If I were to list my favorite films, How to Train Your Dragon would be near the top of the list. I still watch it regularly. So when the inevitable sequel arrived, I was hesitant. How could it live up to that standard?
In addition… I was able to catch a special screening of this film about six months ago (give or take) and was able to provide Dreamworks with feedback, so I was super curious if any of my suggestions came into play. Luckily, some did.
The gist… It’s been five years since Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) saved the dragon Toothless and taught the town of Berk to love dragons. He’s surrounded by his friends (America Ferrera, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, TJ Miller, and Kristen Wiig), as well as the commanding leaders of Berk (Gerard Butler and Craig Ferguson). Kit Harington (Game of Thrones, Pompeii) joins the cast as a dragon hunter named Eret and Djimon Hounsou joins as the big baddie Drago Bludvist. Cate Blanchett has also joined the cast.
This movie definitely ramps up most aspects of the original film, including action. We’ve got people who ride dragons, people who hunt dragons, and multiple people that command armies of dragons. The scope is much larger and these action sequences don’t disappoint.
Visually, the movie is also stunning as well (though it’s best on a high quality screen, so this is worth paying a little extra). I’m not usually a fan of 3D but I can imagine this experience might be really cool. In terms of design, there were some really cool moments as well. There are plenty of new dragons and they all look very interesting. I gave some feedback about the design of the biggest and baddest dragon and they actually made some significant changes, which is cool. Once you see the movie, I’ll tell you how.
What doesn’t work?
While the ramped up action definitely worked, they attempted to ramp up the emotional content and it kind of fell flat for me (which is criticism I also gave but wasn’t addressed). There are some significant moments and I felt nothing (especially compared to the incredible moments in the original film). I was also upset that the trailers revealed Cate Blanchett’s character, when it would have been an awesome reveal if you were unaware.
This is a good film. I loved watching it. It was action-packed, funny, and the signature soundtrack made me feel happy just from nostalgia of the original film. This movie though can’t compare with the original, on the whole. The ramped up emotional aspects fell short for me and the movie ended without that big moment we got in the first film. Maybe it’s not fair to think of it in comparison, but everyone is going to do it. Unavoidable. This is a great movie and you’ll like it, but it can’t live up to what you loved about the original. Go in with that mindset and you’ll have a great time.