Five years after the acceptance of dragons, life could not be better for the people of Berk. While Astrid and the others spend their days competing in dragon races, Hiccup continues to go out and test his inventions and map out the land far beyond the cliffs. While Stoick has offered him the role of chief, Hiccup continues to struggle with feeling like the role is just not him. While out with Astrid, they spot some smoke in the distance and go to check it out. Coming across dragon hunters, they learn that there is a great threat coming and an army ready to take out the peace in Berk. Hiccup disobeys his father to go find and meet with this new threat but instead get captured by an unknown assailant and a gang of dragons. He challenges his captor, who then reveals that she is actually his mother and explains why she has been gone for 20 years. After catching up, they join together to try to stop the growing threat.
Starring: Jay Baruchel (Hiccup), Cate Blanchett (Valka), Gerard Butler (Stoick), Craig Ferguson (Gobber), America Ferrera (Astrid), Jonah Hill (Snotlout), Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Fishlegs), TJ Miller (Tuffnut), Kristen Wiig (Ruffnut), Djimon Hounsou (Drago), Kit Harrington (Eret), Kieron Elliott (Hoarh the Haggard)
The casting for this film was mostly the same from the first one. Baruchel continued to give his main character the right mixture of conflict, bravery, and remorse. The story helped to make his unlikely hero element fit the theme. Ferrera continued to promote her headstrong personality as well. Newcomer Blanchett balanced her character to mirror characteristics of Baruchel while promoting a more boldness. Hounsou was a bit reserved in the line department but promoted the scare factor fairly well.
This sequel by Dean DuBlois had all of the excitement and majesty of the first film but with even more heart with a compelling story of love, loss, and searching for one’s purpose. Hiccup always felt like he was different. While he proved that with the way he brought dragons to Berk, he still knew that he did not want to simply follow in his father’s footsteps. The meeting with the dragon poachers brought up a new mission, but brought my more into his life. Reconnecting with his mother gave him a sense of who he was, but it was not until he finally confronted Drago that he truly developed full respect for his father and for what it means to be a chief. Though it had only been a short moment that his family had been reunited, the chaos brought forth by Drago forced Hiccup to feel like he finally knew who he was and what he was meant to do.
The film’s story is a little uneven in very brief moments but the emotional appeal is extremely strong. The reuniting of a family after 20 years was something that truly tugged at the heart strings. Hiccup’s reaction to finally meeting his mother was a tempered one, full of shock, but the reaction by Stoick was that much more touching. The film promoted the power of family and of finding one’s destiny in connection to one’s past. When fate befell Stoick, Hiccup was forced to challenge himself to see the true hero that existed beneath. The scene actually had the emotional effect similar to the stampede scene from The Lion King. Hiccup’s heroism also sends an excellent message to kids in the way it promotes finding one’s path while respecting that of their parents.
How to Train Your Dragon 2 is one of the best animated films, and among the best of any genre, so far this year. Seeing it in 3D is also worth the cost.
Dan’s Rating: 4.5/5