Review - How to Train Your Dragon 2 (3D)

How to Train Your Dragon 2 (2014), PG, 102 minutes - I hadn't realized it until a couple of days ago, but this review is an anniversary post of sorts.  Not only was the original How to Train Your Dragon the first review posted here on the blog, but as it turns out, that was also five years ago!

How to Train Your Dragon 2 takes place five years after the events of the first film, a time in which the people of Berk have learned to co-habitate with dragons and work together to build a thriving society.  Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) has become well respected and his father Stoic (Gerard Butler) the village chief has named him his successor.  Along with his dragon Toothless, Hiccup still likes to roam, explore, and map out previously uncharted territories surrounding Berk.  On one of their scouting trips, they come across what could be considered a dragon oasis.  Along with this exciting discovery, Hiccup uncovers the whereabouts of two people from Berk's past.  One his thought-to-be-dead mother Valka (Cate Blanchett), who shares Hiccup's love and respect of dragons and the other, Drago (Djimon Hounsou), a great danger to the people who has been secretly amassing an army of dragons in an attempt to take over.

Craig Ferguson (Gobber), America Ferrera (Astrid), Jonah Hill (Snotlout), Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Fishlegs), T.J. Miller (Tuffnut), and Kristen Wiig (Ruffnut) all return as Hiccup's supporting cast, and the aforementioned Hounsou and Kit Harington (Eret) provide the voices for the new threats to Berk.

How to Train Your Dragon 2 is the epitome of what a sequel should be.  It builds upon the characters and the world that were introduced in the first film.  It takes that endearing cast and ratchets up the action, suspense, and emotion.  The voice acting is very well done, and the animation is absolutely gorgeous.  The 3D is especially well rendered, which was nice to see as I felt the first one made the best use of the format since Avatar.  I absolutely loved that they aged all of the characters, fitting in with the timeline of the story.  This doesn't often happen in animation and it's that sort of attention to detail that really helps the progression of the story and allows us to get so immersed in this fictional universe.

Earlier this year How to Train Your Dragon 2 made the Honorable Mention section of my Most Anticipated Films of 2014 list, and in hindsight it probably should have been much higher on the countdown.  It is easily one of the best films I've seen this year, and may give Captain America: The Winter Soldier a run for its money as the film that I have most enjoyed to this point in 2014.  How to Train Your Dragon 2 gets my highest recommendation.  If it is in your budget (3D pricing is ridiculous) the extra expense for a 3D showing is absolutely worth it (you won't hear me say that very often).  This was a well thought out, well executed installment in the franchise and leaves you wanting more.  I can only hope that How to Train Your Dragon 3 (announced for release in 2016) will continue to build upon the wonderfully entertaining world surrounding Berk.  It will certainly have big shoes to fill!












*****SPOILERS*****

- I absolutely love that the 2011 Christmas Special (Dragons: Gift of the Night Fury), and the television series DreamWorks Dragons (2012-2014) are all in-continuity with the films.


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