How To Train Your Dragon 2 (PG) Review (2014)

How_to_Train_Your_Dragon_2_PosterHow To Train Your Dragon 2 picks up several years after the original film left off. Dragons and Vikings, once at war with one another are now working and playing together all because Hiccup (Jay Baruchel), the son of the Viking Chieftain, develops a friendship with a rare dragon named Toothless. Now, while  the Vikings revel in sports involving these new organic airplanes, Hiccup continues to walk his own path and expanding his own world. Each day he and his loyal Night Fury fly further into unexplored lands, adding a new piece to an ever expanding map.

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He’s found what he loves to do, but his father, Stoick (Gerard BUT-LER!), would rather him stop flying around on his dragon so that he can start preparing to succeed him as the Viking leader. But, Hiccup soon discovers that there’s an even bigger world out there, with more people doing bad things to more dragons and he’s once again crusading for Dragons’ rights… Hhhhhh…

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When I went to see the original, I really didn’t have any expectations. in fact, I think I didn’t even want to see it. It just didn’t seem to interest me, but I went and… Wow. Great film. GREAT film. It was incredible to look at. It ‘moved’ well; it had a quick pace. It was funny. It had interesting, quirky characters. It had some unexpected twists and turns.

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For the sequel, I did have expectations and I was disappointed that this film fell far short of the original. I wan’t EXTREMELY disappointed, but I did feel like Dreamworks was treading over the same ground.Hiccup discovers more people in distant lands who are basically at war with dragons (or with people using dragons). There’s another dragon, far larger than the others that is controlling them, just as there was in the original, only this time there’s TWO giant dragons so that they can fight at the end, but for some reason, it’s not as impressive as the ‘Red Death’ from the climax of the 2010 film.

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And as always, Dragon 2’s biggest sin is that it’s dull. The flying/action sequences didn’t seem to be as impressive. It wasn’t as funny. There was a re-occurring feeling of “been there, done that.” The film even lost me a few times, as when Toothless can’t fly without  Hiccup for some reason, when the first scene with the two depicts Toothless… flying without Hiccup.

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SPOILERS! READ NO FURTHER IF YOU DON’T WANT TO HAVE ONE OF THE FILM’S SECRETS SPOILED! I’M NOT KIDDING! SPOILER ALERT!… Anyway… Hiccup’s anachronistic progressive mentality wore on me in this one, also. The reaction to the appearance of… Okay, his mother (and the TRAILER gave that one away)….who was supposed to be dead is just immediately glossed over. I could never like the mother (played by Cate Blanchett) and I lost respect for the father and son because of the way it’s handled in the film… The mother CHOOSES to abandon her SON and her husband and allows them to believe that she’s dead… because she wants to be an activist and save chimpanzees… I mean dragons. Whatever. I’m sorry, I just can’t get past that. Sure, there’s a thing called forgiveness, but there’s also a thing called responsibility to raise your children. If the Dreamworks’ writers can put their contemporary attitudes into the Viking era, I can put my own into my criticism of the film and it also seemed WAY out of character for the chieftain Stoick, who routinely disowns his son in these films for FAR less. The writing just was not consistent.

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Far from the worst film I’ve seen this year, Dragon 2 still has its good points. It’s still visually stunning. The digital artists made a great film to look at, but even this aspect falls short of the first. This one seems to fast forward through the ‘big’ moments as if the filmmakers also felt that they’ve ‘been there’, so they didn’t invest the effort to make them important as they did in the first film. At least it didn’t feel that way to me. If you didn’t see the first film, I’m sure that you might like this more than if you had, but there still is a vacuum of laughs and more draggin’ than dragon.

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2.5 of 5 

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