In spite of the inherent aversion to Hollywood sequels, few cinephiles could begrudge Dean DeBlois taking us back into the lives of Hiccup and Toothless in the eagerly anticipated How to Train Your Dragon 2. It’s proven to be a triumphant return too, because this production is arguably even better than the first.
Following on from Hiccup’s (Jay Baruchel) desperate endeavour to ensure that human beings and dragons come together in unison on the island of Berk, he now has his wish, as it seems all the town’s inhabitants – including his stubborn and archaic father Stoick (Gerard Butler) – have got into the spirit of things. However sadly not all humans feel the same way – and the degenerate, unhinged Drago (Djimon Hounsou) is hellbent on going to war with Berk, and getting his hands on the pet dragons to train them for combat purposes.
Though fans of the original series of books by Cressida Cowell would say otherwise, from a narrative perspective, it was difficult for fans of just the movie to envisage exactly where this story would be taken, though the deft execution and introduction of new characters, such as Hiccup’s long lost mother, Valka (Cate Blanchett), help to ease any such apprehensions. Where this picture truly comes into it’s element, however, is the poignant display of human and animal relations, as anybody who has ever had a domestic pet will find much to relate to. This leads, inevitably, to a film that has a lot of heart; and the balance between drama and pathos is remarkable. As a result, How to Train Your Dragon 2 is about as close as Dreamworks have ever got to matching that of their rivals Pixar and Studio Ghibli. They have never looked so easy on the eye either, as the story is brought to life masterfully with truly breathtaking use of 3D animation. Rarely has the format been so effective too, as the vibrancy of the setting and immensity of the action sequences, make for a fine addition to this fledging franchise.
The film is also more action heavy, and it feels that, similarly to the Harry Potter series for instance, this film is aimed at the very same crowd who loved the first movie; therefore having to become somewhat more mature as a result, to be in tune with the ageing demographic. Though that being said, it’s still likely the parents who will enjoy this one most.