Movie Reviews

How to Train Your Dragon 2

Reviewed by: Scott Chitwood
Rating: 8.5 out of 10
Movie Details: View here

Cast:
Jay Baruchel as Hiccup (voice)
Cate Blanchett as Valka (voice)
Gerard Butler as Stoick (voice)
Craig Ferguson as Gobber (voice)
America Ferrera as Astrid (voice)
Jonah Hill as Snotlout (voice)
Christopher Mintz-Plasse as Fishlegs (voice)
T.J. Miller as Tuffnut (voice)
Kristen Wiig as Ruffnut (voice)
Djimon Hounsou as Drago (voice)
Kit Harington as Eret (voice)
Kieron Elliott as Hoark the Haggard (voice)
Philip McGrade as Starkard (voice)
Andrew Ableson as Ug (voice)
Gideon Emery as Teeny (voice)

Directed by Dean DeBlois

Summary:
Amazing 3D effects, production design, action, and a story with some depth make "How to Train Your Dragon 2" a great sequel that will please both adults and children. Definitely see it on the big screen in 3D.

Story:
Some years after the first film, the town of Berk is now fully integrated with the dragons. The dragons and Vikings mutually rely upon each other and a new era of peace has been achieved. This is thanks entirely to Hiccup and Toothless.

One day while exploring the furthest reaches of the known world, Hiccup and Toothless discover a group of dragon hunters led by Eret. He tells them of Drago, a ruthless warrior who not only knows how to control the dragons, but who is forming an invincible dragon army. And he is slowly making his way towards Berk.

Despite the warnings of his father Stoick, Hiccup goes on a mission to find Drago and show him that dragons and humans can peacefully co-exist. But along the way, he discovers someone from his past that will forever change his life and the fate or Berk.

"How to Train Your Dragon 2" is rated PG for adventure action and some mild rude humor.

What Worked:
"How to Train Your Dragon" came out of nowhere in 2010 and ended up being quite a pleasant surprise. Now years later, this sequel picks up where the original left off and further builds on this already impressive world.

One of the first things I noticed about "How to Train Your Dragon 2" was the production design. The costumes are stunning, the environments are beautiful, and the dragons continue to have amazing and imaginative designs. This whole film is just a perfect example of how to build a world. The land of Berk would fit in either "Star Wars" or "The Lord of the Rings." It's that impressive.

The next thing you notice is the 3D. It is used to stunning effect in this film. The flying scenes really pull you in and as Hiccup and Toothless soar above and through the clouds, you get a sense of flying right alongside them. This is a film where the 3D is worth the extra money. If you don't see it in 3D, you're not appreciating the full artistry put into it.

Combining the amazing production design and 3D is some very impressive action. The aerial battles are quite cool. The choreography as the dragons flying around obstacles or battle in the air should satisfy any action movie fan. But the creators take it even further as the dragons go to all out war in a battle that would make a hobbit head for the hills. If that wasn't enough, there is a giant dragon battle that even Godzilla would be hard pressed to win. In short, the action delivers at the level of any of the big summer action movies.

Fortunately, there's a solid story to back up all of the artistry and action. We see Hiccup progress as a character. His unwavering faith in people's ability to change is a great message for children. And as we learn about his past, we get a surprisingly deep story involving his father Stoick. It was a lot more emotional than I was expecting in what otherwise might be dismissed as kiddie fare. All of the original voice cast returns and they are all given moments for great jokes. Kristen Wiig as Ruffnut generates most of the laughs as she fawns over Kit Harington as Eret. New to the cast is Cate Blanchett as Valka. She does a fantastic job in the role and I have to admit that I would have loved to have seen her perform this character in live action. Also new is Djimon Hounsou as Drago. He did an amazing job and it's pretty cool to see him play the animated version of KISS' Gene Simmons. It just goes to show how great it is that animation allows anybody to play any character. I didn't know Hounsou had it in him.

I also have to give kudos to John Powell. He knocked the score out of the park yet again. It is thrilling, bombastic, and soaring. This is the kind of score that movie trailers will be borrowing from for years to come.

What Didn't Work:
The commercials actually spoil a big surprise about Cate Blanchett's character. It's such a big spoiler that even my 9-year-old son complained that the commercials ruined the surprise. I don't want to ruin it here for you, but I will say that one of my gripes about the film revolves around that spoiler. I felt like the revelation about her background let her off the hook way too easily for what she had done. There could have and should have been a bit more drama when it was revealed.

Fans of the TV series "Dragons: Riders of Berk" may be a little let down that there aren't more connections to the TV series. In one sense it's good that you can go into this film having seen nothing but the previous film, but for fans that have been along for the entire ride on the big screen and small screen, I expected them to add a little something.

Finally, my kids made me sit through the entire credits, while having to really go to the bathroom, in order to see if there was a post-credits scene. There wasn't.

The Bottom Line:
"How to Train Your Dragon 2" is a great film for both children and adults and a worthy successor to the previous film. It is well worth seeing on the big screen this summer.



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