A review by Nalini Haynes
- Director: Dean DeBlois
- Writers: Dean DeBlois, Cressida Cowell (“How to Train Your Dragon” book series)
- Stars: Jay Baruchel, Cate Blanchett, Gerard Butler
- Watch this if you liked: Frozen, How to Train Your Dragon, Brave
- Rating: ★★★★☆ 4/5
How to Train Your Dragon 2 opens with a dragon race crossed with a basketball game, clearly the dragon/viking version of Quidditch. Comedy and characterization to the fore, these scenes establish relationships as well as developments in the village of Berk since the first movie.
Some things never change: Hiccup is missing from the event, disappointing his dad by failing to show. This time Hiccup is exploring the world on dragon-back while also testing his paragliding outfit, nearly getting himself killed in the process, much to Toothless’s (his dragon’s) disgust.
Hiccup and his friends are now around 20 years old, with the boys’ fuzzy faces evidence of their attempts to grow manly beards. Adorbs.
After winning the race/game, Astrid, Hiccup’s girlfriend, joins Hiccup in his exploration, only to be threatened by dragon-trappers.
Astrid and Hiccup rush back to Berk to warn everyone of impending danger. Hiccup’s dad locks down the village but not before Hiccup and Astrid escape – Millennium Falcon-wise – to seek out the warmongering Drago in an attempt to make peace.
Characterization is well-done, carrying the action, making the audience care about the characters. Hiccup is a somewhat moody although not bad tempered young adult. Toothless’s character is part cat, part dog, part horse and all dragon.
Astrid is torn between being a side-kick, Hiccup’s friend, Hiccup’s love interest and the princess from Brave. Astrid had untapped potential. This was particularly disappointing as the female characters were the cliche, revolving around the menz. No passes for the Bechdel Test here; these are not the droids/women you’re looking for.
There were a couple of plot points where I was a little ‘meh‘ but How to Train Your Dragon 2 is not only a sequel, it’s a family movie. These plot points were family movie tropes.
I love that Hiccup and Toothless both have disabilities – missing bits – but they live and love regardless, not as inspiration porn because of their disabilities but being human (or dragon) and living life to the full.
The 3D is beautiful, from snow falling in your face to water bubbles popping out of the screen to that more ‘traditional’ 3D fare, battle scenes. The dragons are beautifully rendered and textured, each unique in appearance with personality quirks.
IMDB lists How to Train Your Dragon 2 as action adventure; although valid, I feel ‘comedy’ should be included. How to Train Your Dragon 2 is a great family movie and a worthy sequel to the original movie. Although there’s more than a hint of romance and the central characters are older (young adults now), the child-filled cinema was quiet, the audience enthralled. Highly recommended for family audiences, fantasy lovers and the young at heart.