“Drago is coming for our dragons. We have to stop him together,” says Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel) to his father, Stoick (Gerard Butler), and his mother, Valka (Cate Blanchett), who he recently discovered is alive and has been creating a safe haven for dragons in the animated action, fantasy adventure sequel How to Train Your Dragon 2.
It’s been five years since Hiccup and the dragon Toothless became best friends and united the Vikings on the island of Berk with the dragons they used to fear and fight. While everyone on the island now has their own pet dragon and everyone’s favorite pastime is dragon races, Hiccup and Toothless soar the skies mapping new territories and discovering new lands, a pastime that bothers Hiccup’s dad who’s ready to retire and make his son the new chief of the Vikings. During one of their outings, Hiccup and Toothless come across a band of dragon hunters who work for a man named Drago who, to their horror, wants all the dragons enslaved and under his control.
After warning everyone on Berk about Drago, Hiccup and Stoick once again disagree on how to handle the crisis, with Stoick only wanting to put up the best defense and wait to be attacked by the madman and Hiccup determined to find Drago and try to reason with him. Against his father’s orders (big surprise, right?), Hiccup and Toothless soar out to find Drago and make him listen to reason. On their way they run into a mysterious dragon rider who kidnaps them and brings them to a secret ice cave, which Hiccup discovers is a home and safe haven for hundreds of wild dragons. The other big surprise for Hiccup is that the mysterious dragon rider is his own mother Valka who he and his father believed to be dead. She warns Hiccup of the deadly threat Drago is to all dragons and that he’ll never listen to reason and won’t stop until every dragon is under his control. Hiccup and Toothless quickly realize that they will have to lead everyone on Berk to fight for their dragons and defeat Drago and his massive dragon army.
Thrilling, visually stunning, and heartfelt, How to Train Your Dragon 2 is the best animated sequel to hit the big screen in years. The film looks fantastic with its rich, bright, breathtaking animation. The flying scenes with Hiccup and Toothless are amazing and are sure to have the audience feeling as though they’re soaring right along with them, especially when viewed in 3D.
Jay Baruchel is perfect as the voice of Hiccup, the used-to-be hapless young Viking who has become a true adventurer and leader of his own. Still unwilling to try to be like his father – mostly because he still thinks he can never measure up to the man – this older Hiccup knows his own strengths and values and has confidence in himself as a peacemaker. Gerard Butler is great as Hiccup’s gruff, overbearing but lovable father Stoick and Craig Ferguson is hilarious as the voice of Gobber, Stoick’s loyal friend who just like the first film always has something inappropriate or outlandish to say at just the wrong time. Cate Blanchett is a welcome addition to the cast as Hiccup’s long-lost mother. She brings both a strength and sensitivity to the role and adds insight into Hiccup’s personality as well.
How to Train Your Dragon 2 has a strong script with an original continuation story and it’s full of laugh-out-loud humor with some great one-liners and plenty of comical antics with the dragons. The film has plenty of heart, in particular the scenes between Hiccup and Toothless are emotionally engaging, and how the villain Drago threatens to destroy their friendship forever really hits viewers hard. The film also has a stirring soundtrack that enhances wonderfully the action and the emotion of the scenes.
The only problem with the film is in the middle when action, humor, and even comical dragon antics take a backseat to make room for far too many flashback backstories and a reunion which feels way too long.
Still, with its breathtaking flying scenes, stirring action, and laugh-out-loud humor, How to Train Your Dragon 2 is a great adventure for any family member ages seven to 70 and should be seen up on the big screen in glorious 3D.
How to Train Your Dragon 2 is rated PG for adventure action and some mild rude humor.
– Reviewed by Kevin Finnerty
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