Director: Dean DeBlois
Writers: Dean DeBlois, Cressida Cowell (“How to Train Your Dragon” book series)
Stars: Jay Baruchel, Cate Blanchett, Gerard Butler
Synopsis: When Hiccup and Toothless discover an ice cave that is home to hundreds of new wild dragons and the mysterious Dragon Rider, the two friends find themselves at the center of a battle to protect the peace.
What Dean DeBlois was able to do with the first How to Train Your Dragon was just incredible and has become big favorite of mine since then. There was some huge expectations for How to Train Your Dragon 2 and boy did Deblois deliver. The aerial shots of Hiccup and Toothless are just fascinating and absolutely beautiful. The aesthetic they create is very similar to the first film and the animation is just impeccable. There’s a compelling blend of characterization and action that DeBlois handles flawlessly in this series. He also handles the dark moments of the film really well too, which does get a bit deep for some youngsters, but serves the story so well. Everything from the story to the animation to the music came together for a full and rich experience.
The story picks up not far after the events of the first How to Train Your Dragon, where dragons have fully integrated into the society of Berk, including dragon races that look like a ton of fun. Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) is on the verge of being appointed Chief of Berk (the next King essentially), but he doesn’t feel like it’s something for him. He likes to fly with Toothless and be on adventures. Hiccup, while flying on Toothless, find a new spot of land that is something they haven’t seen before. They discover that an evil is lurking, which they discover to be this menacing Dragon Master, Drago, who will kill for nothing. Hiccup feels it’s his duty to find Drago before he comes to Berk, but while flying he runs into a mysterious dragon rider that will change his life forever. Some of the story here gets a little convenient, however it’s potent in its’ presentation and even gets pretty emotional. The climax is nothing short of amazing, even more emotion and robust storytelling. This is one both parents and kids will love.
Jay Baruchel is really great as Hiccup and fully embodies that persona of a young man who’s trying to find himself, especially within this world. His interactions with his family and with toothless are just incredible. Gerard Butler is perfect as Stoick. Anytime Butler gets to use his natural accent is okay with me and he was the quintessential voice for this role. This isn’t Cate Blanchett’s best work but it’s absolutely serviceable and works well in the films most intimate moments. Craig Ferguson didn’t have a ton to do, but was magnetic when his character was there. Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, America Ferrera, Kristen Wiig, T.J. Miller and Kit Harington offer small supporting roles that were mostly used as comedic devices.
John Powell was born to score the How to Train Your Dragon series. His score for the first film is one of the best and emotional scores you’ll hear for an animated film. His score here is no different and elevates every part of the film. It’s gorgeous and captivating, especially when the film gets sentimental. The action sequences are fun and intense, which Powell works magically with his full orchestra. Go listen to this score. You’ll thank me later.
There were a lot of expectations for How to Train Your Dragon 2 and it did not disappoint. Every time we see Hiccup flying on Toothless, it’s riveting and makes me want to do that so bad. The film is just as emotional and engaging as the first one, with a climax that’s just as powerful. I cannot recommend this film more highly.