Four years after the original success of first film, Hiccup and Toothless are back to the big screen with How to Train Your Dragon 2, a much bolder and darker incursion than its predecessor, but the director Dean Deblois (who also gave us Lilo & Stich) wouldn’t have it any other way – rumour has it he only agreed to the sequels (yes, there will be a third one!) if he could do a proper character development arc on the story, and avoid the classic animation sequel formula “same characters, different adventure” that grew particularly tiresome in the last years.
Hiccup did age particularly well (hm hm, ladies), and Berk is now a dragon-happy town, with dragon racing and fire-breathing monsters being treated as pets by all its inhabitants. But fear not – Hiccup still exasperates his father Stoick, who wants to pass the village command to the tall skinny teenager, but him, as any young adult, would rather do his own thing – explore the world on the back of Toothless, draw maps, and snog sexy Astrid. Soon they run into some “baddies”, and Hiccup finds a strange Dragon Rider who lives in a mysterious ice island…
With a better, denser plot than the first film (in our humble opinion, that is), How to Train Your Dragon 2 is the classic coming of age story, where Hiccup learns more about who he is and, in a particular emotive moment of the film (that made us wonder how many children will get nightmares out of it), how to forgive. Indeed, when did films aimed at children became so dark, one can wonder. Maybe that’s why the ending feels so satisfactory – we do not feel deceived by the simple, straightforward happy ending of a fairy tale. What How to Train Your Dragon brings us is a serious reflection about the relation human/animal that is easily translatable to other less mythological scenarios. All this in a beautiful cinematography (in 3D!!!), with epic action sequences, loads of humor (including the coming out of the closet of one of the characters), teenage hormones, and some Hiccup backstory thrown in.
If you only watch one animation film this year (but why would you do that to yourself?) make it this one. Particularly if you’re a Targaryen in desperate need of some 101 training lessons. As for ourselves, if any of our readers happens to catch a Night Fury, do send it to our offices, we’ll pay for the postage.
How to Train your Dragon 2 will be in UK cinemas in July 11th.