In Hollywood, sequels are often a death sentence — how can the second movie live up to the expectations set up by the first?
Thankfully, How to Train Your Dragon 2 completely averts this. With its lovable characters, high-stakes plot and fantastic animation, How to Train Your Dragon 2 is an enjoyable film for people of all ages.
The digital format I reviewed was just as powerful and crisp-looking as the big screen. Continuing the story five years after the events from the first film, we see how Berk has developed with the integration of dragons into its society. Instead of hunting dragons, the Vikings are raising them. While the others take part in dragon races, Hiccup and Toothless map the world around Berk, eager to explore the unexplored. His father, Stoick, is ready to retire and make his son the chief, but Hiccup feels he isn’t right for the role. But when a new force threatens to disturb the balance between dragons and Vikings, Hiccup knows he has to stop it before it’s too late.
While watching the first movie will explain some of the backstory, How to Train Your Dragon 2 stands strong on its own. The characters have grown since the first movie, both in character and in physical build. Hiccup, Astrid and the rest of the gang have grown from their lanky teenage years to mature young adults — for example, all of the guys have traces of stubble on their faces, showing just how much detail the artists and animators have put into the movie. Meanwhile, though Stoick can still take on any Viking, his age does show with traces of gray in his beard.
Most of the movie focuses on Hiccup and his growth from a naïve but well-meaning young man to someone ready to lead all of Berk. His journey teaches him more about his past — specifically, his family — and, without spoiling the movie, explains why it’s in his blood to be a master dragon tamer. Even though the supporting characters are given less spotlight to make room for the lead characters, Ruffnut, Tuffnut, Snoutlout and Fishlegs often serve as the much-needed comic relief in the movie.
Credit must also be given to the voice actors. In addition to all of the voice actors returning from the first film — which is always promising for a sequel — the new additions are well-cast, fitting with their respective characters. The wide range of emotions experienced in this movie can be difficult to convey, especially with the voice as the only tool to show them, but the actors capture each emotion perfectly.
With just as many funny moments as there are heartwarming ones, this movie has a little bit of everything — drama, romance, humor and plenty of adventure. Although some parts do get a little predictable, most of it defies the typical tropes found in animated movies. In some ways this movie is even better than the first, defying yet another trend that is usually prevalent in animated movies. With a third movie in the works and How to Train Your Dragon 2 being released on DVD and Blu-Ray on November 11, it’s definitely a film you’ll want to add to your collection.
The Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD have several hours of awesome bonus, and the Blu-ray and Digital HD contain deleted scenes, four exclusive featurettes, and a 60-minute behind-the-scenes documentary from director Dean DeBlois.