How to Train Your Dragon 2 (2014)
Editor’s Notes: How to Train Your Dragon 2 opens in wide release today, June 13th.
It’s been four years since we were introduced to Hiccup and Toothless, the two behind perhaps the greatest tale about a boy and his dragon. In How to Train Your Dragon, the two of the overcame insurmountable odds to convince their village and humans and dragons could co-exist in harmony instead of fighting each other. Now, in How to Train Your Dragon 2, that peace has been found and suited. Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and Toothless explore more out of Berk, to see what else the world has in store, and while they find beauty, they also find heartache. A professional dragon wrangler named Eret (Kit Harington) aims to capture all their dragons for his boss, a mysterious man named Drago (Djimon Hounsou) that plans to do something unspeakable with something known as a ‘dragon army.’ Hiccup find a way to reason with Drago, while refusing his father Stoick’s (Gerald Butler) wishes and coming across a stranger from his past (Valka, voiced by Cate Blanchett).
How to Train Your Dragon 2 achieves a level of wonder on a ferocious level, and it’s a sight to behold and beckon to.
I can’t imagine being Dean DeBlois, the co-writer and co-director of the first installment (who also co-directed Lilo and Stich) in between 2010 and this year. How to Train Your Dragon was not only a huge success at the box office, but he and fellow writer/director Chris Sanders brought Cressida Cowell’s book series to a light so bright and provocative that it easily secured its spot as a must-see in the animation world. A franchise was inevitable, but things took an interesting turn, to say the least, when Sanders left to head up the possible Croods franchise. DeBlois has never flown solo before, and being given the task to follow up with a film like How to Train Your Dragon is something that should only be wished on the strongest and bravest of filmmakers. Well Deblois, thank you. Thank you for now showing the world the will of your true power.
How to Train Your Dragon 2 achieves a level of wonder on a ferocious level, and it’s a sight to behold and beckon to. In keeping with the spirit of the first installment, it finds a sustainable balance of humor, horror and tenderness, and infuses new elements such as humanity and even rage. Cowell’s books have shown us a potential for a new universe, and now its cinematic journey is looking like the possibilities for excellent could be endless. The first installment was a great stepping stone, and now we’re brought to the forefront of spectacular filmmaking. A lot more is greasing the gears here, with subplots that have been made apparent in the trailers, and a couple of surprises. The shove to make the characters and events age appropriately (instead of keeping the circumstances and the character’s ages the same) was the first proper step, and with aging comes more influence. Cue the excellent ensemble work by our voice actors, with major props going to Blanchett for completely consuming her role. The major standout, as before, is Baruchel taking a commanding lead as the film’s heart and soul. HIccup’s journey through the huge life lesson trail gets so bumpy, and it’s inspiring to hear Baruchel use his voice to tell the story of a boy becoming a man while keeping his emotional integrity.
In keeping with the spirit of the first installment, it finds a sustainable balance of humor, horror and tenderness, and infuses new elements such as humanity and even rage.
The film goes into dark terrain, and gets scary almost fast, but the magic is never lost. DeBlois uses the characters and his own highly honed-in sense of direction & screenplay as tools in a battle that cannot be won without giving it your all. At times it’s even worth asking if this is appropriate for kids. Is it too scary for them? Will they understand? Maybe, maybe not. But at the end of the day, if you want your children to know what a film, animated or otherwise, should truly look and feel like then it’s worth accomplishing these vikings and dragons along for their ride. And in return, you’ll experience the best film of 2014 so far.
How to Train Your Dragon 2 is more than a sequel or a continuation in an evitable franchise, it’s a journey through what makes you tick. Every single emotion will be tested here, and tested wonderfully.