Movie Reviews & Interviews from Washington

‘How to Train Your Dragon 2’ Review: Starring Jay Baruchel, America Ferrera & Cate Blanchett

Sorry Daenerys Targaryen, but Toothless may be the most adorable dragon ever. He won over our hearts in 2010 when DreamWorks Animation’s How to Train Your Dragon was released and now four years later he’s back with his dragon training bestie Hiccup (Jay Baruchel). When it comes to animation, it’s especially hard to match the magic of the first film, but How to Train Your Dragon 2 does just that and is a wonderful continuation of the story. It’s heartfelt, surprising, daring; the 3D is gorgeous and just like the first film, its fun for all ages.

After watching Hiccup and his loyal Night Fury dragon Toothless form an unbreakable bond in the first film, it’s exciting to see where director and writer Dean DeBlois was going to take this story in the sequel.

Hiccup, along with his Viking friends Astrid (American Ferrera), Snotlout (Jonah Hill), Fishlegs (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) and Rufnut (Kristen Wiig), have all matured, if only a little bit. A lot has changed in the kingdom of Berk, which is still ruled by Hiccup’s father Stoick (Gerard Butler), who once hunted dragons along with the rest of the Vikings. But now thanks to Hiccup, the kingdom is full of dragons and everyone has learned to love them as pets. The Vikings even developed a system to put out fire when the dragons have a fiery accident.

How To Train Your Dragon 2

While soaring through the clouds on their dragons, Hiccup and girlfriend Astrid discover an island full of dragon hunters, led by muscly Eret (Kit Harington). It’s Eret’s job to trap the dragons and bring them back to his dreadlock boss Drago (Djimon Hounsou). Hiccup tells his father what he saw, sparking a battle between the two dragon forces.

I don’t usually recommend 3D, but in Dragon 2, the 3D is well used and adds a greater depth to our setting. It’s especially gorgeous in the introductory scene where Hiccup is riding Toothless as he is swooping in and out through the clouds and later as he meets the mysterious dragon rider in the sky. Cinematographer Roger Deakins (2013’s Prisoners) was a visual consultant for Dragon 2, and his unique use of showcasing the surroundings is apparent when you are watching the movie.

Composer John Powell’s (Rio, Kung Fu Panda, Happy Feet) score is triumphant and beautiful. Powell uses much of the same score from the first film, but adds a darker element this time around. Powell’s score is used as a major driving force in the story and it transcends the composition for animated films.

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Another thing that makes this sequel fantastic is Cate Blanchett! Blanchett is obviously one of the best actresses working today, so its no surprise that she is equally as talented in voice work. Blanchett voices Valka, a mysterious woman from Hiccup’s past and expert dragon whisperer. The scenes between Valka and Hiccup are the best in the film and Blanchett is fantastic at capturing Valka’s spirit and passion.

Although it may not have the original charms as it predecessor, How to Train Your Dragon 2 dares to be different from so many other animated films before it, is beautifully animated and Hiccup and Toothless remain the best human-dragon pairing in town.

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