How To Train Your Dragon 2

Posted: July 20, 2014 in Movie Reviews

Hiccup and Toothless_How To Train Your Dragon 2

When it comes to animation, I’m a Disney aficionado (that includes Pixar). From Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to Frozen, Disney represents original and quality film making at its best, and my list of top 20 favorite animated films of all time has always been comprised of Disney and Pixar films——until now.


Summary: (Spoiler-free)

Five years have passed since the Viking town of Berk accepted dragons as loving, caring creatures. Now a mature man, Hiccup (Jay Baruchel—–The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Million Dollar Baby) has become the man that his father has always dreamed he’d be. In fact, his father Stoick (Gerard Butler—–300) means for him to become the village leader someday.

However, a new threat arises and threatens Berk when Drago (Djimon Hounsou—–Gladiator), greatest of all the dragon riders, unifies all dragons under his banner for the sole purpose of domination over mankind. Newly reunited with his long-lost mother Valka (Cate Blanchett—–Lord of the Rings) who has cared for the dragons for the past 20 years, Hiccup and Toothless must fight alongside those he loves to protect that which he has so fondly cares for.

Also starring: Gerard Butler, Craig Ferguson, America Ferrera, Jonah Hill, and Kit Harrington.


 How To Train Your Dragon was one of those rare gems in the world of non-Disney animation. It was fun, meaningful, and overall a highly enjoyable experience. But How To Train Your Dragon 2  completely takes it up a level and tops itself in nearly every way possible, beginning with the relationship between Hiccup and Toothless.

The boy-and-his-dog storyline is a rich one. From Lassie  to Old Yeller, the relationship between a boy and his dog has always been gripping and relatable and manages to find a special place in our hearts. And this film takes the opportunity to improve upon that relationship established in the first film. After 5 years of friendship, the two know each other’s moods and temperaments, weaknesses and strengths almost flawlessly. They live and they interact as one, coordinating themselves to their greatest potential.

Astrid_How To Train Your Dragon 2

As far as character growth, this is one coming-of-age story not to be missed. The Hiccup in the first film was a young, scrawny boy who couldn’t cope with the Vikings’ duties and lifestyle, but who eventually becomes a more courageous fighter. In How To Train Your Dragon 2, we see a complete transformation from awkward kid to a fully mature and noble warrior; a man who is in the beginning stages of becoming a true leader.

Visually, this has to be the most beautiful animated film since Frozen (which, granted, wasn’t that long ago but nonetheless speaks volumes). Every opportunity has again been taken in making this film look and feel more spectacular than the last. The aerial shots are simply majestic and will remove you momentarily from the theater and immerse you in the rich world created.

But perhaps the film’s greatest aspect is the pure heart it has behind it. With no exaggeration, I teared-up nearly three times. With the introduction of Hiccup’s mother, we’re treated to a gripping subplot surrounding Stoick and Valka and the emotions that ensue after two decades of separation. We see the strength of family bond and the vast love it provides that breaches any force of ill-will and malice.


In a nutshell:

Who would have thought that another 2014 animated film could top The LEGO Movie? Beautiful, rich, poignant, emotionally compelling, and incredibly sleek, this film really is all you could ever hope for it to be. Though it has some brief moments of mediocrity——brief  moments——How To Train Your Dragon 2  is a prime example that animated films are not necessarily made for kids; they are, in fact, adult films with mature themes that are simply kid-friendly in nature. In essence, I will bestow How To Train Your Dragon 2  with the highest honor I could possibly give: it is indeed a Disney-worthy film. And that is no lightly-made statement. Well done, Dreamworks, for producing not only your finest film yet, but one of the most enjoyable films of this year.

9 stars


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