Friday, January 30, 2015

Movie Review: How to Train Your Dragon 2

Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: Voice cast, animation, some fun moments
Cons: Characters weak, plot too quick
The Bottom Line:
Next dragon chapter
Needed more development
Okay, but not great

More Danger with Dragons

When I finally got around to watching How to Train Your Dragon, I was surprised at just how much I enjoyed it.   I didn’t love it, but it was fun, so I was definitely interested in seeing the sequel.  I never got around to seeing it in the theater, but I finally rented How to Train Your Dragon 2 over the weekend.  Sadly, I didn’t find it nearly as much fun.

The story picks up 5 years after the first and life in Berk has greatly changed.  The dragons are now living in the Viking village and are an important every day part of life.  Meanwhile, Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel) and his dragon Toothless are spending every minute possible exploring the surrounding area to learn what else might be out there.

They are surprised one day to run across a ship that captures dragons.  Even worse is the news that Drago (Djimon Hounsou) is using these captured dragons to build an army to start and win a war.  When Hiccup goes out to trying to find Drago and talk him into peace, he makes an even more startling discovery.  Will his world ever be the same again?

It’s been a while since I watched the first movie, so I can’t pin point exactly what has changed between the two.  I can say that the preview I saw on another DVD the next night certainly made me glad I hadn’t seen it first.  It gave away all the twists of the film except one.

And that twist that they hadn’t given away?  It was definitely one thing I didn’t like about the film, especially because I didn’t feel the payoff was worth it.

Part of that was because the movie was so focused on the story that characters didn’t really come alive for me.  Again, maybe if I’d seen the first one more times I would have connected with them better.  Honestly, there are only a few that get any significant screen time as it is (not that it helps us connect with them).  The rest of the returning cast have a very small part of the play.

Those supporting characters can be wonderful comic relief, but in this case they were wasted.  They were fine, and frankly I think I would have liked to see more of them.

The plot, which as I already said was the focus of the movie, was a bit rushed as well.  It’s almost like they tried to tell too much story for the run time of the film.

Not that the film is bad.  I was entertained while I watched it.  I just wasn’t captivated and pulled in, and I certainly don’t see a reason to buy it or watch it again.

None of this reflects on the voice cast.  As is usual for a DreamWorks animated film, there are many familiar names, and they all do great jobs bring their characters to life.

And the animation is truly wonderful.  There are some beautiful shots over the course of the film that truly make you appreciate how far computer animation has come.

So How to Train Your Dragon 2 is worth seeing if you were a fan of the first movie.  If you didn’t like the first, you can definitely skip this one.  It’s an okay movie, but nothing that will thrill anyone but the biggest fans of the original.

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