Greetings all! I first wanted to say up front how much I have genuinely appreciated those readers and friends who have visited my site in these still-early stages of its development and have in one way or the other given me a lot of positive feedback for my reviews and Spotlights, much less to all of you who have recommended the site to friends and family, etc. It truly means the world to me as I am striving to find ways to get more traffic to the site and build this into something if at all possible. But, regardless of where this ultimately goes, I will continue to post the content I can and keep hoping that it will expand to further places in time. That said, I have FINALLY managed to catch up with my current Summer films by taking in the 40th (yes, you read that correctly….40th!) film of this year, DreamWorks Animation’s excellent sequel, “How To Train Your Dragon 2”.
Directed by returning helmer Dean DeBlois (“Lilo & Stich“, “How To Train Your Dragon“), the story picks up 5 years after the events of the first, where the now-peaceful seaside Viking city of Burk is home to the newly forged relationship/alliance between man and the beasts they used to fight and fear…….dragons. We get thrown into a playful competition among the town’s young heroes during a dragon race (involving the capturing and amassing of the most sheep in the time allotted! We all know just how much the sheep LOVE dragons! LOL). And so the fun ensues between Snotlout (Jonah Hill), Fishlegs (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), Tuffnut (T.J. Miller), his sister Ruffnut (Kristen Wiig), and Astrid (America Ferrera), along with each of their now-trusty steeds, the dragons they befriended in the first outing. Of course, the humor is upped in the fact that Snotlout and Fishlegs have a things for Ruffnut, who more than abhors the fact the two keep trying their best to flirt, much to her disinterest and their making fools of themselves. The fun is being looked over by the town’s residents, and, of course, presiding over the whole affair, is reigning chief Stoick the Vast (Gerard Butler) and our favorite local blacksmith Gobber (Craig Ferguson). What does not go unnoticed, especially by Stoick, is the lack of attendance by his son and Burk’s true hero, Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and his Night Fury and friend, Toothless. Once we are away from the events and frivolity, we discover Hiccup enjoying one of his favorite things….flying, diving, and soaring above the clouds on Toothless’ back while also testing out his latest creation for himself. We also find that these flights have another purpose, one of which leads Hiccup to discover a new land, which we then see is added to a map he is compiling of the outer territories surrounding Burk. In this exploration, and being joined by his love Astrid, whose tracked him down, they stumble into any icy dwelling hidden within the misty interior of this new world that reveals not only new dangers to come, but ultimately an even more startling discovery that changes the very face of Hiccup’s entire life and the lives of the dragons he’s fought to save from eradication. For Stoick, one find is a true harbinger of chaos, in the form of a mysterious and ominous warrior Drago (Djimon Hounsou), who has very nefarious plans for Burk and dragons, being aided by a dragon trapper Eret (Kit Harrington). The other revelation hits both heart and home, and drives much of the story and actions taken by himself, Hiccup, and others close to them for the remainder of this adventure. As one would expect, there are the decisions made, events unfolding, heroes rising, and new friends emerging, battles being waged, and losses experienced, all while family and loyalty are put to the test. And, as always, it seems to come back to being a tale about a boy and his dragon. Per usual, to dive in anymore would give away those much-prized details, and, well, you know my stance!
I really enjoyed this second outing with Hiccup and friends, though I must say it was decidedly different than the first one as well. This film, for me, carried a lot more weight to it…a seriousness behind it…that wasn’t necessarily there in “Dragon 1”. This can mainly be attributed to the fact that this does have a LOT more pathos in it and the storyline being presented most certainly lends itself to that more non-playful tone. And this is NOT a bad thing at all. To actually see Hiccup’s character more grown up and mature, even if his actions sometimes don’t show it still, was refreshing. Even his interactions with Astrid were so much more confident and adult in a way, and I felt that was a solid component as well. Now…does this mean the fun was all gone?? Of course not! We are still treated with plenty of the light-hearted banter and wittiness that MADE the first film SO worth seeing. And the dragons even moreso in this have their own distinct personalities, especially Toothless, who is always endearing, even when having those moments where he is so frustrated with his master that he wants to drop him off a cliff. Tuffnut actually gets to really fawn over someone as well in this, which is a total stich!! And the supporting characters from the first all do their part to add to the story solidly as well. Visually, the film is as you would expect from DreamWorks Animation….top notch. I saw this in 3D and it’s the flight scenes in particular that really lend themselves to this medium. Otherwise, as is often the case, you could easily manage and enjoy this in 2D. But just the wonderful bringing to life of the dragons in ALL their forms very much gives the world they inhabit its life, and I am actually impressed with some of the new types they came up with for this. The voice cast is excellent as it is, and I am always glad when they ensure to bring back the ORIGINAL people to do the characters, as that also assists in the continuity of the adventure for me. A veteran joins this cast, too, and it is perfect given who they are playing. Go see the film for who it is if you don’t already know or cheat by looking it up. And it is nice to have a story that did make sense and wasn’t forced, in my opinion. It allowed us to go deeper into Hiccup’s growth into a man as well as provide that greater sense of seriousness I mentioned earlier. The music adds the final touches to this tale effectively, thanks to the orchestrations of returning composer John Powell. A great sequel, and it has already been announced that “Dragons 3” is going to aim for a 2016 release. As long as the all-around quality returns again, I am ready to suit up with Hiccup, Astrid, and the rest of our crazy crew to fly high and defend Burk.
As always, this is all for YOUR consideration and comment. Until next time, thank you for reading and for supporting this effort! Appreciate you all!