have to keep that under advisement. Although I might just wait until after I get done reviewing my movies for the Oscars this year. After that, then I'll definitely look into doing something similar to what you just described. As far as spoilers go, I will say to be fair I know a lot of my earlier reviews did heavily sink into spoiler territory, so the other commenter might have been worried that this review would end up like my earlier ones.

At which case, i can't really blame them. However, I've been trying to work on that to where I try to avoid spoilers if I can help it. As far as your comment about critics having a negative writing style, I have heard similar criticisms about critics before which is why I try to be fair and balanced in my reviews. However, I do get criticized for that too. lol

For instance. A friend of mine said my reviews would be a lot more interesting if I ranted and b**ched about movies that I hated with a passion, as he said that part of the reason he loves movie reviews is to hear the reviewer rant about them; even if they happen to be b**ching and moaning about a movie that he liked.

I tried to tell him that while I too find rant reviews to be very funny to read and watch, but I told him that I don't want to be like every other critic out there. I'm not trying to be like everyone else, but rather I want to be the best, while finding my own unique style. And in order to do that, I have to not only try to force myself to learn from others, but I have to learn from their mistakes as well.

Granted, there are some reviews that I try to show emotion towards if the movies that I dislike, but I usually try to be fair about it. Of course, when my friend heard that, he was like.."Those people don't read or watch film reviews that often, so you shouldn't listen to them." Although I tend to disagree with that. Granted, I do agree with my friend that all a review is nothing more than an opinion, and it's still effectively my own.

However, i don't really see why that opinion can't be fair and balanced enough to weigh both the good and bad about a movie. Plus, it seems like some film critics tend to judge a movie based on what they want to see versus just judging it based solely on what it is. Don't get me wrong, I used to fall into that trap too a lot when i first started out, but I've been trying to avoid that as well in recent years.


gposchman profile image

gposchman 22 months ago from San Francisco Bay Area

While I have not read all your reviews, the ones I have read seemed balance, and I know that if a movie is well done you want to cheer, but if it stinks, well one wants to find a cleaver way of expressing, and I do enjoy a good turn of a phrase.

But what of guilty pleasures, movies you enjoy, and you know the film making was not the best but you had a really good time anyway.

On a closing note, I once read or saw, it was a long time ago, an interview with John Huston, and he said that a great film was one with a couple truly memorable and great scenes and no bad ones. Food for thought.

Gene Poschman


Stevennix2001 profile image

Stevennix2001 21 months ago Author

I honestly used to think that way too about what makes a great movie, but we have to remember even bad films can have memorable scenes too. Take "Joe Dirt" for instance. That movie was chalked full of memorable moments, yet it's probably one of the stupidest comedies that I've ever seen, which is exactly why it's funny to watch too. lol. Yeah it's funny you should mention "guilty pleasure' films, as I have actually written an ongoing series on that. I was going to write a few more chapters to it, but your more than welcome to read the ones that i have published thus far:

http://hubpages.com/entertainment/Top-Ten-Guilty-P...

http://hubpages.com/entertainment/Top-Ten-Guilty-P...

http://hubpages.com/entertainment/Top-Ten-Guilty-P...

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