This one

This one I recommend.

Hiccup and Toothless; best of friends.

Hiccup and Toothless; best of friends.

An exciting and colorful flight.

An exciting and colorful flight.

Hiccup is back and his ability to handle dragons is even better in this follow-up to a lovable 2010 film that was all about people trying to fight dragons off. Now they’re essentially using them as pets.

How To Train Your Dragon 2 is further evidence that Dreamworks, the studio responsible for the woesome tragedies that are Shark Tale and Shrek The Third, is a more plentiful source of family-friendly Fantasy than it normally is of comedy. If it’s as good as the first one I am not sure, but good it certainly is.

Jay Baruchel once again voices Hiccup. He has gone from a nasally voiced wimpy Viking, to a nasally voiced TOUGH Viking that flies dragons – sometimes riding them, sometimes gliding beside them – and even teaches the rest of his clan to do the same. Their days are mostly comprised of flight races and games, but one day, when Hiccup and his girlfriend Astrid (America Ferrera) encounter a follower of a malevolent dragon hunter called Drago Bludvist (Djimon Hounsou), they learn of said villain’s plans to capture dragons for purposes of war and the obligatory world domination. This, of course, our heroes aim to stop.

They also meet a fierce dragon rider by the name Valka, voiced by Cate Blanchett. This woman, we find out, is Hiccup’s long-lost mother. I think I’m allowed to spoil that since the trailers were doing the same. The relationship and bonding between her and Hiccup might seem a clichéd storyline to some, but it’s executed fairly well here.

HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2

On the subject of characters, let’s look at the side-characters, because there are plenty and most of them are a significant magnitude of fun. There’s Gerard Butler, once again voicing the Viking chief Stoick, Craig Ferguson as Stoick’s closest friend, Jonah Hill as Hiccup’s dim-witted buddy Snotlout, Christopher Mintz-Plasse as the “funny fat guy” Fishlegs, T.J. Miller and Kristen Wiig as the two mischeavous twins, and Kit Harington of Game of Thrones fame as a dragon trapper who answers to Drago. Oh, and of course, how could I forget the adorable main dragon himself – Toothless?

How To Train Your Dragon 2 offers a tonful of excitement, humour, and some genuinely effective scenes where things take a turn for the more emotional and hearfelt. It’s even a little bit frightening at times, for children at least, but that’ll probably just entice them in the fun even more. It’s not as outright scarring or disturbing an animated film as Coraline; I can assure my readers that much.

The animation, as ever, is well-detailed and, perhaps most important of all, action-packed. These films have always been good at simulating the feeling of speed and intense movement, hence why I almost – only almost – find myself wishing I had seen the movie in 3D. For now, however, I’m fine with the crystal clear and crisp 2D.

One can spend hours watching any scene frame-by-frame to admire the subtle facial movements of Toothless and the details of his scales and eyeballs. A complaint I had on the last movie is that all of the dragons looked like generic Spore creations, but this time around we’re treated with a greater deal of clever and memorable designs. I very much enjoyed those blue fish-dragons with red eyes.

I give How To Train Your Dragon 2 an enthusiastic 4, and hope that this franchise won’t be milked beyond likability once it inevitably evolves into a trilogy. Or more.

4/5 whatever

Advertisements