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How to Train Your Dragon 2

How to Train Your Dragon 2

Not many films escape the sequel curse, but How to Train Your Dragon 2 is one of
those happy exceptions to the rule. After a sensory-jarring opening sequence,
meant (I suppose) to provide instantaneous action for young viewers weaned on
video games, the movie gets down to business—and its business is spinning a
good story.

Now that young Hiccup is a hero, and his pet dragon
Toothless has brought peace and happiness to their ramshackle Viking kingdom,
new challenges are introduced: a terrifying villain named Drago (menacingly
voiced by Djimon Hounsou) who seeks to overpower all dragons, and an ethereal
woman named Valka (well played by the great Cate Blanchett), who has created a
haven for the misunderstood creatures. Valka turns out to be Hiccup’s mother,
who abandoned him when he was a baby—for reasons we come to learn. Hiccup
innocently believes that he can convince Drago to change his attitude, but he
underestimates his opponent.

Writer-director Dean DeBlois, who made the first Dragon feature with his longtime partner
Chris Sanders, builds a strong foundation for his characters, to guarantee
rooting interest and make sure the stakes are serious enough to matter. This is
a more serious film than its predecessor as loyalty, sacrifice, the meaning of
family, and the nature of evil all come into play. Hiccup, voiced again by Jay
Baruchel, is an instantly likable young man (no longer a boy), but instead of
having to prove himself to his father, the tribal chief (Gerard Butler), as he
did in the first movie, he is put to a series of tests, some of them wrenching
and emotional. There is ample humor and some truly impressive action,
masterfully staged (in 3-D) by DeBlois and his visual consultant, the gifted
cinematographer Roger Deakins.

But it’s the serious underpinnings that make How to Train Your Dragon 2 so rich and
satisfying. This is not a piece of animated fluff: it’s a movie of surprising
substance that offers real rewards.


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