IN CINEMAS NOW
RUNNING TIME: 102 min
REVIEWED BY: Dr Lenera, Official HCF Critic
Five years after the Viking village of Berk has made peace with the dragons, dragons now live amongst the villagers as working animals and companions, and even take part in sport. Hiccup goes on adventures with his dragon, Toothless, as they discover and map unexplored lands and territories. Having come of age, he is being pressed by his father, Stoick the Vast, to succeed him as chieftain, although Hiccup remains unsure if he is ready for this responsibility. Hiccup and Astrid discover the remains of a fort encased in a colossal ice formation and encounter a dragon trapper named Eret, who blames them for the destruction of his fort and attempts to capture their dragons for an insane conqueror called Drago Bludvist. The two riders return to Berk to warn Stoick about the dragon army that Drago is amassing….
We never have time to write enough about all the films we see here on HCF, so you should never take the fact that I give a short review to a particular film a sign of a lack of quality. How To Train Your Dragon 2 might be one of the best films of the year so far and certainly the best fantasy adventure. The first film was widely regarded as the moment where Dreamworks finally matched Pixar, though I personally think it was neck and neck for some time before that. In any case, this sequel can almost be considered as a perfect sequel: it feels like a natural continuation of the first film’s story rather than an unnecessary add-on, it expands the world in which it takes place, it adds new characters but develops the ones we already know, and increases the amount of spectacle and action without losing the heart. This film moves at a lightning pace and delivers a whole load of spectacular flying and battle scenes, but it’s also one of those animated films where you forget you’re watching an animated film, so much are you caught in the characters and their stories. There are also some stunningly beautiful visuals, like one character’s eerie first appearance above some clouds. Dreamworks used some new animation software here and it really pays off: we can now see emotion registering properly on CGI people’s faces, something that wasn’t really possible before and hindered CGI animation a bit for me.
Though there are still some laughs, most notably involving some rather badly treated sheep and, sadly, also Cate Blanchett’s Scottish [why Scottish anyway? Aren’t these Vikings?] accent, this is more serious and rather darker than the first film, with one death that has got some folk moaning, though complaints about it being unsuitable for kids are ridiculous considering how dark some kid’s movies were back in the ‘80’s. With a fantastic score by John Powell which is rich in themes and underscore [the animated movie seems to be increasingly the last refuge of the grand old-style symphonic film score], How To Train Your Dragon 2 joins Dragonslayer and The Flight Of Dragons as one of the great dragon movies [the variety of design alone is amazing]. It doesn’t seem to have blown the box office open like the first film, but the third film in this trilogy can’t come quick enough for this critic.