Tuesday, June 16, 2015

How to Train Your Dragon 2 (2014)

I tend to give American animation the short shrift on this blog. But that doesn’t mean I don’t admire it. Pixar has made some genuine classics, and Dreamworks has given us a couple really fun and exciting films. In fact I reviewed How to Train Your Dragon for DVD Verdict and really enjoyed it. I was looking forward to seeing where the crew could take the story for the sequel, and if the quality would match the 2010 original.

Things have changed a bit since we last joined the Vikings on the island of Berk. Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) is now exploring the wide world with his dragon companion Toothless. During one of his adventures he runs into a group of men who are actually hunting dragons and capturing them for an overlord calling himself Drago (Djimon Hounsou). These men claim that Drago can tame and control any dragon and is slowly taking over the world with his dragon army.

Hiccup and Toothless attempt to warn the people of Berk but along the way they run into another group of dragons! This group is lead by the mysterious Valka (Cate Blanchett) who actually knows who Hiccup is, and has a history with his father Stoick (Gerard Butler). Will the combined forces of Berk’s dragon riding teens and Valka’s dragons be enough to stop the onslaught?

Good Points:
  • Aging all the characters giving them more depth
  • Feels like a natural thematic and story follow-up to the original
  • An amazing musical score by John Powell

Bad Points:
  • Some of the freshness has worn of the concept and characters
  • A few of the plot twists won’t be a surprise
  • If you didn’t like the previous entry, you probably won’t like this one

But honestly, how could you not find something to enjoy about the previous film. This sequel is exactly what you want it to be. It builds on the characters, world and themes of the original. It gives us new characters and settings to visually dazzle. It adds some gravitas to the plot with older characters and more of a coming of age reckoning for Hiccup. It also retains its amazing visual splendor and wonderful music. Fans of the original will be very happy with this film.

Scores (out of 5)
Visuals: 5
Sound: 5
Acting: 4
Script: 4
Music: 5
Direction: 4
Entertainment: 5
Total:  5

Curious about a full review, sent me an email and I’ll make additional thoughts to this review.


  1. I haven't seen the follow up but I think it's in my Q. The last animation I saw was Big Hero 6 and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Actually if you were to pit American animation against anime, I'd have to go with the American. They just seem more fleshed out or appealing to me, although I love to sprinkle in some anime into that mix.

    1. Yeah, I've heard a lot of folks say the same thing. And I admit that American animation has improved over the years. It was getting pretty stale in the 80s and 90s. I think Pixar really woke up a lot of American animation studios to what could be done with animation. But some of those folks at Pixar are big anime fans too. :)

  2. I haven't seen either movie, but who wouldn't want a dragon? Unless, that is, you have to feed it. You'd need a fleet of 18-wheelers rolling in supplies, I imagine.

    1. That is one of the cool things about these movies, how they approach training and befriending the dragons. One of the elements I liked in the sequel is the view of our heroes who see the dragons as friends and companions, and the villain who sees them as beasts and tools. This contrast plays a part in the overall story and ties back to the themes of the first film. Nicely written all the way around.