For any sequel, measuring up to the success of the first is always tricky but writer/director Dean DeBlois may just have a winning formula on his hands with How to Train Your Dragon 2.
Set five years after the original movie Hiccup returns in full quirky glory, taking you on a turbulent ride as he tries to navigate his way towards manhood and discover who he really is. Much like Hiccup, the sequel is all grown up. A matured development to the first movie dealing with much deeper issues (well as deep as a kid’s movie can go). Trouble is sparked after Hiccup and his team of dragon riders cross paths with a group of dragon-enslaving thieves belonging to the infamous Drago Bloodfist. Hiccup’s shoulders are heavy with the weight of responsibility when Drago means to challenge Berk’s way of living. Emotions run high and change is on its way whether Hiccup is ready for it or not.
DeBlois’ sequel is just as charming as the first. More than a few comic gems can be found, especially from Jay Baruchel (Hiccup), as he delivers Hiccup’s sarcastic flavour of hilarity to perfection; while the love-struggle between Snotlout and Fishlegs over Ruffnut is anything but dull.
How to Train Your Dragon 2 also sees the much anticipated arrival of Hiccup’s mother Valka (voiced by Cate Blanchett). Valka adds an interesting dimension to the film and the young dragon rider learns a lot about himself through the eyes and ways of his long lost mother.
Bad guy Drago (Djimon Hounsou) also provides tons of excitement with his over zealous attitude towards concurring.
Despite the brand-new shiny faces, old characters are just as impressive. Jonah Hill, America Ferrera and Kristen Wiig all reprise their roles bringing back a familiar enjoyment.
Pressing pause on the sing-song of praise here, it has to be said, the emotional reunion of the Haddock family is a tad marred by the shear unrealism of it all. *SMALL SPOILER ALERT* In what world would a father and son so readily forgive a mother for abandoning the family, welcoming her with a ‘there, there’ attitude, no questions asked? I guess a kid’s movie, that’s what world. However, that piece to the film’s puzzle feels somewhat jagged and forced in to place.
Mechanically speaking, the animations in the movie are spot on. Whether or not there is need for 3D is debatable however but 3D has become a bit like salt these days, a little bit sprinkled on everything whether there’s call for it or not.
A riveting middle section to what’s shaping up to be a stunning trilogy. Sadness, however, cannot be avoided and a startling ending irrevocably changes the course of Hiccup’s life.