Four years ago, How to Train Your Dragon came out of nowhere and gave us a gorgeous adventure filled with humour, action, loss and love. How refreshing then that How To Train Your Dragon 2 contains the best elements of its predecessor and improves on them in almost every way.
Written and directed by Dean DeBlois, the story centres on the just-about-grown-up Hiccup (perfectly voiced by Jay Baruchel) who continues to fly high with his dragon Toothless in the village of Berk. When the safety of his village is threatened by a powerful villain named Drago, who reputedly has collected an army of dragons, Hiccup decides to undertake a perilous journey to try to prevent all out war. Needless to say, both Hiccup and Toothless encounter their fair share of surprises along the way.
How to Train Your Dragon 2 goes beyond the Viking island of Berk, expanding the entire world of the franchise, and dares to create moments that are quiet and slow and deeply human. It offers bigger, darker and more mature ideas without diminishing the original film and Hiccups transition from boy to man is both beautifully composed and tremendously funny.
Even with a hugely expanded cast the film never loses sight of its target audience and the story remains relatively easy to follow for the younger viewers, even if some of the life lessons go over their heads. The stunningly vivid animation will enthrall and excite in equal measure; enormous battle scenes that make the most of the dragons ability to sweep across the sky brought to life with marvellous attention to detail and the creatures themselves are every bit as loveable as last time round.
The film’s real emotional heart comes from its unabashed fanboy love of dragons. Hiccup’s most important relationship is his bond with Toothless, who continues to alternate between playful puppy-like behaviour and deadly ferocity, in a way designed make all the kids in the audience desperately crave their own dragons (and half the adult viewers, too).
How To Train Your Dragon 2 is every bit as ambitious and brave as Pixar at their peak; the directors passion for the world he has created shining through in every wonderful frame. A sequel that impressively soars.
(Images and source – Empire, /Film, Collider)