Director: Dean DeBlois
Starring: Jay Baruchel (v), Cate Blanchett (v), Gerard Butler (v), America Ferrera (v)
Release Date (US): 13th June, 2014
Company: 20th Century Fox/DreamWorks Animation
“Dragons used to be a bit of a problem, but that was five years ago. Now they’ve all moved in.” – Hiccup
Set five years after the first film, How To Train Your Dragon 2 returns to the island of Berk, where, thanks to Toothless and Hiccup, vikings and dragons now live together in harmony. However, when the two friends stumble across a cave home to hundreds of wild dragons (protected by a mysterious Dragon Rider), they find themselves at the center of a battle to protect the peace. Dean DeBlois (Lilo & Stitch) returns to direct the second chapter in the wildly popular How To Train Your Dragon franchise.
When this sequel was first announced, there were more than a few questions flying about. Where could the filmmakers take the narrative? Would it feel as fresh and honest as the first movie – or just like any other franchise-fueled cash grab? Thankfully, DeBlois delivers the former – offering a exciting new tale that expands and enriches the world of How To Train Your Dragon, while building on the great characters and world from the first film.
The decision to age the young protagonists works a treat, giving the writers the freedom to tell a more mature, slightly darker story. There’s far more going on this time around, with multiple interwoven story-lines and sub-plots – contrasting with the simplicity of the first movie. As a consequence, however, there’s not quite as much heart. The sequel struggles to replicate anything quite as touching as the burgeoning friendship between a young boy and an injured dragon. That said, it’s undoubtedly still an emotional ride.
“A man who kills without reason cannot be reasoned with.” – Stoick the Vast
Who doesn’t love Toothless? Everyone’s favourite Night Fury was back and on top form, re-teaming with his equally loveable rider, Hiccup – voiced, once again, by the excellent Jay Baruchel (The Sorcerer’s Apprentice). The bond between these two characters has always been the bedrock of the entire franchise, and represents one of the best animated partnerships of recent years. Watching them grow and mature has been fascinating.
The original cast all return, albeit in a much more limited capacity than last time. Excluding Gerard Butler (300)’s Stoick the Vast, Astrid and the rest of Hiccup’s friends play a far less significant role – yet remain as endearing as ever. They’re perhaps overshadowed by the inclusion of Hiccup’s mother – expertly brought to life by Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine). Elsewhere, Kit Harrington (Game Of Thrones) provides great entertainment while voicing the wonderfully named ‘Eret, Son of Eret’.
Direction & Tone
After helming the first Dragon movie alongside co-director Chris Sanders (The Croods), Dean DeBlois does an admirable solo job with the sequel. The tone, while inevitably darker and more assured, still carries the same sense of fun and adventure, and the action never feels forced. The visual effects team really outdo themselves here, creating some truly breathtaking animated imagery, while the flying sequences are second to none.
- I’m thoroughly disappointed that this wasn’t called: 2 Train 2 Dragons
- Sadly, after two whole movies, I’m still not really sure how to train a dragon. That’s misleading marketing right there.
- Tenuous Game Of Thrones link: Sigur Rós appeared on the HBO show’s fourth season during the Purple Wedding. Their lead singer, Jónsi, performs this movie’s fantastic theme song. You can listen to it here: “Where No One Goes” – Jónsi
- Tenuous Game Of Thrones link #2: There may be a distinct lack of Targaryens in this movie, but at least it has Jon Snow. Thankfully he still knows nothing.
- Tenuous Game Of Thrones link #3: There are also dragons in both. Okay I’ll stahp.
How To Train Your Dragon 2 is an equally impressive sequel that’s almost as touching as the 2010 original. The visuals are excellent, while the returning characters are as loveable as ever in this fun-filled animated adventure that feels genuinely worthwhile.