How To Train Your Dragon 2 (3D)
Friday, 18 July 2014

How To Train Your Dragon 2 (3D)

A genius piece of animation that burns The Lego Movie to a crisp

Written by Kat Brown
kat brown1-BWWith Disney’s last two releases, Maleficent and Muppets Most Wanted, playing largely in the chord of ‘dismal’, the vacancy for an adorable children’s film that adults love too has been unfilled since February’s The Lego Movie.

How To Train Your Dragon 2 swoops in and burns Lego to a crisp. It helps that it’s the sequel to one of the finest, funniest films in recent memory, a 2010 interpretation of English author Cressida Cowell’s books about Berk, a Viking village whose inhabitants live alongside a number of oversized flying ovens.

In that film, weedy teenager Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel) wins round the dragon-battling people of Berk after he realises that dragons and people can co-exist. His secret weapon is Toothless, a one-of-a-kind dragon whom he befriends after shooting him out of the sky, and after some battling and general plot we left Berk with everyone happily caring for their own extremely smug-looking flame pet.

Now five years have passed and Hiccup’s father, Chief Stoick (Gerard Butler), is pushing for his son to take over the chieftaincy. Hiccup would much rather fly around with his girlfriend Astrid (America Ferrara) exploring new territories with their dragons, but when they encounter dragon trappers and a vast cave of new dragons overseen by a mysterious Dragon Rider, a new threat to Berk’s peaceful existence appears.

As energising as Hiccup and his Viking chums are, the real heroes of the film are the dragons. At the screening I attended, some poor actor was earning his Equity card in a Toothless suit. Children and adults alike behaved with the awed wonder of someone meeting the Queen, but better and with wings. The dragons are a genius piece of animation; gorgeously characterful combinations of feline smugness and canine enthusiasm, topped off with the colours of a Fisher-Price felt-tip pen set. They are enchanting, and writer/director Dean DeBlois wisely factors in some time for the audience to simply enjoy their company.

The film opens with such a joyous romp through the sky that it sparks tears. The 3D makes sense when you’re ducking and diving through rock formations and hovering above the crowds, but most of the time you’re gasping at the sights rather than how close they appear to your nose. But the story can’t all be flying around having a jolly nice time, and when it comes to the inevitable hour, Berk must defend both itself and its dragons.

There is genuine tragedy here and, as ever, the children in the audience were far more resilient than the adults, who were conspicuously trying to conceal tears and sniffles. But the tears come because it’s so easy to love these feisty, ridiculous Vikings, and unless your pet shows signs of growing wings – and my cat has so far failed in this regard – this is as close to joining their world as you’ll ever get. As a visit, this wonderful film can’t be beaten.


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