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Movie review: ‘How to Train Your Dragon 2’

06/12/2014 4:00 PM

06/12/2014 10:57 AM

In a pivotal moment of How to Train Your Dragon 2, new character Valka — the guardian of all dragons — tells our hero Hiccup that he has “the heart of a chief but the soul of a dragon.”

The sequel to DreamWorks Animation’s successful How to Train Your Dragon (2010) expands on the emotions of the coming-of-age tale of a boy and his dragon.

In a whirlwind intro scene, we return to the Isle of Berk five years after Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel) showed the Vikings that dragons were not evil creatures. The town celebrates the union between human and beast with dragon races. What’s notably missing at the celebration is the narrator of the story, Hiccup, and his trustworthy dragon, Toothless, the lovable Night Fury.

Hiccup is again avoiding his father, Stoick (Gerard Butler), who wants to groom Hiccup to eventually succeed him as chief. Hiccup distracts himself by going off on adventures to find new lands and new dragons. It’s on one of these lone adventures where his betrothed, Astrid (America Ferrera), finds Hiccup, who is mapping out everyone’s world but his own. The scenes quickly establish the emotional connection the boy has with his dragon.

After trying out one of his latest inventions that allows him to fly without Toothless, Hiccup discovers an ice island and a mysterious dragon rider, aka Valka (Cate Blanchett). The island is a sanctuary for dragons who are being hunted down by new villain Drago (Djimon Hounsou).

Director Dean DeBlois, who directed the first film and wrote the sequel’s screenplay, does a fine job of tugging at the heartstrings and adding elements of humor through the interactions between the dragons and humans. The 3-D version enhances the fantastical world and gives depth to the beautiful animation.

The crux of the film, however, is the fierce and loyal friendship of Hiccup and Toothless. At times, the story takes a darker turn, but it’s a worthwhile move that shows that the storyteller is confident the audience will follow along Hiccup’s discovery of his past to fulfill his destiny.

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