When How to Train Your Dragon was released in 2014, it was a huge hit! Both critics and the hoi polloi raved over it! I considered it my favorite Dreamworks Animation film at the time (later taken over by Rise of the Guardians)! So, as you can imagine, all of us (including myself) were awaiting this second installment in the trilogy.
This film takes place 5 years after the events of the first film. On the land of Berk, Vikings and dragons live in harmony. Our protagonist, Hiccup (voiced again by Jay Baruchel) spends his time flying his dragon, Toothless, in order to discover new lands that were once unreachable to the Vikings.
But, he soon discovers trouble in these new lands when he hears of and eventually meets Drago Bludvist (voiced by Djimon Hounsou), a dragon hunter set on taking over the world with his dragon army.
I really can’t reveal more of the plot as it would spoil too much (even though the trailers for this movie already spoiled a lot, but still).
So how’d I like this film? I loved it just as I did the first one! Let’s talk about the good aspects.
First off, there’s the animation! Like the last film, the animation’s simply gorgeous and intricate. I mean, animating water, ice, and icy water isn’t exactly an easy thing to do, yet the animators make it look super easy!
This movie also features hundreds (or even thousands) of dragons, all of different types, colors, sizes, and shapes. You’d think they would run out of ideas on how these different dragon will look or behave, but they manage to be imaginative and give every dragon its own personality and its own distinct look. This feat alone makes the film deserving of an Oscar nomination! Heck, I’d say this film could WIN the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature just on its animation alone!
The second good aspect is the story. The story is…somewhat simple, but it works for the movie. It does what a sequel is supposed to do: further the stories of the characters whom we’ve grown to love. It doesn’t rehash the story of nor promote the same morals/lessons from the previous film.
The third good aspect is the relationships between the characters. I’m talking about 2 couples in particular. One, I won’t mention as it is a bit of a spoiler, but the other is the relationship between Hiccup and Astrid (voiced again by America Ferrera). They’re still a teenage couple and it’s alluded to that they’re set to be married. And what I love about it is that they’re so much in love!
They don’t have ANY disagreements or fighting what’s so ever! They’re open about communicating with each other! And they’re so playful with each other! There’s a scene where Astrid does a (pretty bad) impression of Hiccup that also involves her imitating his “shoulder movements”. You’d think that this is just the voice actors improvising (well, it might be) and that this piece of dialogue would be cut from the film. Rather, this remains in the film! You’d think it kinda weird to devote time and effort to animating a pretty short, almost irrelevant scene. But, this is one of those scenes that just prove the reality of the characters. Couples tease each other all the time both verbally and physically! And when you watch this scene, you literally assume Hiccup and Astrid to be a real couple and not just animated characters on a screen! I feel that I haven’t explained this well, but check it out in the movie and you’ll see what I mean.
And lemme just finish off by saying that Astrid is probably the best girlfriend ever! She not only teases Hiccup lovingly, but she comforts and reassures him when he needs that proverbial pat on his back. She plays with his hair nonchalantly. She kisses him on the cheek out of the blue. She defends his honor in front of others when he’s not there to defend himself. She advises him when he’s going to make a wrong decision, but also trusts his decisions anyway. She’s just like an embodiment of loyalty and an incredible companion to Hiccup!
And I think Hiccup is a loyal, loving, perfect companion to Astrid too, but I may be biased since I’m a guy. So you gals, let me know in the comments if you think Hiccup is a good boyfriend.
Now, let’s talk about the not-so-good stuff. First off, we have the voice acting. The voice acting in this film ranges from “satisfying, but not amazing” to “you’re trying so hard that it comes off as bad”.
That’s all I’ll say for that. The second not-so-good aspect is the supporting characters. In the first film, we were introduced to other kids besides Hiccup: Fishlegs, Snotlout, Tuffnut, and Ruffnut (voiced again by Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Jonah Hill, T.J. Miller, and Kristen Wiig, respectively). The story in the first film was the usual one of Hiccup not fitting in with these other kids, them not liking him, and then he befriending them after teaching them the errors of their ways regarding dragons. So, they had a purpose in the first film.
In this film, however, there really is no reason to have these characters other than the fact that maybe fans wanted to see these characters again. They’re not given any important sub-plots or sub-missions. I don’t even think their dialogue adds up to more than 100 lines altogether. I really felt that having these characters in the film just added to the padding.
And thirdly, I have a problem with one of the messages that this movie “promotes” and that’s the “moral” of “not listening”. Hiccup (and other characters, but mostly Hiccup) disobeys orders from his father in this movie. And later on, it’s shown that his disobedience led its way to something good so much so that Hiccup’s father, Stoick (voiced again by Gerard Butler) “commends” Hiccup for not listening to him.
And yes, I know that in the situations presented in this movie that not listening to authority ended up doing some good. But, I feel that this idea of “not listening” and “doing what you want to do” is being promoted and taught in films quite often nowadays, especially in kids films, that I fear kids will get the wrong message. Yes, there are times when you have to override authority and make a better decision, especially if the authority is authorizing something unjust or something like that.
But, I feel that when kids see these movies, they’ll get the idea that “listening to authorities” and “obeying” them are things that have little to no relevance or importance and shouldn’t be cared about in ANY circumstance. I fear that some mother will tell her kid to clean its bedroom, and the kid will be like,
Maybe this is just a pet peeve with me and maybe I’m looking too deeply into this, but thankfully, it’s the last negative aspect I can mention about the film.
If you haven’t seen it yet, go ahead and watch How to Train Your Dragon 2! It’s an epic masterpiece and an amazing sequel!