It’s been a long time since Hiccup and Toothless caught audiences and critics by surprise- just as long since they entered and stole our hearts. It was probably a little unnatural how much I loved HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON, but fact of the matter is that there was nothing about the film that I didn’t love. So it only seems inevitable that the sequel can’t possibly live up to such a high bar right? Wrong. While HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2 does feel a little less surprising, it feels like much more well-rounded film experience with even more of an emotional core.
Picking up where the first film left off the citizens of Berk are living harmoniously with their newfound fire breathing companions. It seems as though nothing could disrupt the utopia that Hiccup and Toothless helped build in the Viking village. That is until Hiccup stumbles upon a group of dragon trappers claiming a man by the name of Drago is amassing an army of dragons and it’s only a matter of time till Berk is in his crosshairs.
Where to start? It’s no secret that I love animation- everything about it I tend to appreciate. Even movies with semi-crude or poorly rendered models get at least a few points from me. The animation in HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2 is neither crude nor poor rendered- everything about this film in terms of animation is stunning. People go on and on about the works of Pixar, but you’d be hard pressed to get me to compare HTTYD or HTTYD 2 negatively to almost anything Pixar puts out. The characters are unique, the environments are breathtaking and the action set pieces are vibrant and exciting. The precision at which these scenes play out is nothing short of stunning to me and I loved every second of it. It’s at this point I should mention that unlike the first film, I did not see this in 3D. I could tell that like the first film some of these scenes had to be breathtaking with that extra dimension. As is, the film plays just as well without it.
There isn’t much here that I did not enjoy. The only slight knock I’d dare say against it is that it didn’t surprise me with how good it was- I wish all movies let alone sequels had this problem. As a sequel it did surprise me that it- for me- borderline outdoes the first film. However, unlike the last film it didn’t have that “it came out of nowhere and blew me away.” If you haven’t caught on, this is not even a complaint so much as a sarcastic, “Ugh, why is this film so good,” groan.
As a moviegoer HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2 has spoiled me. It followed a film that was one of my favorite movies of that year and one of my favorite animated films of all time only to challenge it’s predecessor for the same title. I don’t try to paint myself as an easy to please movie lover, but quite frankly even if I wasn’t this movie is nothing but pure joy. Even as the film journey’s through some darker waters, it’s a ride that comes back around only to warm your heart that much more. HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2 bests its predecessor as an even more well rounded cinematic experience. More than that though it embraces what made it so special and takes it to the next logical step creating something that truly makes me feel like a kid again.