It is time for Action Movie Friday, where I treat an action movie like an action movie and not like a drama and stuff. All movie reviews are subjective and while I may like something, you might think it’s shit, and vice versa!
Title: How to Train Your Dragon 2
MPAA Rating: PG
Genre: action, animated, fantasy, family
Starring: Jay Baruchel, Cate Blanchett, Gerard Butler, Craig Ferguson, America Ferrera, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, T.J. Miller, Kristen Wiig, Djimon Hounsou, Kit Harington
Director: Dean Deblois
Writer: Dean Deblois, Cressida Cowell (books)
Budget: $145 Million
Box Office: $616 Million
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 92%
It’s been five years since Hiccup tamed Toothless. And things are going fairly well for Berk, and Stoick has decided that it’s time for Hiccup to learn to be Chief. But Hiccup isn’t sure if he’s cut out to be chief and spends his days exploring the lands around Berk. A chance encounter with Dragon Trappers for the warlord Drago Bludvist exposes Berk to the danger of everything Drago Bludvist represents, the trapping and slavery of dragons. Stoick thinks to hide. Hiccups wants to talk. If Drago can’t be reasoned with, Berk will be forced to fight back.
How to Train Your Dragon 2 was the highly anticipated sequel to How To Train Your Dragon. Dreamworks had worked hard to making this a viable franchise with its own television show to keep people hungry for more dragons and explosions. The characters had grown up and instead of fighting against dragons, they were living with them in harmony side by side and learning more about them.
So obviously the conflict from the first movie had to change. But hey, we were back with the flaming battles and the flying and the adventure! And we were all set up for a big conflict again between Stoick and Hiccup about following responsibility and following your heart. Hiccup torn between his dreams of exploring, his long lost mother and Berk and Stoick.
And then it went caput and yeah, it unraveled quickly in favor of this other guy, Drago Bludvist.
Drago Bludvist is the negative Hiccup. He doesn’t want to be friends with dragons. He wants dragons to be controlled. He wants to use dragons on his quest to conquer the world. He wants dragons enslaved and if not enslaved, dead. Fairly simple motivation for a villain, I suppose.
As I watched this movie, I really felt like I was watching two different movies. In one movie, we had Hiccup torn between his mother and his father and their wishes and how to resolve it along with his future and deciding who he is. (I mean, who really knows who they are at what, 17?) Then in the other movie, we had this huge fight between Drago and Hiccup and huge dragons and protecting Berk. And the two plots just never really managed to mesh completely.
What made the first movie so great was because it was down there on a personal level of Hiccup’s desire to fit in with the Vikings and his father not listening to him and it blended really well with the big conflict of the dragons always attacking the village and why. This movie failed to merge their small scale character conflicts with their large scale world conflict. The tones were just too different.
That and Drago was this cookie cut out of a villain. Good for the cartoon series I guess, bad for a feature length movie.
I mean, the dialogue was still good and funny. I still had a good sense of who the main characters were, those that showed up from the previous movie that is. The story as written flowed fine, I just can’t shake the emotion that I’m watching two very different movies mashed into one. So, I’m taking a bite out of the cookie.
There were plenty of explosions to keep me happy and some were more about showing off the dragons than actual needed for plot. One cookie.
The fights were decent. Hiccup and his ingenuity with inventing made for an interesting flaming sword and Stoick and his huge battle axe was fun. He and Valka together were funny. And the dragons got in on the fighting with new techniques. Flaming Zipplebacks rolling around like out of control wheels! One cookie.
There were two women in this movie, Valka and Astrid. Unfortunately, because of Valka, Astrid got less screen time than before and the two never actually interacted beyond an exchanged look or two. Amazingly, Astrid and Hiccup’s relationship had survived the five years. Astrid was still his voice of reason. (Honestly, what little we saw of their relationship is they are that couple, the one that is so nauseatingly in love that while you’re happy for them and it’s adorable, it’s best in small doses.) She was also still reckless and ran off at the mouth a bit too much to Drago. And I’m not happy that they used the character of Eret to replace “Hiccup” in ‘get Astrid out of her messes.’ Look, Astrid got them into a mess, I want Astrid to get them out. Maybe if Eret had been female. Well, then we wouldn’t have those uncomfortable moments of Ruffnut lusting after him.
Valka was interesting. At first she is a mysterious figure who is freeing dragons. And then when she meets Hiccup, she instantly invites him to leave Stoick and Berk and explore the world with her to learn all about dragons. Which is a pretty blatant and rather err, high handed offer since she’s known him all of five minutes at that point. She doesn’t ask about Hiccup’s own dreams or if he has a girl or anything. It was downright rude to be honest. On the other hand, she’s a warm loving person who really does her best to look out for the dragons. And once Stoick arrives, she’s a blubbering mess, that quickly reverts back into confidence when she finds her footing again. She comes off very human.
While I wish Astrid didn’t spend her time being “rescued.” Valka’s humanity made up for it. I’m going to take one bite of this cookie.
Dreamworks has had quite a bit of time to work on the world of Berk and the world building and it showed in the movie. The original movie was beautiful and they outdid themselves technically with this one. The look was consistent with the first movie, though we didn’t see as much of the buildings of Berk as much of the movie took place away from the village. In a way they almost made it too broad, because they introduced a bunch of new dragons and in the first movie they focused on five or six of them so we knew what they did. And then mentioned more, which they expanded upon in the television series. These new dragons, we don’t know what they are outside of names and we don’t know what they can do and what makes them special. And Valka states that Toothless might be the last Night Fury and yes, questions, why? Apparently this will be explained in two years when HttYD 3 will hopefully be coming out. On one hand, yay, a series question. On the other, I don’t like them bringing up questions they aren’t willing to answer in that movie. One bite out of the cookie.
How to Train Your Dragon 2 is a decent movie, but leaves me wishing it was a bit longer or more fleshed out. I’m hungry for more of Berk. Four and a quarter gingersnaps.