Movie Review: How to Train Your Dragon 2 (2014)

How to Train Your Dragon 2
Five years after the events of How to Train Your Dragon, the town of Berk is a very different place than it was.  Instead of Vikings and Dragons warring with one another, now they live in symbiotic harmony; each viking having become a dragon rider like the boy (now man) who brought them together: Hiccup.  Seriously wouldn’t you try to phase that name to something a little more manly by the time you’re 20, which is how old Hiccup is as we rejoin the adventures of the dragon-riding Vikings of Berk.  So does our return adventure live up to the surprise hit that was the original?  Not quite, but it’s still a great deal of fun.

How to Train Your Dragon

I’m going to deal with what I felt was wrong with this film right off the bat so we can focus on what it did right. The film felt a bit sterile. It wasn’t as charming or as funny as its predecessor and I never found myself drawn into the story in the way I was the first time around. No more so is this demonstrated when (GIANT SPOILER I’M NOT RUINING) happened and I felt really nothing at all. Just as with their real-life compatriots, animated sequels can suffer from bigger being mistaken for better and there’s more than a little of that going on in HTTYD2.


This is not to say at all that the film is bad, because it’s absolutely not.  The flying sequences are gorgeous.  Hiccup and Toothless soaring together through the clouds is just fantastic.  The animation in general is the best I’ve ever seen outside of a Pixar film.


The story revolves around Hiccup finding his long-lost mother.  While he thought she was dead for 20 year, she’s been running a dragon preserve inside an iceberg thinking that the Vikings of Berk were still fervently anti-dragon.  Kudos to Hiccup’s dad, Stoic, for giving her a big hug instead of bringing up the whole, “I enjoyed raising our child by myself,”….thing.  Hiccup’s mom isn’t just a dragon enthusiast.  She’s some kind of dragon wizard.  She’s also a bit off her nut after two decades in a glacier.

Our problem amidst all this family reunioning is that evil villain Drago is raising a dragon army and all he needs to complete it is the enormous, Godzilla-size dragon living in the iceberg dragon preserve.  Dragons follow the lead of alphas, to the point of almost becoming drones in their presence and this leads to tragedy as Toothless becomes a slave of the Alpha Dragon under Drago’s command.  Battles ensue and-again-Berk is a very different place at the end of the film then it was at the beginning.


The first Dragon film was such a charming surprise and I’ve watched it a number of times since it was originally released.  I don’t know that I’d want to necessarily watch this installment again, and that comes down to the writing.  The same spirit of joy just isn’t present and, while it certainly is a good film, it’s not a great one.  That being said, when How to Train Your Dragon 3 comes out in 2017, I’ll be there to see what happens next.  It’s Vikings and dragons.  That’ll always get me to show up!

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