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He Said, She Said Review Site

How to Train Your Dragon 2

What She said:

She

Ahhhh, the dreaded sequel.  Sequels can be particularly frustrating if you really, really liked the first movie, as I did with How to Train Your Dragon.  Actually, I believe when that movie was released, I chose it as my favorite movie of the year.  That’s how much I enjoyed it.  Anyway, they made a sequel, the notion of which sent chills down my spine.  I was excited to have all my favorite characters back, including the adorable Toothless, but I was also reluctant to watch the film, knowing that so often bad sequels can ruin a franchise.  Fortunately, when I finally got around to splurging on this movie—not until its DVD release—I wasn’t disappointed.  While I wouldn’t say that this second movie is as good as the first, it still manages to be funny, action-packed, and well-written.

How to Train Your Dragon 2

We join the Viking village of Berk five years after the events of the first How to Train Your Dragon movie.  Most of the characters look the same, just a little taller.  Hiccup is a grown-up version of his old self, and his father believes he’s ready to succeed him as chieftain.  But Hiccup is nervous and not so sure about the whole notion.  Oh yeah, he’s also still rollin’ with his girlfriend Astrid, and they’re cute together. 

The two of them are out for a stroll (on dragon-back) when they come upon this huge block of blue ice where dragon trappers have become stranded.  The group is led by this angry fella named Eret.  The trappers try to take Hiccup and Astrid hostage, but fail.  However, Hiccup is distressed to hear about this scary dragon tyrant named Drago Bludvist (pronounced “blood-fist”).  The guy is putting together a dragon army and seems to have ill intentions for anyone who gets in his way.

Hiccup goes back and tells his father who is also clearly alarmed.  He’s actually met Bludvist in the past and watched him murder a bunch of people.  He says that the village must prepare for war, but this does not sit well with Hiccup.  You see, he’s still an idealist who believes that anyone can be negotiated with.  He runs off in an attempt to find and talk to Drago.

Spoiler alert:  On his way, he finds a colony of dragons led by his long-lost mother, Valka.  It seems that Hiccup’s gift with dragons is more of an inherited thing.  Valka lives on an ice island that is ruled by a huge alpha dragon.  She explains that apparently the alphas have this ability to control the other dragons around them, which is an important plot point for later on.  Hiccup, his father, and his mother are reunited, but the good stuff doesn’t last too long because Drago shows up and is ready for a showdown.  Fighting ensures, and some lives are lost.  It’s sad and also triumphant, and hey, Toothless is still so darn cute.

How to Train Your Dragon 2

How to Train Your Dragon 2 presents a pretty fast-paced, action packed film.  While there’s always a sense of peril and conflict, there’s also a surprising amount of joy and happiness.  And, of course, some of the fresh and poignant humor of the first film is back this time around.  I wouldn’t say that this movie is quite as funny as the original, but there are some really cute, laugh-out-loud moments. 

The story, while interesting, was a little hard to follow at times.  Actually, I found this to be a problem only in the earlier phases of the film.  I felt like I had to be told a lot, rather than shown, which indicates a little bit of weakness in the writing.  But once I figured everything out, I did like the general storyline. 

Like with the first, I found myself latching on to the characters in this film.  Hiccup is a likable, yet naïve sort of guy who is driven by his internal sense of right and wrong.  I think he teaches us a lot about being passionate about our convictions and the value of standing up for what we believe in.  Of course, he’s also flawed, and we also learn valuable lessons from that.  His father, Stoick the Vast, who was so thick-headed in the first film, is solidly devoted to Hiccup and genuinely cares about him.  Their family dynamic is a joy to watch.  The addition of Valka is also nice.  She’s somewhat cold and socially awkward, but you can tell that she has a good heart and is just severely misguided.  Still, I have trouble forgiving her for abandoning her family.  But I guess it’s water under the bridge…

I love, love, love the Night Fury, Toothless.  I want a Toothless.  Actually, I’d like two Toothlesses.  He is the most adorable thing I’ve ever seen.  He’s got a dragon’s sense of attitude, but with the loyalty of a dog and some very cat-like mannerisms.  And those retractable teeth!  Oh, so cute.

How to Train Your Dragon 2

Ok, enough fawning over the dragon. 

Visually, this film is just as lustrous as the first.  Everything in the dragon world is super colorful, and the lines of the animation are crisp.  I really enjoy the detail that you see on Hiccup’s face when they do close-ups.  It’d be easy to just color him in beige, but they dot his nose with freckles and give this older incarnation of him a little bit of stubble.  For computer-animation, it’s extremely complex.  The same richness is true for the detail of the dragons.  Each is unique in how they’re presented on-screen, and they really worked every end of the color wheel.  Even during fight scenes, when there’s tons of movement, this film looks great.

All in all, How to Train Your Dragon 2 is a solid entry to the franchise.  It boasts an all-star voice cast who do a good job at giving life to the characters.  It’s fun to watch and beautiful on-screen.  I found some weakness in the storyline, but it was still solid enough to keep me engaged and captivated.  Not as good as the original, but also not too far off the mark.

Thumbs up.

What He said:

He

It’s five years after the events of the first movie. The people of the island of Berk still live in peace with the dragons since Hiccup and his companion – a dragon named Toothless – brought them together.
Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) is now a man. A young one, but definitely an adult, because his father is considering stepping down as the chief of their village and letting his son take over.  Hiccup wants nothing to do with this and spends most of his time mapping out nearby islands with Toothless. He genuinely enjoys and wants to do this, but it’s also a perfect excuse to avoid his father Stoick(Gerard Butler).

How to Train Your Dragon 2

His girlfriend Astrid (America Ferrera) comes looking for him. She ribs him about avoiding responsibility. Astrid was a love interest in the first movie, but they are a bonafide couple in this movie. They have good chemistry too. I really enjoyed seeing the next stage in their characters’ lives.

So anyway, the two of them decided to take their dragons out to do some more exploring. They come across a group of dragon hunters, who are led by a strapping lad named Eret (Kit Harrington). Eret says that he and his men are working for another dragon hunter named Drago Bludvist (Djimon Hounsou). He says that they have to take both them and their dragons to Drago pr face severe consequences. Hiccup, Toothless, Astrid, and her dragon manage to get away.
They go back to Berk and try to tell Stoick what they experienced, but he is so focused on preparing Hiccup for his new leadership role, that he dismisses most of what Hiccup says. But when Hiccup mentions Drago by name, Stoick stops dead in his tracks. Stoick is very familiar with Drago. Apparently he is a madman who approached Stoick and the leaders of other villages a long time ago. 

He says that they have to prepare for war. Hiccup refuses. He says he can negotiate with Drago. If you remember from the first movie, Hiccup has his own way of doing things. He’s not a typical fighting. He’s not big or strong, but he’s smart, inventive, and peaceful. He leaves without his father’s permission on a mission to find Drago and convince him there has to be another way.

Without giving too much away, he meets another dragon rider along the way. It turns out to be his long lost mother. I don’t feel terrible giving this away, because news of this leaked before the movie’s released, and the She has already told you. Her named is Valka and she shares Hiccup’s love of dragons. She’s voiced by Cate Blanchett.

This was not as good as the first movie. Not many sequels are. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t a good movie though. This movie is still very funny, and like the first, a legitimate action/fantasy. 

Hiccup and Toothless are simply a great team. They were destined to be together. They are funny together, care about each other, and are completely and totally dedicated to each other. They go on all these adventures one another and are really tight as a result. They are also still really endearing together. In their downtime, they still goof off like two old pals. They are best buds – equals in Hiccup’s eyes. But they also have this owner/pet relationship that is both funny and charming. I also liked seeing them at a different stage in their lives. Hiccup is a man now and a budding leader. He is faced this decisions he would have never dreamed he would have to in the original movie.

Like the original, there’s a lot of touching moments too. Hiccup get to meet his mother and Stoick gets to reunite with his wife – though I have to agree with the She that they were a little too forgiving of her too quickly. And again, Hiccup faces he didn’t have to before. His mother was missing since he was a child, so he hasn’t met her for all intents and purposes.

How to Train Your Dragon 2

I also love the colors and designs of the dragons. They are fantastic. I love Toothless. First of all, he is very unique looking. I’ve never seen a dragon portrayed quite like him. He kind of reminds you something out of Pokemon.  He’s really quite cute. But when it’s time to get down to business, he’s not one to be messed with. The completely different aspects of his personality are great and his design portrays both perfectly. I also thought Valka’s dragon had a simply awesome design. It was unique, but also had a lot of features you’d expect in a dragon. Every time I saw it, I found myself saying, “Now that’s cool.” The larger dragons, called alphas in this movie, are awe-inspiring. Some of the smaller dragons have a softer or even comedic look. It depends on their personalities. But the big ones look like something out of a Godzilla movie. They are a sight to be seen. The colors and features on them are truly majestic…or monstrous in the case of the evil ones. It gives the movie legitimacy as fantasy flick.

These are also great action adventure movies. Good flight sequences, dragon fights, and sword play. The first time Hiccup busted out his sword, my eyes almost popped out of my head. That was some cool stuff right there.

Rating: Thumbs up.

This movie review was written for your reading pleasure on November 16, 2014.