It’s been five years since brave young Viking Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel) and his dragon Toothless managed to end the battle between Viking and Dragon by proving dragons were friends and not foes. Now while the town is entertained by dragon racing Hiccup and Toothless travel discovering new lands. When they discover an Ice Cave that is home to many dragons plus Valka the Dragon Rider (Cate Blanchett) some questions are answered for both Hiccup and his father Stoick (Gerard Butler). However Hiccup and Stoick’s brand new peace is soon shattered by the arrival of Drago (Djimon Hounsou) who is looking to start up a Dragon army.
The original How To Train Your Dragon film was a big player in the Dreamworks versus Pixar animated film war. For years Pixar had rested on the laurels of films such as Toy Story and Monsters Inc. to stamp their dominance on the market, but it was How To Train Your Dragon that announced that Dreamworks were not too far behind in the battle. Arguably since then films like The Croods have shown that Dreamworks has caught (if not surpassed) Pixar in the fight and How To Train Your Dragon 2 proves that they are more than holding their ground.
Fans of this franchise are about to find themselves taken on a very magical journey indeed. The first film was a great film, there is no disputing that but there is something about this second film though that just seems to give it a lot more heart. Of course the storyline revolving around Hiccup and Valka was always going to be an emotional one, but the screenwriters involved this time around seem to take things a step further. The dialogue that they have between most of the characters almost makes you forget that you are watching an animated film and instead you feel that you have are watching a very special heartfelt sci-fi fantasy instead.
The animators also help enhance the ‘reality’ of the film with some fantastic sequences made even better by the work of director Dean DeBlois is work on this franchise alone has revealed him to be one of the best directors of animation going around. So good are the visuals with How To Train Your Dragon 2 that this is one film where it’s worth paying the extra to see it in 3D. Yes there are times here when the 3D effects will actually make you feel like you are flying with the rest of the dragon fleet.
Of course there is a bit of a danger with bringing realism to the film, and that is that certain parts of this film are really going to affect some of the younger audience members. The nature of the story, remember that at the heart this is a Viking story, means there is going to be some violence and this time around we even see hand-to-hand one-on-one combat which at times results in injuries and death. The fact that the films creative team has worked even harder to make the characters and the lands at hand realistic means that these things are going to impact on the younger audience members even harder than usual. So parents may want to be warned before deciding to bring the really young ones into the audience.
In my eyes How To Train Your Dragon 2 is better than the original film and that’s saying something considering I thought the first was one of the best animated films ever made. The strong writing of this second film in the franchise draws you even closer to the characters and somehow you even find yourself liking characters such as Stoick just that little more. The amazing visuals and entertaining good-versus-evil storyline does actually feel like it’s taking its audience on a journey, while the suspense and drama of the film are some of the most powerful you are ever likely to experience with an animated film.
Director: Dean DeBlois
Starring: Jay Baruchel, Cate Blanchett, Gerard Butler
Running Time: 102 minutes
Release Date: 11th July 2014