A sequel to a movie based loosely on a book. It’s the kind of title that will usually set the red flags in my mind, but glowing reviews I’ve heard on the first movie and the fact that I haven’t read the books ultimately won my curiosity over. At the end, it was a won gamble. At least I left the movie theater feeling so much better than the disappointing Maleficent earlier this month.
How to Train your Dragon 2 opens with a narration about how peace has been established and maintained for five years, dragons now a part of the village of Berk and cherished friends to all. Hiccup, the hero, and his Night Fury dragon Toothless, spend much of their time navigating the skies, exploring to lands far and beyond while practicing mapmaking. One day, following a great dragon race at Berk, Hiccup and Toothless find a place covered in ice. When they go to examine the area, her friend Astrid’s dragon is captured. Someone is gathering a dragon army, and he is not one to toy around with…
As seen from the promotional posters, the visuals are good. The dragons have their distinct features and many scenes, including the ice lair and the dragon haven are gorgeous. Colorful and bright juxtaposed to the more emotional scenes create a stunning film.
But a movie is not all about visuals. You have heard me rant about plots again and again. HTTYD restores part of my faith. The plot progression, while linear, is mostly logical. The ending part is rushed, probably to avoid leaving a gaping hole for sequel hook, but up to a certain point the pace is nice. Not too slow and not too fast, allowing you to have glimpses of Berk’s life, the changes the past five years had brought, the character traits, the world, and the looming crisis. The script is written with enough wits to highlight the characters’ quirks but not overdoing it into cheap comedy and get it clever enough to steer you into the narratives.
[spoiler] But the last battle may seem anticlimatic. The enemy alpha does almost nothing to fight back, despite his power to breathe ice massive enough to seriously hurt Berk’s horde of dragons. I’d probably love if they instead cut the movie right after Hiccup got his determination scene, setting up for an epic battle in the sequel. But this way, they don’t leave any loose ends, which is neat when considered differently [end of spoiler].
I am a bit annoyed by Ruffnut, but she’s a good comic relief to many. In one way or another, every character has its turn to shine. Overall, it’s one of the few movies I don’t regret watching. In fact, I’m seriously considering reading the books now.