How to Train Your Dragon 2 Review: This High-Flying Sequel Gets Just Enough Right

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This day in age, it’s rare for a sequel to come out four years after the original. But in the case of How to Train Your Dragon 2, the extra time does well to set the tone right from the start.

A somewhat small detail in this film’s unparalleled animation is that our hero, Hiccup (Jay Baruchel), has a little bit of a stubble on his chin. Upon further inspection, just about all the male youngsters from the first film are sporting some facial hair. It’s an early indicator of the darker, more mature sequel we’re about to watch.

How to Train Your Dragon 2 starts in a really upbeat place. The new harmony between human and dragon has made Berk a much more civil society. Hiccup’s eyes, however, are on the horizon. He spends his days with his dragon Toothless exploring the world outside of Berk. But his father Stoick (Gerard Butler) intends to make his son chief of the land.

That’s when Hiccup finds his long-lost mother Valka (Cate Blanchett), who has been keeping dragons safe from the evil Drago Bludvist (Djimon Hounsou), pronounced “blood fist” in the film.

While much of this sweeping story is action-oriented, it’s still a kid-friendly movie, so there’s humor. I do wish that more jokes had been for the whole audience, not just those 12 and younger. There are some cringe-worthy attempts at humor that didn’t even get a rise out of the children at my showing. Hopefully the already planned third entry in the franchise can mature the humor as well as it did its tone and overall story.

Between all the stunning visuals and action-packed dragon battles, there is a moment that few movies intended for children dare to go. It’s a brave move that, when all is said and done, should have led to a braver ending. But the film’s resolution mostly plays it safe, leaving room for the third film while not changing the universe too much.

Still though, How to Train Your Dragon 2 gets enough right to be a worthy sequel to its predecessor. The animation here is even more breathtaking than the last, and the story is engaging enough that both kids and adults will be entertained. Grade: B

By Matt Dougherty

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