Friday, 4 July 2014

How To Train Your Dragon 2 (2014)

Considering How To Train Your Dragon was one of my favourite animated movies in recent years, my expectations were high for this sequel. Some early glowing reviews pushed those expectations even higher. While I disagree with some who think that this is even better than the first movie, I have to say that it comes pretty close (in fact, I rate it equally). I left the cinema happy, looking forward to whenever I get to watch it again in the comfort of my own home.

All of the main cast members return in a story that picks up, of course, some time after the events of the first movie. The island of Berk is now a bit of a dragon haven since everyone has been shown the way forward by young Hiccup (Jay Baruchel). In fact, most of Hiccup's friends enjoy spending their days dragon racing, with sheep being collected for points, while our hero disappears to fly around the clouds with Toothless, mapping out other territories. On one of his journeys, Hiccup finds out that a ship full of heavies are hunting dragons to take back to the fearsome Drago Bludvist (Djimon Hounsou). Drago wants to build, and lead, a dragon army. As if that wasn't enough to process, Hiccup also meets his mother (Cate Blanchett), a woman thought dead for years and years.

Taking a darker path than the first movie, How To Train Your Dragon 2 is, consequently, ever so slightly less fun. That's not a major problem, however, as everything is mixed together so perfectly. The characters are all as enjoyable to spend time with as they were the first time around, the dragons are just as colourful and cute as ever (and sometimes fierce), and the animation is just about as gorgeous as you can get.

Director Dean DeBlois, who also wrote the script based on the book series by Cressida Cowell, does a fantastic job, exploring themes of responsibility, treachery and loss this time around. The film has a number of emotional ups and downs, but it's all pitched perfectly at the level of the target age group.

The vocal cast all do a great job again, for the most part. Baruchel is good fun, joined once more by America Ferrera, T. J. Miller, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, and Kristen Wiig. Gerard Butler and Craig Ferguson also return as, respectively, Stoick (Hiccup's father) and Gobber. Hounsou is an impressive villain, truly mean and menacing whenever he's onscreen. The only voice that doesn't quite work is Blanchett. I get what she's going for, but it just ends up coming out as a bit of a garbled mess, to my ears.

I don't think I can adequately convey how much love I have for these movies. They get everything right. Everything. Even in my late thirties, I now want a dragon. I want to fly through the air, skimming the tops of clouds as I go. I want to be just like any one of the good-natured dragon riders shown onscreen. If that is how I feel when watching the movies then I can only guess how they fire up the imaginations of the kids watching everything onscreen.

Even in the densely-populated field of quality animated movies, this soars above the rest.


Please feel free to remember me whenever you're visiting Amazon and see my book there.

The UK version can be bought here -

And American folks can buy it here -

As much as I love the rest of the world, I can't keep up with all of the different links in different territories, but trust me when I say that it should be there on your local Amazon.

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