Oh, man. I fear this isn’t really going to be a review at all. More a vomit of love, giddy excitement and my brain turning back the clock some 30 years to a time where I believed in magic and a world where people with passion entertained. How to Train Your Dragon first came out in 2010 and was loosely based on one of the series of novels by Cressida Cowell. Directed by Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois the film was a critical and commercial success.

Uh oh. We have all heard of the curse of the sequel. A movie made to either ride on the waves of success of its predecessor, or one that will go the ‘add more explosions’ route in an attempt to better its parent. Praise be to Odin that this was not the case here! The movie is simply brilliant. I mean come on, baby dragons. BABY DRAGONS!

how-to-train-your-dragon-2-trailer

How to Train Your Dragon 2 is set some 5 years after the first movie, making Hiccup (Jay Baruchel in a role where I don’t want to kill him) and Toothless around twenty. Of course as the son of the Viking chief this means new responsibilities, ones our young hero doesn’t very much care for, instead preferring to remain free and airborne. We see this by his absence in the opening of the movie as the village is gathered together playing a game that kind of reminded me of Quidditch in Harry Potter, only with more sheep. Wanting to avoid his father and running from ‘the big talk’ Hiccup is instead out flying with Toothless, only this time Hiccup has his own wingsuit!

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After a bit of a crash landing the two find themselves in unknown territory where we discover that Hiccup is creating a map from all his travels; shortly after he is joined by his now-girlfriend Astrid (America Ferrera). While confiding in her about his misgivings on becoming chief – she thinks it’s the ‘best honour ever’ – the two notice  a column of smoke (all this is done while her dragon and Toothless play fight in the background, forgive yourselves for not paying attention to the two boring humans here). The source of smoke turns out to be bandits who are capturing dragons for big bad Drago Bludvist (Djimon Hounsou) and his dream of a dragon army!

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How to Train Your Dragon 2 then sets out on a wild quest that will have you laughing almost as much as you will be crying. And that is what sets this movie apart from the first – it dares to try being bold, and bold it is. We watch both Hiccup and Toothless go through really hard trials of friendship and what it means while at the same time Hiccup faces the realities of his family situation, both in some very touching scenes (even a sing song!) and some rather sad (bring the tissues). How to Train Your Dragon 2 has a far more mature feel to it when compared to the first. Instead of adding more of the same which many sequels inevitably do, DeBlois shifts the focus of the movie.

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On one hand we focus on the relationship between Toothless and Hiccup (thankfully still as entertaining and hysterical as ever – the expressions of Toothless this time round will have you coughing up your popcorn from laughter) but we are also allowed to glimpse the lives and feelings of others (namely two, but I won’t ruin the surprise) and that is what makes this such a well-rounded movie. Of course the action is absolutely fantastic! From gigantic dragons that breathe ice to scenes of literally hundreds of dragons fighting – even those suffering from the most intense form of ADD will sit mesmerized. Also baby dragons! Simply put the animation, coupled with the epicness (is that a word?) of the sound score, make this akin to a visceral lobotomy.

ooo

How to Train Your Dragon 2 is a masterpiece. It isn’t often that the sequel manages to equal and in some cases supersede the original but in my opinion this is what DeBlois has done. It’s a big movie, with big themes, big action and big heart and to cram all of this into 1hr 45 minutes without bursting (like The Amazing Spider-Man 2) is a testament to the skills of DeBlois and his team. If you have only one movie to watch this year I would say make it about dragons. Toothless is the most lovable and arguably most emotional CGI character ever created and with Hiccup completing the team you are in for the ride of your life.

Last Updated: June 18, 2014

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11 Comments

  1. James Francis

    June 18, 2014 at 12:58

    Yeah, I’ll wait and see. You and Kervyn have a strange habit of going gaga over average animated films.

    Reply

    • Rince&exhale

      June 18, 2014 at 13:04

      *Movies you think are average* 😛 Nah, this was streets ahead of Lego: The Movie.

      Reply

      • James Francis

        June 18, 2014 at 13:17

        Is it streets ahead of Wreck ‘Em Ralph? That was also a flimsy script and average characters rescued by constant pop culture intervention…

        Reply

        • Rince&exhale

          June 18, 2014 at 13:32

          It is indeed. But then again you like a bour 1% of the movies that others love so you will probably hate it,

          Reply

          • James Francis

            June 18, 2014 at 14:35

            It’s interesting that because I am more critical it is assumed I dislike most popular movies.

    • Kervyn Cloete

      June 18, 2014 at 14:24

      Let the record state that the vastly overwhelming majority of the movie-going world (critics and audiences alike) loved The LEGO Movie to bits, not just us.

      As for this, I really enjoyed it. But I didn’t find it as good as Nick. The story was a bit predictable in places and the gags weren’t as fresh. Maybe a solid 3.5 from me. Prefer the first one, to be honest.

      Reply

      • James Francis

        June 18, 2014 at 14:33

        To quote Penn & Teller: Candle In The Wind is the biggest selling single in history. That doesn’t mean it’s good :p

        Reply

        • Kervyn Cloete

          June 18, 2014 at 14:39

          Hence why I said “critics and audiences alike”. There are lots of movies that are not highly regarded, but still very successful. This is highly regarded by almost everybody and very successful.

          But everybody has different tastes (for example, you loved Bad Grandpa, I barely cracked a grin), and I’ve learned to respect that.

          Reply

          • James Francis

            June 18, 2014 at 15:14

            Except that I’d never give Bad Grandpa a high score. There is a difference between a good movie and a movie that was simply entertaining. Lego might have been fun, but it’s not worthy of a 4 or 5. It was a bag of cliches, copied jokes and references that may work well in a package, but didn’t push the concept. Just compare it to Team America and the difference in caliber is very obvious. Ten years from now TA will still be a classic. Lego won’t. The art of the review is being replaced by the navel-gazing perspectives of fans.

  2. Kromas

    June 18, 2014 at 13:13

    I just finished Defenders of Berk last night. My body is ready for this movie.

    Reply

  3. DarthZA

    July 3, 2014 at 16:06

    I know I was late to watch this one, but now that I have, I disagree with your review. Besides some really bad voiceacting, the movie was really good technically, but I just felt the story was missing something. A solid 3.5 at most from me. I still think Lego Movie was at least a 4.5.

    Reply

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