In 2010, DreamWorks Animation released arguably one of their best films since “Madagascar” in 2005, or perhaps even “Shrek” in 2001, with “How to Train Your Dragon.” The company is hoping to capitalize on the success of that film with the sequel, “How to Train Your Dragon 2.”
Set five years after the events of the previous film, the story picks up with Hiccup and Toothless journeying past their island of Berk and discovering new lands. It’s on one of these ventures with Astrid and Stormfly they encounter dragon trappers working for Drago Bludvist, a Viking who even Stoick balks at the mention of. Hiccup makes an important discovery in the mission of dealing with the Drago threat, and tragedy strikes in the midst of all the action.
Featuring the voicework of Jay Baruchel Gerard Butler, America Ferrera and Cate Blanchett, the sequel, having taken its time to make it to audiences, paid off for its wait. Exhilarating flights with Hiccup and Toothless are detailed beautifully in the animation, as are the variety of dragons introduced in the film.
The plot holds together, pacing itself to help characters make important discoveries about the world around them, and themselves. Hiccup is all grown up, and being groomed as the new chief, his accomplishments with the dragons making him the clear successor. New characters introduced provide interesting springboards for the plot, although Valka, being DreamWorks Animation attempt at a “Strong Female Character” falls short as the capable woman is suddenly incapable of much after her powerful introduction.
The animation is done beautifully here as it was in the original film. Dragons get more detailed as their variety grows, and the landscapes range from the colorful village of Berk to the icy waters around it.
The perk of a film like this is that it is not just a good children’s film, but is a great film for everyone. Adults can see this movie and be entertained by the storyline just as much as a child can be captivated by the dragons, making this a great film for families with even smaller children.
“How to Train Your Dragon 2” marks an A effort from a studio that has systematically been underperforming in its slew of sequels. I recommend this film to everyone within the summer must-see ranks of “X-Men” and “Godzilla.”