How To Train Your Dragon 2 Review
Five years after Hiccup and Toothless united vikings and dragons on the island of Berk, the pair encounter a new threat in the form of Drago, a viking who is determined to conquer using a dragon army. Meanwhile a mysterious new dragon rider has appeared with a whole nest of dragons who will change Hiccup’s life forever. How To Train Your Dragon 2 is an excellent film and a wonderful sequel. Directed by Dean DeBlois, who also directed the first film, the characters are forced to face new challenges and adversaries following their adoption of dragons as part of the way of life on Berk. Hiccup, voiced by Jay Baruchel, faces some hard choices about his role as a dragon rider and his place in the world. Such themes are tried and true for this genre of film but these themes are handled well for the most part and provide ample entertainment and conflict for the protagonist Hiccup and his friends.
As always, Dreamworks has created a beautiful animated world here which aids the film from the start as we learn that Hiccup and Toothless have been exploring the world as much as possible. The new locations that the characters visit look great and the film is visually adept. Indeed, How To Train Your Dragon 2 builds and improves on its predecessor in every way imaginable. There are more dragons than ever packed into the 1 hour 45 min running time and the plot manages to avoid replaying the same story elements that were hit in the first film without forgetting them altogether. A key theme in the previous film was acceptance as Hiccup taught the island of Berk to accept dragons into their lives. This is a tactic that Hiccup adopts for his new adversary Drago but the audience quickly realizes this is a lost cause as Drago’s views are the complete antithesis of Hiccup’s. This is smart storytelling as Hiccup is taught a harsh lesson about responsibility and the nature of someone who is truly evil.
For certain, this film contains some genuinely emotional moments without becoming melodramatic. Without going into spoiler territory, one plot twist comes as a genuine shock and leaves Hiccup and his friends feeling lost. This is a key part of the film and my only issue with it is that more time is not spent on the fallout for these characters, however this is something that could be worked into a third film if the makers decided to do so. These moments are handled with subtlety and marks a key turning point in Hiccup’s story. Perhaps the most impressive aspect of this film is the evolution of Hiccup’s character. His story has a clear arc throughout this film and indeed carrying on from the first film. Not only his is relationship with his father challenged again, but also his relationship with his companion Toothless.
How To Train Your Dragon 2 does suffer in terms of pacing at certain points, particularly in the middle section which was quite slow. Far from being bad scenes, there was just little action and would have left some audience members waiting for more development or action. In addition Hiccup’s friends such as Astrid, voiced by America Ferrera and Snotlout, voiced by Jonah Hill had less screen time than in the first film yet still play an important part in the story.
Overall, How To Train Your Dragon 2 is a very impressive film and an even more impressive sequel. While the story suffers from a slower pace in the middle it leads to a crescendo and some fantastic action-packed scenes. Wonderfully animated and containing some truly emotional moments How To Train Your Dragon 2 is an even greater film than its predecessor.