Well, the movie’s been out for a couple of weeks now, so I feel it’s only right to finally get around to posting this: a review of How To Train Your Dragon 2.
The plot of the movie, without really giving too much of the story away, focuses on Hiccup becoming an adult and discovering more about himself as he discovers more about the world he lives in. This movie’s set five years after the first one, and Hiccup is 20 years old at this point – an adult, but still the same Hiccup we grew to knew and love in the first movie. There’s a lot about HTTYD 2 I want to talk about, so I’ll get the non-spoilery stuff out of the way first.
First off, I’d like to gush about the graphics. I’ve watched both movies pretty much back-to-back lately, and it’s very obvious how much technology has advanced since the first movie came out in 2010. The textures look so much more real, the characters look more lifelike – at times it felt like I could just step through the screen and into this lush fantasy world. And, strangely enough, the first thing that stood out to me when it came to just how much technology had advanced was Stoick’s beard. It looks far better in HTTYD 2, much more realistic…
Another thing that I absolutely loved about the movie was Toothless’ antics. When he wasn’t a central character in a scene, he was still stealing the show in the background, with his silly antics and ridiculous cuteness. I loved him in the first movie, and I love him even more now. And I’m incredibly glad I’ve seen the movie twice – because I won’t lie, there may have been times where I was paying more attention to Toothless goofing off in the background than I was to the main plot.
After the jump, there will be spoilers. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, and don’t want to spoil the story for yourself, don’t read any further!
As much as I loved the story, I will say it was lacking in some places. Some story elements didn’t get explained very well, some just didn’t make sense at all, and some made me go “bwuh?” Like the dragon racing stuff! Where the heck did all that come from? Why is it the first thing we see? I mean, I get that it’s probably meant to show us that the vikings of Berk really do love their dragons, but other than that? It seems like it was wedged in there to create a tie-in to the movie-based dragon racing video game. I mean, come on. Not even Hiccup and Toothless were taking part in the beginning.
And then there’s the whole plotline with Valka, Hiccup’s mother. While I love that they introduced her, and how they introduced her, the whole relationship-building process between her and Hiccup just felt… rushed. I mean, come on, they haven’t seen each other since Hiccup was in little viking diapers, and she left her kid behind to go essentially run a dragon rescue, and he’s okay with all that? (Not to hate on Valka at all. If I were in her shoes, I probably would have done the same thing, I won’t lie.) Hiccup just accepts all this so readily, and so quickly, that it doesn’t quite have the impact that it would have had if there’d been a little bit of conflict, a little bit of a “Geez, mom, you left me alone to feel like a misfit weirdo as a teenager, even though I’m just like you, you don’t think you coulda stuck around at least until I was done with puberty?” sort of response from Hiccup.
Plus, Drogo Bloodfist. There’s not very much to his plot line. He wants all the dragons. He wants to control them. He’s like the Michael Vick of the viking world. We get it. He’s a jerk. But we don’t see why, aside from the fact that a dragon ate his arm. Gobber lost an arm and a leg to the dragons, but you don’t see him making them bow down and do his will, now, do you? Nope. If there was more history behind the whole Drogo bloodline, aside from “Drogo wanted us to control the dragons but we didn’t so he set us on fire and WE HATE HIM NOW”, I think that might have made for a more gripping story. Then again, maybe I’m expecting way too much from a kids movie. Heheh.
That’s not to say I found fault with the entire movie. I mean, if I hated it, why would I have gone to see it twice? (And will probably see it a third time, too) There are many things that were done spectacularly in this movie. Like the whole romance subplot with Hiccup and Astrid. It was subtle, but it was there. And it was incredibly sweet. And I loved it.
And, while it was quite possibly the most depressing section of the movie… Stoick’s death is one of the more gripping parts of the movie. When I saw it in the theater the first time, I may have been sobbing into my Build-a-Bear Toothless from the moment the alpha dragon made Toothless go crazy to the end of Stoick’s viking funeral. When Hiccup and his friends were lighting Stoick’s funeral ship on fire, that was the moment when they all really became adults – the first truly serious moment in both films. Everyone had such serious, somber looks on their faces (even Ruffnut and Tuffnut, who are always screwing around)… It hit me in the feels, so very much.
All in all, despite the flaws I mentioned, I love this movie. Very much. It’s ten times better than the first one, and definitely a movie that I’m going to add to my DVD collection when it comes out. I’ve loved the series since I was first introduced to it by a friend, and this is a marvelous addition to it. (Now, here’s hoping they do another Snoggletog special with grown-up Hiccup…)
I read something that said the wonky character development for his mother is because they originally planned for her to turn out to the villian. I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I’m going to go into with that tidbit of possible knowledge and see what I can glean.