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Five Views: How To Train Your Dragon 2

June 13, 2014

How To Train Your Dragon 2 Poster

How To Train Your Dragon 2 – A 20th Century Fox Release
Release Date: June 13th, 2014
Rated PG for some scary scenes and action
Running time: 102 minutes

Dean DeBlois (dir.)

Dean DeBlois (writer)

Based on the book series by Cressida Cowell

John Powell (music)

Jay Baruchel as Hiccup (voice)
Cate Blanchett as Valka (voice)
Gerard Butler as Stoick (voice)
Craig Ferguson as Gobber (voice)
America Ferrera as Astrid (voice)
Jonah Hill as Snotlout (voice)
Christopher Mintz-Plasse as Fishlegs (voice)
T.J. Miller as Tuffnut (voice)
Kristen Wiig as Ruffnut (voice)
Djimon Hounsou as Drago (voice)
Kit Harington as Eret (voice)
Randy Thom as Toothless (voice)

How To Train Your Dragon 2

©20th Century Fox. All Rights Reserved.
Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and Toothless in How To Train Your Dragon 2.

Our reviews below:


How To Train Your Dragon 2 Review By John Corrado

**** (out of 4)

Four years after exceeding expectations with their sweeping masterpiece How To Train Your Dragon, DreamWorks Animation continues the saga of Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and the lovable Toothless in How To Train Your Dragon 2, a spectacular sequel that lives up to the potential of the first film.

The Vikings of Berk used to fear dragons, but have now come to embrace the creatures, racing them for sport and riding them for transportation.  Although his father Stoick (Gerard Butler) hopes that he will follow in his footsteps, Hiccup is more interested in mapping their surrounding lands, travelling to unexplored territories with his girlfriend Astrid (America Ferrera).  But their world changes when they meet the the mysterious Dragon Rider Valka (Cate Blanchett), and the creatures face a new threat from the ruthless Drago (Djimon Hounsou), an illegal trapper who is looking for war.

The sequences in the air are once again breathtaking, and the animated landscapes are gorgeous to behold, enhanced by the flawless use of 3D.  The stylistic character designs continue to fit perfectly with the rest of the world, with the main characters having been given subtle updates to look more like adults instead of the teenagers they were the first time around.  The entire cast is excellent, with Jay Baruchel’s distinctive voice perfectly matching the movements and personality of the main character.  Gobber (Craig Ferguson) gets one of the funniest lines, providing an interesting perspective on his character.

Then there’s Toothless, who steals our hearts all over again.  His scenes of playfulness are delightful, and his charming relationship with Hiccup is tested in a profoundly moving way.  Both in character design and personality, Toothless has also never been more like the equally adorable and complex alien protagonist from Disney’s 2002 triumph Lilo & Stitch, which first put the filmmaking team of Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders on the map.

Dean DeBlois takes over solo duty on How To Train Your Dragon 2, and he deftly handles writing and directing this sequel on his own.  This is quite simply a wonderful piece of storytelling, and every time we worry that the screenplay will become predictable, the film takes us places that are deeper and more resonant.  This is a beautifully written film, filled with character depth and moments of heartfelt emotion, offering some dramatic twists that eschew predictability at every turn.

The characters have matured in the four years since the first film, and How To Train Your Dragon 2 will likely resonate most with a slightly older audience, rich with subtext about finding peace instead of waging war.  This sequel deals with some surprisingly heavy themes of loss and forgiveness even when such an act seems impossible, fuelled by a heartbreaking turn in the last act that hits hard and packs a genuine emotional punch.  There is a sense of poignancy to the ensuing scenes, and it’s hard not to be moved by the film.

As a franchise continuation, this second instalment comes together perfectly in a way that recalls its Star Wars counterpart The Empire Strikes Back.  A spectacular and strikingly mature sequel that beautifully expands upon the mythology and emotion of the first film, while taking the ongoing story in some deeper and exciting new directions, How To Train Your Dragon 2 is one of the best movies of the year.


How To Train Your Dragon 2 Review By Erin V.

**** (out of 4)

How To Train Your Dragon was easily one of my top three films of 2010.  And the score from that film still sits high atop my chart of all-time favourites.  So needless to say, I was heavily anticipating this sequel and wondering whether it would live up to my feelings about the first film.

How To Train Your Dragon 2 starts off five years after the first film ended.  The residents of Berk are happily living side-by-side with their dragons, and enjoy games such as dragon racing.  But Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) is often off exploring with Toothless, finding new islands and looking for new species of dragon.  He has a suit that enables him to glide and a fire sword that calms dragons – and seemingly is ready for anything.  But what they are searching for turns out to lead them into something way beyond what they could have imagined or can handle on their own.

Accidentally finding a group of dragon smugglers and a mysterious woman who is trying to thwart the smugglers efforts, catapults Hiccup and the residents of Berk into a fight that they may not be ready for, and responsibilities and realities they may not be ready to face.  While the first film took us along for the ride as Hiccup first befriended Toothless and showed another side to the dragons, this time around they are tested to the limits of what they can face together.  Themes of forgiveness and living with your choices are strong here, as well as where the lines between good and bad lie and if it is dependent on the leaders we follow.

It is a hard film to say much about since it would be a shame to spoil it.  There are twists here, and darker moments to be sure.  I’m not sure how I would have taken to it when I was a very young kid, only because of where some of the character’s stories end up or what they end up doing.  But for older kids, teens and adults, this is a powerful film, and a very strong sequel to the excellent How To Train Your Dragon.  It leaves me excited for the third instalment, which I hope and trust will follow in the footsteps of the first two and be brave enough to take the risks that elevate them above being generic or predictable.

The animation is stunning, the music beautiful, and the voice cast perfectly matched to their characters.  With a sharp script, and strong character development, this is one that will benefit from multiple viewings – at least one of which should be on the big screen for maximum effect.  In my book, it even deserves multiple viewings in theatres.


How To Train Your Dragon 2 Review By Nicole

**** (out of 4)

How to Train Your Dragon 2 is one of those rare sequels that is a perfect extension to the first film.  This film takes place five years after the first movie, when Hiccup (Jay Barachel) is 20 years old, and Berk now accepts and welcomes dragons as companion animals.

Trouble is, a dragon napper named Eret (Kit Harington) is stealing them for the insane tyrant Drago Bludvist (Djimon Hounson).  When Hiccup tries to find Drago and rescue the dragons, he discovers dragon rehabilitator Valka (Cate Blanchett), a lovable cat lady type who lives in her dragon sanctuary.  This mysterious encounter brings Hiccup to his roots, helping him rediscover who he really is.

How To Train Your Dragon 2 is not for young children.  A tragic incident occurs involving a main character.  But for older audiences, this is a lot of fun.  It’s heartwarming too, and has great messages about family, resisting war and respecting nature, not controlling it.  The animation is extremely good, giving the feel of a live-action film.  The voice acting is superb, the screenwriting is flawless, and John Powell’s Celtic score enhances everything it touches.  How To Train Your Dragon 2 is a work of art indeed.


How To Train Your Dragon 2 Review By Maureen

**** (out of 4)

Five years have passed in Berk, a Viking Island where dragons and humans now peacefully coexist.  It seems like just yesterday awkward teenager Hiccup (Jay Barachel) was working his dragon whispering magic on his Night Fury dragon Toothless, and all the other dangerous dragons in 2010’s How to Train Your Dragon.

Now in How to Train Your Dragon 2, adventurous young adults use their flying dragons for exciting Quidditch-like matches using the abundance of sheep on Berk, while Hiccup explores faraway lands with Toothless.  The transition from the first film to this second instalment feels seamless and that makes for a winning sequel.

Hiccup is content to explore the surrounding regions rather than take over as clan chief from his very Viking father, Stoick (Gerard Butler).  On one of their flying adventures, Hiccup and Toothless discover an area devastated by ice and fall into the hands of a dragon rustler named Eret (Kit Harington) who is working for a war hungry leader, Drago Bludvist (Djimon Hounsou).  But it’s when Hiccup meets a mysterious woman, Valka (Cate Blanchett), that he understands what needs to be done to protect all dragons.  Valka’s experience as a dragon rescuer and protector is an inspiration to Hiccup.

There are some rather intense battle scenes in How To Train Your Dragon 2 that will be too much for the youngest of viewers.  But writer/director Dean DeBlois has done a brilliant job in gearing this exciting sequel to teens and young adults who would have been fans of the original in 2010.

As in the first film, the animation and particularly the flying sequences are visually stunning.  The sense of depth is breathtaking at times.  Where the sequel soars is the more mature storyline with Hiccup’s character maturing and growing.  The introduction of new characters works really well, moving the story along nicely.

The stunning visuals are backed once again by a beautiful Celtic score by John Powell.  The voice work, as in the original movie, is excellent with Jay Baruchel once again sounding charming as Hiccup.  Of course the dragons are the other big stars of HTTYD 2, with Toothless still wonderful to watch.

How To Train Your Dragon 2 is exciting, touching and thoroughly entertaining, especially for older fans of the 2010 original.  If the extra surcharge doesn’t bother you, check it out in 3D to get the most out of the spectacular flying scenes.


How To Train Your Dragon 2 Review By Tony

**** (out of 4)

How to Train Your Dragon 2 is set five years after the original film, with everyone in the Viking village of Berk enjoying their dragon companions, particularly Hiccup (Jay Baruchel), exploring and mapping other lands on the back of his Night Fury dragon Toothless. He discovers one island where dragons live in harmony with the mysterious human Dragon Rider Valka (Cate Blanchett) but another dragon colony dominated by the malevolent Draco (Djimon Hounsou) threatens Berk itself.

Canadian born writer/director Dean DeBlois conceived HtTYD2 as the darker middle of a trilogy, inspired by The Empire Strikes Back, and has succeeded brilliantly in every way with this exciting and moving adventure. All the main characters are back, voiced by the same excellent cast, each perfectly suited to their avatars, especially Jay Baruchel. The animated images are even better than before, with many more whimsical dragon types in breathtaking aerial sequences, once again over a fine Celtic orchestral score from John Powell.

Consensus: Beautifully expanding upon the first film, How To Train Your Dragon 2 is a spectacularly animated and emotionally resonant sequel that takes risks and brings the ongoing series in some exciting new directions. **** (out of 4)

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