How to Train Your Dragon 2

How to Train Your Dragon 2
Starring Jay Baruchel, America Ferrera and Gerard Butler
Directed by Dean DeBlois (How to Train Your Dragon)
Rated PG for adventure action and some mild rude humor

    When How to Train Your Dragon hit the screen in 2010 I was absolutely blown away.  It was original, gutsy, different and stunningly beautiful.  And it left some big shoes to fill for a sequel. 

    In this newest edition, five years have passed and Hiccup and his viking mates are now young men and women, all of whom have mastered dragon riding.  Upon exploring the greater world around him, Hiccup discovers a huge ice cave filled with thousands of exotic new dragons led by his mother who everyone presumed dead (sorry if that’s a spoiler but it was in the trailers).  At the same time though, he discovers an evil mad man who has trained a dragon army in the hopes of taking over the world. 

    This film does a lot of things right.  I love that enough time has passed to allow a different version of its main characters.  Hiccup especially has turned into a brave young man who is still trying to figure things out while displaying a quiet confidence in his impressive abilities.  Its a very nice transition to observe.  His cohort also are now young men and women who have two things on the brain, dragons and the opposite sex.  There are some rather hilarious moments as the teens try to woo their targets.  Like the first film, the background characters outside of the main cast are more scenery than anything, but not terribly distracting. 

    The writing, as expected, is terrific and the narrative is strong.  The story being told here is big and bold and huge in scope with a lot of surprises that I won’t spoil.  I did think the mother seemed rather useless come the big battle, which seemed out of place given her talents as a dragon master.  Its almost as if they forgot about her in the third act.  That being said, I did like the directions they took in the story. 

    Probably my favorite quality of the film is how beautiful it is .  Once again, Dreamworks Animation put together a talented crew and I’m sure using legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins again as a visual consultant greatly enhanced the look.  While I’m not crazy about the 3D of the film, the actual cinematography and lighting were breathtaking.  There are moments in the battle sequences that actually look like real giant dragons fighting.  And the flight sequences are beyond anything we’ve ever seen previously.  Add that to a new score by the Oscar-nominated composer John Powell and songs by Icelandic musician Jonsi and you get quite a stunning collection of memorable sequences. 

    So while I would still pick the first Dragon as my favorite, I will concede that this film could grow on me over time.  When I first saw The Empire Strikes Back I preferred the first film for years.  Now I see things differently.  Number 2 here could be the same as I will most definitely enjoy it again and again as I let it simmer in my brain.  A