Dragons and Vikings living together? Before Hiccup found Toothless that was laughable, but now that’s just normal life. Revisit the Vikings of Berk and their fantastic dragons in How to Train Your Dragon 2. Review after the jump.
It has been 5 years since Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) convinced the Vikings that dragons were not creatures to be feared and the village now lives in harmony with the majestic creatures. Now a young man, Hiccup soars through the skies on the back of Toothless, searching for new places and creating a map of the lands. Hiccup’s father and Chief, Stoick the Vast (Gerard Butler) would rather Hiccup stay in the village. Hiccup has a lot to learn if he is to become chief, something Stoick wants to happen sooner rather than later. On one exploration flight, Hiccup discovers a land that seems to be partially encased in ice. This land is inhabited and the people who live there are not quite the same as the Vikings of Berk. They too have dragons, but the dynamic there is a little different.
Soar, swoop and dive. Flying is an incredibly freeing experience and its something that this film has captured so well. The flight sequences with the dragons are amazing, particularly when you are viewing the action from the point of view of the viking riding the dragon. The 3D here is used to great effect and helps create a wonderfully immersive, utterly fun experience. The design and colours of the dragons are weird in wonderful, with imaginative and amusing names to match. Of course it’s hard to go past Toothless, a dragon who loves it’s master with all of his being. The scenes involving him and Hiccup are easily the film’s strong point. There is also some great humour from the slightly buffoonish (but warm-hearted) vikings, with Gobber the Belch (voiced by the very funny Craig Ferguson) providing some much-needed laughs.
How to Train Your Dragon 2 is definitely a darker, more emotional ride that it’s predecessor. I was quite surprised by how dark the film got and wouldn’t recommend it for younger children. It’s a film which has the importance of family at its core, but it explores this in slightly convoluted, drawn out ways. There were many extended scenes which involved family members talking to each other, cramming in as many moralistic statements as possible. It’s not really subtle with its message, which is fine if it’s delivered in an interesting way, but I found that the film dragged. The film also revisits the importance of peace, a theme which was prevalent in the first film. This is integrated more successfully into the film, however there were a few extending talking scenes which again, dragged on too long. Despite the darkness of the film, it still has moments of pure joy; however the unbridled imagination of the first film is slightly lacking here.
If you’re going to see this at the cinema then make sure you pay the extra for 3D. Soaring through the skies with the dragons is a terrific cinema experience. Just prepare yourself for the darkness too.
By Sam McCosh
Director: Dean DeBlois
Writer(s): Dean DeBlois (screenplay)
Starring: the voices of Jay Baruchel, Cate Blanchett, Gerard Butler, America Ferrera
Runtime: 102 minutes
Release date(s): USA: June 13 2014; Australia: June 19 2014; New Zealand: July 10 2014