Director Dean DeBlois’ How to Train Your Dragon 2 is a sequel that likely won’t disappoint fans of the first. The story manages to maintain the same amount of heart as the first with its humor and lovable characters. Although, this movie didn’t have as big of an impact on me as its predecessor, there’s no denying that the animation and plot development is, at the very least, very close to what a sequel should be like.
The story this time around is a little bit more on the serious side, since it is taking place 5 years later and dealing with an older Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) who is coping with getting older, and figuring out his role in his community. He is pressured by his father, Stoick (Gerard Butler), to one day fill his shoes as Chief of Berk. Hiccup doesn’t see himself as a leader, however, and he would rather ride around with Toothless and discover new lands. Berk has changed a lot since the first one. The land is teeming with dragons now and everyone has their own dragon to ride. On one of their adventures, Hiccup and Astrid (America Ferrera) come across a destroyed land that is covered in ice, and here they meet Eret (Kit Harrington), a dragon trapper who tries to capture Hiccup and Astrid’s dragons. Eret says that there are other dragon riders out there, and he also claims to work for a man named Drago (Djimon Hounsou), who is building a dragon army. Hiccup is convinced that if he talks to Drago, he will be able to convince him that everyone can live in peace. In the meantime, he discovers a huge cave full of all new kinds of dragons and encounters a mysterious dragon rider.
All of the same great characters are back for this sequel, including Tuffnut (T.J. Miller), the hilarious Ruffnut (Kristen Wiig), and the two boys trying to win her affections, Snotlout (Jonah Hill) and Fishlegs (Christopher Mintz-Plasse). Along with Gobber (Craig Ferguson), this group brings the movie back into a light, humorous tone when things start to get heavy. One of the funniest scenes is when Ruffnut sees Eret for the first time, and her eyes catch his muscles glistening in the sun. He shoots a net at her as she’s swooping in on her dragon, and she opens her arms wide and embraces the capture, saying, “Take me!” So, there are probably a few scenes in this movie that are more geared towards adults, but all that stuff will most likely go right over the kids’ heads anyway. Kids will probably love it regardless.
There is a lot of beautiful animation here, the action is executed so well, and all the swooping and soaring done by the characters and their dragons makes you wish you had one of your own. Toothless is such an adorable, playful dragon, you can’t help but love him. All of the dragons are really humanized in a way that they each have their own little personalities, and you grow to care for them as you would any of the actual human characters in the movie. The sentimentality sets in when the scenes slow down their pace, and the characters really have a chance to develop, learn things, and mature. Hiccup believes his responsibility to his people is to risk his own life by going out to find Drago and stop him from coming to destroy his village, instead of battening down the hatches and waiting for him to come, as his father suggests. He also learns that even though he has made peace between dragons and his people, dragons aren’t perfect. Under the control of bad people, they can be deadly, even the dragons he trusts can make mistakes. It’s a coming-of-age story that is presented in a different, fun way that is enjoyable for both kids and adults.
How to Train Your Dragon 2 is a story full of well-developed characters, wit and humor, worthy underlying messages, beautiful animation, adorable and scary looking dragons, and enough fun to hold kids off for a while until the next animated movie comes out (I have no idea what that’ll be). People who loved the first movie as much as I did will appreciate this sequel and all that it is trying to achieve. Some may not like it as much, some may like it more. Regardless, I believe they are both very close to being on the same level. It is definitely worth going to see in theaters.