I don’t remember much about the first film (should have re-watched beforehand), but I remember I really enjoyed it. Dragons are one of the few mythical creatures that translate across the world and ages. Our own Saigami is proof dragons are entertaining, enhance a story environment, and offer a plethora of ideas. I love that dragons can be both scary (a la Hobbit) and fantastical (a la my childhood favorite Pete’s Dragon). How to Train Your Dragon 2 falls into the fun category but is far more than a kid’s movie.
The film picks up a few years after the first where dragons now live happily within the village. Hiccup and Toothless are surrounded by fellow friends and dragons as dragon racers; Hiccup is also being trained by his father to be the next chief. Of course things can’t be simple, the evil Drago seeks to trap all dragons and Valka, a dragon whisperer, enters Hiccup’s life.
Dean Deblois, writer/director, was inspired heavily by Empire Strikes Back to expand the scope of his dragon world. Overall, the story is quite weak with a lot of puzzle pieces, but this really doesn’t matter. Any story faults are soon forgotten by how amazing the movie looks. Its animation is the star with voice acting probably second. Deblois raises the stakes and prepares for a third and final film.
This film was the first to use Dreamworks’s new animation and lighting software…and you can tell. The animation is far more controlled and detailed. The colors are gorgeous and, with a lot of landscape/dragon flying scenes, the backdrops look like paintings. How to Train Your Dragon 2 feels like a moving painting with emotional depth. The looks of the dragons, dozens of them, are exquisite and original; the new dragons and species are so inventive and beautiful for a far from new creature. Animation has benefited tremendously in a technological age, but a part of me misses the skill and artistry of hand drawn animated films. I usually find animated films to take for granted CGI and animation software, creating something that appears sloppily thrown together and driven by box office. This film truly explores the use of today’s animation to enhance a story and do what live-action can’t.
The film is a surprisingly emotional yet thrilling dragon adventure. The voice cast is hilarious and somehow is easy to visualize as if on screen themselves. How to Train Your Dragon 2 may be lacking in the story department but far exceeds visually. If you love dragons and fantasy check out this film and read Saigami while waiting for the complete trilogy.
By Kasey Michael--a lover of all things entertainment. Born and bred in North Carolina, she has a degree in Film Studies and can usually be found in front of a screen.