Starring: Jay Baruchel, Cate Blanchett, Gerard Butler
Director: Dean DeBlois
Running Time: 102 mins
How To Train Your Dragon 2 is an American film and the sequel to How To Train Your Dragon. After five years where dragons and Vikings are living together, Hiccup and Toothless discover a mysterious world where dragons live in harmony, however they then find themselves at the centre of an epic battle to protect the dragons and the peace.
Now, I wasn’t blown away by the first film as much as everyone else, but I was at least entertained and interested in a different take on the family-friendly adventure genre. However, this film loses the uniquely charming feel of the first film, while also becoming less funny or exciting, due to its overly heavy drama and drawn-out plot.
I’ll start with what I found to be the main problem with this film, particularly in comparison to the first, and that was that it lost its originality. In the previous movie, I loved the characterisation and the bond between Hiccup and Toothless which took up the majority of the running time, however this time, there’s a whole lot less focus on the main characters’ relationships, which leaves time for a near 40 minute-long final battle sequence that drags on and is even more dull to watch than the climax of the first film.
Also, this sequel introduces various new characters into the story, and it changes the position of the overall story arc of the trilogy significantly, however it’s never really that interesting to see the way that they all fit in. I’m not going to reveal who these new characters are, but they’re largely quite plain and uninteresting, particularly the villain who is nothing more than a brute over a genuinely deep character.
As with all sequels, this is darker than the first film, but I think that that works against it in the grand scheme of things. Yes, it’s always interesting to see a supposedly family-friendly film have a stab at something a bit more dramatic and emotional, and the first film succeeded to a certain degree in that aspect, but this is completely over-the-top. I would think that it’s often a little bit too dark for its target audience, but also a little bit too light for adults, whilst the emphasis that this story places on the drama means there’s no space left for any decent comedy to save it if the drama isn’t exciting or interesting enough.
Of course, the voice performances are still pretty good (with the surprising exception of Cate Blanchett, who was pretty plain), and, whilst I’m not a huge fan of the visuals and the texture of the film, it’s still an impressive animation, but it just falls down in making an interesting, genuinely emotional and entertaining story, so that’s why it gets a 6.5 from me.