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