#REVIEW: “HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2”
Review by David Baldwin for Mr. Will Wong
I saw the original How to Train Your Dragon on a whim in spring 2010, going weeks after it opened strictly on word of mouth. The Trailers did not do much for me, so I had very little expectations going in. But instead of being yet another disappointing entry in the Dreamworks Animation canon, the Film actually turned out to be pretty spectacular. The story of a boy and his pet was everything you could want in a Film and the rare exception where 3D is actually a necessity. The flight scenes instil a sense of wonder and delight that is not easily replicated.
Four years later, we now have the inevitable Ssequel. And while I was initially apprehensive, I am very pleased to say that this Film is another rare exception: the Follow-up that is just as good, if not better than the original.
Five years after Dragons and Vikings have begun to live together in peace, Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) is being primed to take over as the leader of Berk. Except Hiccup is much more interested in exploring and mapping out new territories with his dragon companion Toothless. With the impending arrival of a dangerous man looking to build a dragon army and the discovery of an ice cave filled with hundreds of dragons and the mysterious Dragon Rider, Hiccup and Toothless are set to be tested like never before.
While I imagined Dragon 2 would be bigger than the first Film, I was genuinely surprised by how much darker and more mature the Film is. That is not to say it does not have fun and get silly – but it gets pretty heavy in some instances, crossing lines and doing things other Kids’ Films merely poke mention at. I was surprised at how mature and carefully it handled each plot element, making the Film that much more moving, emotional and involved. The Filmmakers set the stakes high from the very beginning, and then do everything to ensure they stay there for the remainder of the running time. The film also does a great job of maintaining the sense of wonder the first film did so well with. While it is not nearly as breathtaking to go flying with Hiccup and Toothless, I would be hard-pressed to not say how exciting and wild some of these sequences quickly become.
Outside of a weakly motivated Villain, I think the only thing that I can actually criticize about this incredible Film is that the supporting cast does not get explored nearly as well as they do in the original Film. This is very much the Hiccup, Toothless and Family show, and the rest of the Cast are just along for the ride. Baruchel is fantastic with his voice work, bringing the character to a whole new level. The Film is a journey for Hiccup, and Baruchel’s work mirrors that adventure. He puts so much effort that you actually will begin to think you are watching him, and not just listening to his voice. It is another impeccable performance by the young Canadian, one that ensures he is the centre of attention at all times.
Returning Characters voiced by Gerard Butler, America Ferrera, Craig Ferguson, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, T.J. Miller and Kristen Wiig are all very well done, and are complemented by the additions of Cate Blanchett, Djimon Hounsou and Jon Snow himself, Kit Harington. I kind of wish the Filmmakers did a bit more with the majority of these characters, but it is a small complaint I can easily forgive.
How to Train Your Dragon 2 is an exceptional Sequel, and one of the best Mmovies so far this summer. It is a captivating and thrilling experience that takes pride in its amazing animation and cultivated storyline. It looks great, it is a lot of fun, and it is genuinely moving. What more could you ask for?
20th Century Fox Canada release HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2 on Friday, June 13, 2013.