Director: Dean DeBlois
Starring: Jay Baruchel, America Ferrera, Cate Blanchett, Gerard Butler
With its release on DVD and Blu-Ray this week, now’s as good a time as any to give you a review of Hiccup and Toothless’ most recent adventure.
How To Train Your Dragon 2 (HTTYD2) is undoubtedly one of the best animated movies of the year. Having said this, 2014 hasn’t been one of the best years for animated films, yet we have seen some real gems the likes of: The Lego Movie, The Boxtrolls, The Book of Life and we are hearing good things about Disney’s Big Hero Six.
The sequel finds us returning to the mythical viking settlement of Berk, where dragons and vikings live in harmony. Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) is now a couple of years older, slightly better looking, and betrothed to fellow dragon rider Astrid (America Ferrera). But he is still trying to find himself.
Along with his trusty dragon companion and best friend Toothless (still as adorable as ever), he embarks on yet another hair-raising adventure. When they discover an ice cave in which reside hundreds of wild dragons and a mysterious rider, the pair find themselves entwined in a dangerous battle to protect both the freedom of their new-found dragon friends and the future of Berk.
This is Berk. Life here is amazing. Dragons used to be a bit of a problem. But now they’ve all moved in.
Sequels rarely live up to the hype of the original, but HTTYD2 has no trouble in doing so. The addition of Cate Blanchett is a masterstroke on writer/director Dean DeBlois’ part, adding a heretofore unexplored dynamic into the mix. The villain, Drago (Djimon Hounsou), is both mysterious and genuinely threatening; there is a real sense of impending doom, and pitting Drogo’s dragons against Hiccup’s allows the film to become more of a spectacle compared to its predecessor.
HTTYD2 delves into some interesting concepts, such as death, the burden of leadership, freedom, and family. Quite a lot of stuff in there considering it’s a family movie, but it all works wonderfully well. DeBlois pulls no punches; if you think that this is merely a kids film, you’d be very much mistaken. Tears will be shed whilst watching this movie.
One of the film’s highlights is a third act which wouldn’t have been out of place in a Lord of the Rings movie, with huge spectacle during an epic battle, in which even more epically sized dragons hit one another – and the thing is, the movie actually makes us care about all of this!
HTTYD2 also looks and sounds amazing, the art design is full of colour, and the score is enchanting thanks to John Powell and Sigur Rós’ Jónsi, who return to great effect. It is a fantastic film which has something for children and adults alike. I wouldn’t be averse to a trilogy.