Director: Dean DeBlois
Release Date: 13 June 2014
Running Time: 102 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG
Editorís Rating: 4 out of 4 stars
The return to Berk is a welcome one.How to Train Your Dragon was one of the most successful movies of 2010, even if the core story wasnít much different from your average kids movie. However, the way it was presented, the style, the humor, and the unique interpretation of Norse life was charming and memorable. The top-notch voice acting was well cast, and the visuals were certainly stunning. CGI-animated films take forever to produce, thatís true, but after four years, fans of the series were yearning for more. Thankfully, their wait was not in vain.
There is no classic underdog story to retell in this movie. What the plot does revolve around is family, community, and secrets. A new Berk has arisen since the events of the first movie - one where dragons and vikings live and work together. The city is now a thriving, bustling place. Itís an amazing sight indeed, considering the events of the first movie took place a mere five years ago. Another epic battle threatens the safety of Berk, and itís up once again to Hiccup and his friends to save the day.
Even with all the epic clashes going on in this film, a strong side story emerges revolving around Hiccupís long lost mother. Her inclusion leads to a reunion between her and Hiccupís father, Stoick, that is truly the emotional high point of the movie. A ďnot-a-dry-eye-in-the-theatreĒ moment, for sure. It shows the power of the medium - when modern technology meets excellent artistic design and top-notch animation production value, it creates a moving, poignant experience. Personally, it was one of the most emotionally satisfying and heartwarming moments Iíve seen in theatres in quite a while.
The voice acting once again is very well done. Cate Blanchett is a great choice for the role of Valka, Hiccupís mother. However, I still need to figure out exactly why every foreign character in any movie where theyíre the protagonists speak in a British accent, but I digress. Djimon Hounsou makes a great villain - his gravely voice works perfectly for the giant hulk heís speaking for.
The humor of the movie is just as modern and witty as the original. The dragons themselves lend their own personalities and physicality towards making the audience laugh, and this is mostly evident in Toothless and his rapport with Hiccup. A particular favorite of mine amogst the dragons is the hummingbird-like flapping mixed with the dog-like panting and expressions of Gronckle, the dragon piloted by Hiccupís friend Fishlegs. However, Toothless himself is so expressive that he can make just a single face and make you crack up. Itís a compliment to the animation just as much as it is a compliment to the film itself.
Craig Fergusonís character is equal parts lug and confidant, the kind to make fart jokes one minute and reminisce of fond memories the next. Hiccupís friends, Snoutlout, Tuffnut, and Ruffnut, make up the clown section of the movie, providing one-liners and not-so-witty banter thatís just quick enough and delivered with enough panache to make you giggle.
All in all, How to Train Your Dragon 2 is a new classic - an example of how to do sequels correctly. Itís equal parts funny, striking, and emotionally powerful. It builds off the original movie successfully and creates new paths for the narrative to take. How to Train Your Dragon 3 is already in the works, and if this movie is any indication as to what to expect, the land of Berk is only going to get better and better.
* I watched this movie in a theatre with free tickets that were given to me as a present. I was not asked to do this review for sponsorship purposes.*