First of all, I adored the first How to Train Your Dragon movie, purchased the DVD and have watched it many times since. Dreamworks has a gift for making animated movies with genuine appeal for adults and How to Train your Dragon was right up there with all the incarnations of Shrek. So I was a bit nonplussed at the darker tone and more serious storyline in this second installment. Hiccup is growing up and while he’s still a loveable geek, he’s also a bit of an intrepid leader, much to the consternation and pride of his father, Stoick. The world around Berk has expanded, introducing new and sometimes nefarious characters, and the stakes are higher as a result. The themes of loyalty, family, trust and community are still present, but while the first movie flirted with what constituted a Happy Ending, this one breaks the tacit animated movie rule #1, Thou Shalt Have Everything Turn Out Perfectly In The End. But then I found out the director is doing a trilogy of How to Train Your Dragon movies and is trying to model them structurally on the classic Star Wars trilogy. Once I knew that, everything clicked into place and I understood. Like in The Empire Strikes Back, bad things, sometimes unthinkable things happen and the tone isn’t as lighthearted and full of one-liners as the original movie. But oddly enough, How to Train Your Dragon 2 isn’t as dramatic and moving as its predecessor. Part of the reason for this is the music, which is downright lackluster compared to the phenomenal score in the first movie. The vocal talent of the cast is superlative, and I particularly enjoyed Kit Harington’s performance (Eret) as well as Craig Ferguson’s reprise of the irrepressible Gobber. There’s lots to appreciate about this movie, but it just wasn’t as viscerally satisfying as the first one. There have been setbacks for our heroes, but I fully expect a triumphant conclusion in the third movie. All in all, highly enjoyable and definitely worth a solid four stars. – BETHANY
For more on the Dragon Riders of Berk, visit: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1646971/?ref_=nv_sr_1
The world of Berk.
Stoick the Vast is still, er, stoic. (Gerard Butler)
Astrid (America Ferrera) riding Stormfly.
Way to go, Astrid! Nab the guy when he’s nerdy and he grows up to be hot.
Well, that’s not freaky or anything …
Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and Toothless investigate the ice formation.
Kit Harrington as Jon Snow in Game of Thrones and as Eret, a disreputable and canny pirate in How to Train Your Dragon 2. (image found at pixshark.com)
That’s a lot of dragons.
Eeeeek. I don’t suppose those things are vegetarian…
Toothless makes a dragon friend.
Craig Ferguson and his character, Gobber. (image found at imgkid.com)
Photos courtesy of DreamWorks Animation, Mad Hatter Entertainment and 20th Century Fox (unless otherwise noted)