Billy's Film Reviews.

A series of film reviews and opinion pieces from a film student and all round movie lover! Happy reading!

How To Train Your Dragon 2 – 2014

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Adding to the endless sequel tally of 2014 comes the follow up to one of Dreamworks’ most successful projects post-Shrek. “How To Train Your Dragon 2” is the sequel to 2010’s delightfully and surprisingly excellent adventure animation that took visuals, story and animation to a whole new world.

Set 5 years after the original adventures of Hiccup and Toothless, the pair are back once again, with a bond that is stronger than ever.
Hiccup (voiced again by Jay Baruchel) is older, taller and maturer; the 20 year-old heir apparent to the throne of Berk has developed in so many ways but is still struggling to find ‘himself’.
In amongst the constant praise coming from father Stoick (Gerard Butler), girlfriend Astrid (America Ferrera) and the townsfolk of Berk in general, Hiccup becomes overwhelmed and increasingly pressured by the expectations thrusted upon him.
Confident and innovative, Hiccup is not the out and out coward, far from it, yet his identity issues are appearing to hit harder than most.

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On a journey of discovery, (not of himself but undiscovered lands), Hiccup and Astrid come across a ruined base occupied by dragon hunters. Their intentions are to hunt down as many dragons as possible, all the while building a dragon army. Their leader, Drago is discussed, but not seen, adding mystery and ominousness to the supreme antagonist.
Hiccup and Astrid manage to escape and head back to Berk, informing the townsfolk of Drago and the hunters. From there, conflict, tension, excitement and enthralment transpire.

Sequels are something that the generations of today will have to get used to in cinema.
With money being the sole focal point based around production of films, formulaic and structural approaches to money-making ‘franchises’ is the logical way to go.

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It is disappointing to see that there is a forthcoming “Toy Story” film being created for example.
There are certain films or series that should simply be left alone, but, having said that, thank goodness they didn’t leave “How To Train Your Dragon” alone! This sequel is astonishingly superb.
Witnessing a follow up that is better than the original is something of a rarity nowadays, considering that approximately 90 percent of them crumble and burn in devastatingly embarrassing fashion.
Not only is “How To Train Your Dragon 2” better than the first, it is one of the best pictures to come out of Dreamworks in a long, long time.

Just when we thought the original’s technological achievements could not be any more impressive, the effects and incredible attention to detail are simply mind-blowing.
The most minuscule of details are featured in exceptional fashion and the characters themselves are so distinctly human-like, there are points throughout the film that can make you forget that this is an animation.
The colours are more vibrant, the settings are stunningly picturesque and realism exhibited in the fantastical worlds is incredible.

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Drago, the antagonist, is very strong. His presence is made known for the majority of the story and his hostility, heinousness and odious nature all shape him into a near-perfect villain.
What would have made Drago an even better character would be if he was introduced earlier into the piece. The audience only get a taste of Drago after the 40-minute mark of the film.
This is acceptable, and as the film plays out it becomes even more suitable, yet to make the character and the story itself more substantial, a scene at the beginning of the film that establishes some sort of threat and looming danger would have added a new level of interest and engagement.

The rave reviews surrounding “How To Train Your Dragon 2” have not been wrong or unsatisfactory.
“How To Train Your Dragon 2” was not only a huge success, it surpassed the original by quite some lengths and demonstrated that sequels are still capable of greatness.
Darker, more exciting, surprising and at times quite frightening (even for a 20 year-old…)“How To Train Your Dragon 2” is the best 3D animated second instalment since “Toy Story 2”, hands down!

4.5/5

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2 comments on “How To Train Your Dragon 2 – 2014

  1. Noémie
    July 4, 2014

    I really liked this one: pretty good story, very well made (attention to details, physical evolution of characters…) but I did not enjoy it as much as the first one and gave a 3.5/5.
    I don’t want to spoil readers who haven’t seen it yet but everything about that “new character who loves dragons” is terrible…it really didn’t work for me.
    Also, maybe I’m just weird but when Hiccup lost his foot in the first movie, I was very “pleasantly” surprised. Not because he lost a foot but because it was so unexpected from this kind of movie, and that’s something that added a “something more” to the film which was already really good.
    I thought that the 2nd one was very “happy, cute and easy” (Big character dying is not happy but not uncommon either) with no (good) surprise.

    As for Toy Story: LOOOOVED and watched the 1st one so many times being a child. Didn’t like the 2nd one at all. Loved the third one (and still think it is the best 3D animated sequel). Toy story 4 was just a rumour and got bigger on Twitter last year, Pixar said they were not working on a new one.

  2. wmsteele
    July 5, 2014

    hmmmm ok, 3.5 seems too harsh for me haha! I absolutely loved this film. Perhaps it was the way I experienced it that added so much. I was in a packed cinema full of children, all on their best behaviour that all applauded the film at the end haha! I thought that was so sweet!
    You mention that Hiccup’s leg incident was a surprisingly good moment of the first, I totally agree, but the moment with Toothless being controlled and doing that thing that he does was an equal, if not, more effective moment in terms of drama and sadness for me. It added to the film’s darker side which personally, I loved!
    It wasn’t cute or happy for me at all really. Sure, there are cliche moments scattered throughout, but then again, it is a kids film after all.

    And with Toy Story, I’m glad to hear that the 4th is not coming haha! And I love the 3rd one the best, but when I say that this is the best animated sequel, I mean that in terms of second instalments. So Toy Story 3 wouldn’t count for me. If it did, it would still be better than this haha!

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