Tuesday, June 17, 2014

[Review] How to Train Your Dragon 2

Picking up a few years after the last one, How to Train Your Dragon 2 opens in the island of Berk where the Vikings and Dragons are living in harmony, and the village is now dragon-proof (or as much as it's possible to dragon-proof something). Hiccup faces the pressures of becoming the town's new Chief, but he'd rather just roam around with Toothless, his faithful dragon companion. While he's out on an adventure, he happens upon a significant relative who has been gone for 20 years. This unlocks one of the film's many emotional avenues, along with some origin story. And history is on the verge of somewhat repeating itself, because a scary guy named Drago Bludvist is waging war and threatening the peace of not only humans, but dragons as well.

How to Train Your Dragon 2 doesn't quite reach the lofty heights of its predecessor (and those are VERY lofty heights), but it totally renders itself as a remarkably worthwhile sequel, expanding the world and advancing the story in a natural and compelling way, while also retaining a lot of elements that made the first one so fantastic. The visuals are dazzling, and the sky scenes of Hiccup and Toothless cruising through the clouds (accompanied by the gorgeous musical score) are major highlights. The variety of dragons is more vast this time around, and the designs are really creative. I noticed Guillermo del Toro received a shout in the Thank You credits. It doesn't say the exact reason, but the colossal Ice Dragon looks super Guillermo-ish.

Even though there are funny moments, the Dragon series is a bit light on the humor side, and it doesn't attempt to make you laugh every minute. Instead, there's more of a focus on character dynamics, especially Hiccup's relationships and how he develops amidst his surroundings. The story even journeys into some unexpectedly somber places, setting up some poignancy. There's also tons of heart here again. One of the things that gets you attached to this tale is that Toothless possesses the characteristics of a pet dog, and it's more prominent than ever.

With 22 Jump Street and How to Train Your Dragon 2 releasing, it's been a great week for sequels. (There's something I never thought I'd be saying.)


1 comment:

  1. Good review Zach. It’s a very emotional movie that makes it a bit better than the first. However, they’re both pretty fantastic in their own rights.