by Adam Riske
Theoretically, How to Train Your Dragon 2 is a good movie, but with like the original I didn’t feel much involved in the story and had to fight from spacing out on a number of occasions. I would say that if you are a fan of the original, you will enjoy the sequel. There is much that the movie does right, namely the mesmerizing, almost photo-realistic detail of the computer animation.
The sequel is more action-oriented than the original, telling the story of Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel) and his dragon, Toothless, pitted against the evil Drago (voiced menacingly by Djimon Hounsou, who should do more voiceover work) in a battle to protect the peace between man and dragon, as well as the prosperity of Hiccup’s native island, Berk. I give credit to director Dean DeBlois (co-director of How to Train Your Dragon and the wonderful Lilo & Stitch) for staging the action and flying sequences as well as he does. It’s rare in a computer animated movie for me to find action sequences thrilling (they often resemble busy nonsense) and DeBlois is in total command of the pacing and choreography of these scenes. At times, How to Train Your Dragon 2 is quite thrilling. Its climax even resembles a vintage giant monster movie throwdown.
But as I said earlier, I would be lying if I didn’t say the movie bored me at times. How to Train Your Dragon 2 has a cold opening that completely rips off the Quidditch sequences in the Harry Potter movies, except this time it involves riding dragons and dropping sheep into a net (also have you ever noticed how the exterior shots of Berk look identical to Hogwarts in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone)? After that, the movie works in fits and starts. You could honestly zone out for five minutes at a time and miss nothing during the majority of the second and third acts. I just didn’t care all that much about the proceedings.
Indifference is actually my major problem with How to Train Your Dragon 2. I’m not worked up about it one way or the other. It’s good but also a tad dull. I just don’t care all that much. It’s a professionally made movie by people who care, but I can’t for the life of me figure out why this story had to be told or what it is truly even about. Thematically, it is saying very little. What it is saying about family is confused and what it’s saying about responsibility is misguided because Hiccup accepts responsibility during the proceedings out of necessity and not out of individual choice or desire. Like George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life, he’s doing the right thing but I feel as if he’s going to hate it every step of the way. As a result, the epilogue of the movie, which is supposed to be rousing, seems almost to be a big lie.