Directed By: Dean DeBlois
Starring: Jay Baruchel, Cate Blanchett, Gerard Butler
“You’re as beautiful as the day I lost you.”
I can remember my first screening of How to Train your Dragon back in 2010. I can remember not being excited for it due to it having some really bad trailers, but there really wasn’t anything else to see that weekend so I thought, why not? Everything in that theater was against me, screaming babies, and the worst childish trailers imaginable etc. But once that film started playing my opinion instantly changed and it became one of my favorite movies. I would go on to see the film in IMAX 3D and own it on blu-ray, hell, I even own the amazing soundtrack. So for this sequel, there was no doubt in my mind that I would see this in IMAX opening day, and I’m glad to report, buckle your seat belts ladies and gents: its one helleva ride.
“You have the heart of a chief. And the soul of a dragon.”
Picking up from the first one, about five to six years later, we find the village of Berk now home to many different kinds of dragons living in harmony, even with their own sports. While the villagers are happy, Hiccup (Baruchel) still longs for the adventure and away from everything so he spends his time exploring and making the world a smaller place, keeping a map on him at all times. He and Toothless, his dragon, are experimenting with differing kinds of flying techniques and being free and one with each other. This all changes when they are nearly captured by a band of trappers who explain that they hate dragon riders and attempt to send them to their leader Drago Bludvist. As for the plot, I refuse to say any more.
This truly is a film where the less you know about the plot, the better. In other words DON’T watch any of the trailers (other than the first teaser) unless you want to be spoiled on a few major plot twists. For the first film the main central theme was about discovery in one’s self and the excitement of riding a dragon for the first time. With this second entry its all about the sheer rush and pure joy of riding, leading to some of the best cinematography I’ve seen this year. Truly, the dragon riding sequences are some of the best in animation history. You thought Avatar was good in that department? Take a seat, lemme show you how it’s done.
The story for the larger part is much darker in tone compared to the first film and this is seriously where the direction and story shines. This isn’t a retread of the first film; but it expands upon the world that was set up in the first entry and makes it feel real. I will also say that, at certain moments, I did start to see myself tear up, not only at something genuinely sad happening on screen, but also at the wonder of feeling like I was flying. Yes this is a moment where the IMAX really did make me feel as if I was transported to another world, full of magic and excitement. But one thing this film has that many others don’t, is quiet character moments where there is no dialogue and the film can breathe, these little moments are what makes classic filmmaking. Am I saying that this is one day a classic? …its hard to be sure, but my inner fan boy wants to say yes.
The animation feels like its had a serious upgrade since 2010 with the facial animation taking a serious jump in quality offering greater realism with most of the characters, especially Hiccup and Stoic (Butler). Details were so vast and realistic that I was simply wondering what was animated and what was real at times. In all honesty, the water effects and snow effects are some of the best I’ve ever seen and are completely photo-real.
If I had to list anything that was bad, I sadly do have a few gripes. The main villain really is quite a one-dimensional character that will “rule the world” and honestly, never directly does anything bad that tops the previous antagonist from the first film. I also found the end fight to be not as intense or epic as the first film with Hiccup/Toothless vs. the Red Death. These are very small grips as everything else was close to perfection.
Would I recommend this film? Have you honestly been reading this article? YES!!! I could go on, and on about this film all day till I am blue in the face. I can not recommend this film enough, see it in IMAX or a large screen format in 3D if possible and prepare for one of the year’s best films. I personally can’t wait to see it again and own it on blu-ray when it comes out. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!