How to Train Your Dragon 2 Review

By Louie Wieseman

I’ve been excited for How to Train Your Dragon 2 since the first movie was released back in 2010. After watching the first movie multiple times, downloading the soundtrack, buying the DVD the day it was released, getting all of my friends to watch it, and even buying a toy Toothless – it was supposed to be a Christmas gift for a friend, but don’t worry she got a better gift – let’s just say, I’ve been riding on that hype train for a while now.

     How to Train Your Dragon 2 had a lot to live up to. After the first movie broke out from nowhere, it was one of the most anticipated movies of the year. The first one wasn’t supposed to take off like it did. Released in early spring of 2010, Dreamworks didn’t have How to Train Your Dragon on the front of their mind. Later in the year, they released Shrek Forever After and Megamind, hoping to be their big hits. Shrek Forever After took in $750 million, but How to Train Dragon took in the best overall with reviews earning a 98% on RottenTomatoes. After the initial trailers and hype from my friends, including a few ‘OH NO HE’S HOT’ jokes about Hiccup, it was a bit worrying if it would be as good as the first.

Did How to Train Your Dragon 2 live up to the expectations and hype? Absolutely. From the initial moments, I knew it was going to be another outstanding movie and that everything was going to be okay.

The first scene follows Astrid (America Ferrera), Snotlout (Jonah Hill), Fishlegs, (Christoher Mintz-Plasse), and the twins Ruffnut and Tuffnut (Kristen Wiig and T.J. Miller) five years after the events of the first movie. They are all riding around Berk on their respective dragons. As they race around Berk, they’re grabbing sheep and throwing them into baskets as part of a new game. Stoick and Gobbler (Gerard Butler and Craig Ferguson) are watching over and notice Hiccup isn’t there.

The initial scene was high flying, full of energy, and throughout most of the film, featured callbacks and references to the first film. The first scene did feature many of the original themes from the musical score, composed by John Powell, with some songs by Jonsi, who was nominated for an Academy Award for his score. After this, we finally got a glimpse of Hiccup (Jay Barachel) and Toothless flying off somewhere else away from Berk testing out Hiccup’s new flight suit. This first scene immediately sets the tone of How to Train Your Dragon 2.

     Within 15 minutes the first antagonist of the film is shown during a fight scene when Hiccup and Astrid, who has since caught up with Hiccup, find Eret (Kit Harington), a dragon trapper whose town has been destroyed by a mysterious dragon. After being rescued by the others and flying back to Berk, Hiccup tells his dad about Eret and Drago Bludvist (Dijmon Hounsou). Berk then goes on lockdown in order to keep the village safe. Hiccup – being Hiccup -takes off with Toothless to investigate. He’s immediately captured and brought into a dragon cave with a masked person slinking around.

Within 30 minutes, so many plot lines and characters have been introduced that my friend leans over to me and tells me exactly what I was thinking: “Wow, this is going crazy fast so far! What’s going to happen next?!” This brings up one of my few complaints; How To Train Your Dragon 2 is just a little too fast paced for the first half of the film. The second half was more evenly paced and definitely easier to get into. After how fast the beginning was, I thought they were going to leave the film on a cliffhanger before the third movie is released in 2016. Thankfully, it finished out in great fashion.

One thing I really enjoyed about the film were the references to the original film. The original score is present throughout a lot of the movie. There are also callbacks to the original through similar scenes, such as Toothless drawing with another dragon in the sand, the ‘This is Berk’ speech at the beginning and end of the film, quick flying scenes around larger dragons during the big final fight, and others. They’re fun to see if you were a big fan of the original and don’t get that nostalgic feeling that they’re repeating things from the first movie.

     The film is very well balanced with the emotion, humor, and action. DeBlois, the director and writer of the films, hits the nail on the head again. He is able to successfully mature Hiccup, show his growth throughout the film, and sets up wonder for the next film. Being able to introduce more characters without being completely overbearing, thus creating more plot, can be a hard thing to do. While the plot is a bit fast paced at first, it is still enjoyable to look back on.

Another thing I noticed about this film is its’ two takes on the two sayings: “the pen is mightier than the sword” and “actions speak louder than words.” During the final fights, Hiccup stops all of his fighting and flying to try to reason with Drago. While he does have some good reasons, it’s an antagonist, so of course he isn’t going to listen. This is the “pen is mightier than the sword,” meaning; in this case the lesson is that words do have power. After that fails, Hiccup comes in and, well… I’m not going to spoil anything. But actions can speak louder than words.

Without going into too much of How to Train Your Dragon 2 to spoil it in this review, I loved it. I absolutely loved this film. There’s so many small things to look at throughout the film that catch your eye, that watching again with the friends is must. I plan on seeing it again with more of my friends to share in the excitement of this franchise.

Now, is it better than the first film? That’s a hard one to think about. The first film came out of nowhere, had so much excitement and adventure with a mature enough story to capture everyones’ hearts. This second film had a lot of hype, and I know the group I saw it with loved it. Comparing it to the first one almost seems unfair after how much praise the original received. It’s too hard to do. With that said, How to Train Your Dragon 2 is just as enjoyable as the first one with even more adventure added to it.

Verdict

Incredible

Adventurous, funny, emotional, and mature, How To Train Your Dragon 2 lives up to the hype as this dragon sequel soars.
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Positives

  • Picks up right where it left off
  • Well balanced and mature
  • As adventurous as the first film

Negatives

  • A little fast paced plot through the first half