The cast returns in this sequel to the 2010 “How to Train Your Dragon” movie, providing viewers with a hard-edged storyline. Very quickly in the film it’s apparent that “Dragon 2” is at least on par, if not better, than the original journey. Writer and director Dean DeBlois establishes all the familiar characters for moviegoers to pick-up right where they left off in the previous film. The most significant ploy by DeBlois, though, is his masterful narrative that makes this animated movie enjoyable for adults and children alike.
“How to Train Your Dragon 2” puts DreamWorks in the pole-position of animated films, moving itself ahead of the industry-leader Pixar. In fact, the visuals in this film almost distract viewers, at least initially with the vast landscape shots. During the first few scenes, the lucid—almost magical—pictures on the big screen mesmerized me. Raising the animation bar to such a high quality product really opens this movie to wider audiences, as adults will forget they’re watching a kids’ film. Pixar’s “Toy Story” collection was brilliant at this realism too, leading the way for other studios to market these movies not only to parents, but also to adults without any children.
Besides its remarkable visual acuity, “How to Train Your Dragon 2” satisfies audiences with its successful storyline. A darker plot involves another milestone for the young Viking boy, Hiccup (voice of Jay Baruchel), to overcome on his rise to leadership. Following in the footsteps of his father, Stoick (Gerard Butler), Hiccup must protect and defend the dragons against outsiders. With plenty of action and a soft tug at our heartstrings, “How to Train Your Dragon 2” invokes emotion and interest throughout its 1 hour and 45 minute running time. DeBlois deserves credit for keeping the film’s length commensurate with its target audience attention span, never trying to do too much on the big screen.
This movie deserves an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature Film and accolades for producing a storyline that’s enjoyable for both adults and kids. Never getting too far ahead of its viewers, “How to Train Your Dragon 2” keeps the action and suspense flowing seamlessly. The film instills the positive messages of personal fortitude and one’s goal to settle differences peacefully. While the story is kept simple for younger audiences, it offers enough boldness to pique the interest of older viewers—and for an animation film to capture the attention of moviegoers of all ages, that’s saying a lot.