How To Train Your Dragon 2 is as good as the original film, if not better. But more importantly, it’s a magnificent film in its own right. It is one of those rare successors that don’t replicate the first film but give us something new. They take risks to expand the world and enhance the mythology instead of cowardly and unimaginatively playing it safe. The sequel to How To Train Your Dragon contains sweeping high-flying action with a strong emotional core at the center. The film is so beautifully animated, it immerses you in its world and engulfs you in the proceedings.
Hiccup, Toothless, Astrid and Stoick are back and Berk is now a home ground for dragons. This animated Nordic fantasy opens with a Quidditch-with-Sheep-like game, which introduces us to the amount of aerial awesomeness that we will witness for the next hour and a half. And we do.
The vast canvas is established, the villains are set up and there is plot twist (which was already spoiled in the trailers). The voice performances by the actors was never this good in an animated film. From the talented Jay Baruchel and America Ferrera to the splendid Gerard Butler and Cate Blanchett. The relationships between Hiccup and the characters (including his dragon, Toothless) form the beating heart of the film. The laughs come consistently but intermittently and surprisingly from the background action. Don’t miss those dragons doing something weird at the corner of the screen. Or the sheep. One of the funniest sub-plots in the film involves the young Viking girl, Ruffnut (voiced by Kristen Wiig) fawning over a new addition to the cast – Eret (voiced by Kit Harrington). I laughed out loud every single time she ogled and swooned. Those tweens would relate.
There is a point in the film where the narrative pauses for a small period of time. These moments where the plot is forgotten for a brief interval, the pace is slowed down and we see characters talk to each other are almost missing from big blockbusters these days. Here there is a tender song, which is touching and funny at the same time. It was definitely one of my favorite moments from the film.
Although, while watching the film I wondered whether this film would be a little different from what the kids expect. This is not your average children’s fare. Yes, there are many cutesy things and visual delights but the story isn’t exactly childlike. There is a lot of fun to be had, the scale is grand but the story takes some grave turns and the tone of the film isn’t supremely light-hearted. The adults will find this more inviting. I’m not saying it is not for kids but maybe it could be a bit a hefty for them. To sum it up, it’s a bit more grown up than the first film. Why shouldn’t it be? Hiccup is not a wee lad anymore.
The best sequels like The Empire Strikes Back (1981), Aliens (1986) and more recently, The Dark Knight (2008) give you more than you asked for. They don’t offer the same plot and they build on the universe. They don’t stagnate, they move forward. I wouldn’t say they are better than the first film but what strikes me about them is that they stand on their own as great films. This is exactlt how a sequel should be.
The production design of the film is marvelous. The ice structures, the seas and the skies, each location is a sight to behold. The 3D doesn’t hamper the look of the film but makes the experience more wondrous. When each visual cue is used to make you submerge you into the cinema screen, it’s hard to not take the plunge and swim with the tide/ wind. It’s never really goodbye when the film has ended. You want to explore this world more. It is one of those rare times you wish for another film to be made to take the franchise forward. Another chance for you to discover another world in this dazzling universe.view less