review: how to train your dragon 2 (2014)

We all know that sequels to these types of animated films usually never turn out well. We also know that nothing is ever as good as the original. Well folks, How To Train Your Dragon 2 really proves us wrong, because it came surprisingly close – if not levelling with, or even surpassing its predecessor.

Synopsis (IMDB): When Hiccup and Toothless discover an ice cave that is home to hundreds of new wild dragons and the mysterious Dragon Rider, the two friends find themselves at the center of a battle to protect the peace.

Here is my reasoning.

(SPOILER ALERT – do NOT read this if you haven’t seen the film, and don’t want to read some plot giveaways). If you haven’t seen it, but want to risk it, I have put in some SPOILER warnings, embedded in the post, so just look away whenever you see these flags, but don’t blame me if you read something by accident!

WHAT I LIKED.

The overall plot.
The continuations of stories I think, are the downfall of most of these animated sequels. Many of these films just stretch way too far, and plots become so unbelievable and absurd that the films just seem downright dumb. It’s like they just wanted a second film to make money, so they threw together the first idea they had, without actually thinking about it, just to put together another feature-length film. The plot in HTTYD2 however, worked really well, and flowed really naturally from the 1st movie. It was believable, not overly complicated, and it worked really well.

SPOILER BELOW.
The introduction of Hiccup’s mother – and Cate Blanchett as her voice.
This was an absolutely great idea, and was executed very well. Things like introducing “dead” characters from the past can be done very poorly, and disconnect between these types of characters is often very prevalent, but the familial chemistry between Hiccup and his mother, Valka was successfully established immediately, as well as the chemistry between Valka and Hiccup’s father, Stoick, shortly after. Big kudos goes to Cate Blanchett for this – she expressed the role of missing, but loving motherly very nicely, and I absolutely LOVED that deep deep, motherly voice. Absolutely amazing. Blanchett made it impossible to not fall in love with her character.

The emotion I felt after the battle/war scene.
I think the one overarching goal of all animated films should be is to make people cry. Honestly. It’s much harder to reach out to audiences with these animated characters, and the best (or at least my favourite) animated films are always those that actually make the audience feel something. Up is a great example of this. Within the first 10 minutes of that film, I’m pretty sure 90% of people who watched it shed at least a tear, or were at least thinking about it, or fighting hard against it. (SPOILER**) Anyway, this entire battle scene, and the conclusion of it, leaving Hiccup fatherless, and temporarily dragon-less really got me emotional, and I found myself fighting back tears.

The ice-breathing alphas.
With the masses of fire seen in this film, it was really nice to see the “alpha” dragons working with something so much cooler (see what I did there?). The ice breathing really added to the aesthetics of the screen, and really helped differentiate the alphas from the regular dragons – although their sizes may have slightly worked as well. But yeah, I’ve always been a fan of ice/water/air over fire as a weapon, and loved the integration of it in this film.

WHAT I WAS ON THE FENCE ABOUT.

**HUGE HUGE HUGE SPOILER ALERT**
Toothless killing Stoick.
I do like the fact that Stoick died. That sounds terrible, and obviously I was very sad when he did die, and hated it, but you know what I mean. For the purpose of the plot, and the overall emotional journey, I understand why the writers killed him off. I do not however, like how it was Toothless that did the deed. It sort of sent out an anti-love for dragons vibe to me, and kind of fights against the final argument of what really wins at leading a community, and getting people on your side. I think this could have worked better if Toothless did end up shooting out his lazer thing, but ended up maybe injuring Stoick, and then having some other dragon finish off the job? I think the fact that Toothless was the one and only dragon who killed Hiccup’s father would have affected Hiccup way more, and I don’t think trust between the two would have been gained back that quickly.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE.

The black sheep.
WHY WAS THIS A THING. It was just so unnecessary, didn’t add anything to the plot or characters, and wasn’t even funny. Every time I saw a black sheep being launched into the air like a rock, and being mistreated, I just ended up feeling so bad for them. They were so cute, and absolutely didn’t like seeing them treated as props.

FINAL COMMENTS.

So yeah, the only thing that I didn’t really like about this was the use of the black sheeps… so overall, this sequel was great. And I am SO happy about that. To be completely honest, the reason I haven’t seen this film until now is because I was terrified of being disappointed, and was scared that the bad sequel would taint the first film for me.

So that being said, if you loved How To Train Your Dragon, go ahead and watch this one. You won’t be disappointed.

just my rating: ★★★★

Other reviews on How To Train Your Dragon 2 (2014)
Animation and Feminism – How To Train Your Dragon 2 Review
Fangirls Are We – How To Train Your Dragon 2
ClarissaHayden – How to Train Your Dragon 2

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