Saturday, July 26, 2014

Dream Factory: How to Train Your Dragon 2

How to Train Your Dragon 2
Director: Dean DeBlois
Original release date: DreamWorks Pictures 2014
Rating: PG

Summary from IMDB: When Hiccup and Toothless discover an ice cave that is home to hundreds of new wild dragons and the mysterious Dragon Rider, the two friends find themselves at the center of a battle to protect the peace.

Five years have past since the events that transpired in the first film.  As the story begins, Stoick is grooming Hiccup to replace him as chief of the village, but Hiccup focuses instead on traveling with Toothless to create an expanded map of the area.  He has also been tinkering with a set of wings for himself, although each practice attempt has resulted in a crash landing thus far. 

On one of their journeys, the duo encounters dragon poachers, but are rescued by a mysterious masked dragon rider.  Once Hiccup learns more about the poachers, he must rally his friends before the poachers capture all of Berk's dragons.

Those who are fans of the first film shouldn't be disappointed with this installment.  While the film has a number of serious moments, the trademark humor is still present in the side characters, such as Ruffnut and Fishlegs.  And the animation quality has only been improved since 2010.

What I most appreciated was the attention dedicated to a major secondary character's death.  Many family-oriented films will skim over such death sequences, but the writers here respect their audience and the scene they've created.  The scene in question is one of the most emotional in either of the films, not only because of the death, but because of how the death affects the relationship between Hiccup and Toothless.  Even though attentive viewers will see the foreshadowing of the death in earlier scenes in the film, it still stirs the emotions, which is a sign of how strong the writing is here.

My only real complaint with the film is that Hiccup is the only character who is given time to develop over the course of the film.  Astrid and his friends are very much side characters here, and the relationship between Hiccup and Astrid seems tacked on.  I haven't watched the TV show, so maybe it was developed more there?  If not, I hope the next film allots some time for other characters to mature and change.

I'm not sure why this film hasn't been doing better at the box office, as it's a solid, well-animated installment.  Fans of the franchise and of animation in general should definitely see it at the cinema.

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