Review – How to Train Your Dragon 2

Poster for 2014 animated comedy sequel How to Train Your Dragon 2

Genre: Animation
Certificate: PG
UK Release Date: 4th July 2014
Runtime: 102 minutes
Director: Dean DeBlois
Writer: Dean DeBlois
Starring: Jay Baruchel, America Ferrera, Cate Blanchett, Gerard Butler, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Kit Harington, Kristen Wiig 
Synopsis: The new dragon-friendly society in Berk is threatened by an evil leader who wants to control the creatures for his own gain.

 

In 2010, How to Train Your Dragon shocked just about everyone by proving that DreamWorks could be every bit as good as Pixar. It also happened to make almost $500m at the worldwide box office, ensuring the inevitable franchise expansion. Without the shock factor and with a new weight of expectations, How to Train Your Dragon 2 still manages to be an entertaining summer movie for the kids.

Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) is enjoying the utopian new world in Berk, with his dragon Toothless,  girlfriend Astrid (America Ferrera) and father (Gerard Butler) helping him keep the dragon-friendly society in place. During an exploration one day, he meets dragon hunter Eret (Kit Harington) and later stumbles upon a shocking figure from his past (Cate Blanchett).

How to Train Your Dragon 2 is a solid attempt at completing the difficult second movie in any well-received franchise. The voice cast remain charming and funny, aided by writer-director Dean DeBlois’ brave decision to age up his characters, which is very unusual in animated sequels.

| "Life here is amazing. Dragons used to be a bit of a problem. But now they’ve all moved in."

The film’s visuals are also a real highlight. How to Train Your Dragon 2 is visually breath-taking, from the subtle aging detail on the characters to the genuinely exhilarating flight scenes.

Unfortunately, How to Train Your Dragon 2 often feels like it’s going through the motions in a way that the first film never did. It is entertaining enough, amusing and well-constructed, but it fails to work the emotions like the first film could. Even the third act dragon fighting feels as if it could’ve been lifted from any middle-of-the-road movie, utterly failing to do anything new or interesting.

As a result, the film feels slightly flat, despite an interesting plot and the excellent addition of Cate Blanchett’s Valka, who is a mysterious figure from Hiccup’s past. Blanchett’s performance is perfectly delicate and her relationship with Hiccup is genuinely touching. However, the revelation of her identity was blown by almost all of the trailers, robbing the film of a potentially excellent rug pull.

| "A man who kills without reason cannot be reasoned with."

How to Train Your Dragon 2 will certainly do well enough to get a green light for the threequel, and that’s no bad thing. With the tough second film out of the way, DeBlois is free to branch out the universe created in Cressida Cowell’s books.

 

Pop or Poop?

Rating: Pop!

How to Train Your Dragon 2 is  good film that probably should’ve been excellent. With the genius of the first movie fresh in the mind, the sequel feels like slightly lazy work.

However, there’s a lot to be positive about. Minor characters continue to entertain with beefed-up roles and the visuals are genuinely excellent.

It’s a movie that kids will love and adults will tolerate, but its greatest achievement is simply to keep momentum for one of the most interesting animated franchises in Hollywood.

 

Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.

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