"How to Train Your Dragon 2" is the 2013 sequel to the 2010 DreamWorks hit. While the original focused heavily on forbidden friendships, the sequel touched upon the common theme of finding who you are in a largely unexplored world. Adapting to new things, to others who wish to thwart your own ideals, and to those you love are all takeaways from this film, which is full of subliminal messages and visual appeal.
"How to Train Your Dragon 2" follows the story of Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel) and Toothless, his dragon companion, on their journey to new explorations. Hiccup's desires revolve around traveling across new boundaries and discovering the world beyond his home in the village of Berk. Of course, his father Stoick (voiced by Gerard Butler) wants something else for Hiccup, which introduces viewers to the main underlying theme of finding who one really is. Hiccup is left to not only discover the world, but what his place in it is.
While that does seem to be the main theme in the film, the plot still introduces us to the negatives of what exploration can bring. Hiccup soon realizes that his ideals will be challenged by those who have their own set of beliefs when he meets Drago (voiced by Djimon Hounsou), a conqueror who seeks to control dragons to do his bidding. Armed with his faithful companion Toothless by his side, Hiccup must find a way to persuade the evils of the world to help bring peace to both humans and dragons alike.
Hiccup isn’t without his friends on this journey. Astrid (America Ferrera), Snotlout (Jonah Hill), Fishlegs (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), Tuffnut (T.J. Miller), Ruffnut (Kristen Wiig), and Gobber (Craig Ferguson) all return, along with newcomer Eret (Kit Harington), adding a nice blend of humor to an otherwise family oriented film. Another plus is Toothless, who is perhaps one of the most endearing and appealing main animal characters in an animated film.
Aside from the slightly linear and predictable plot, the film manages to inspire exploration, not only of an environment, but of oneself. It drives home the message of finding what you do well and discovering your place in the world. While there may be challenges along the way, "How to Train Your Dragon 2" teaches you to remain true to who you are. As an animated children’s film about dragons, it’s a great way to subliminally instill that message in its viewership. Overall, It was perhaps a step down from the original, but still worthy enough to earn some praise.
Final grade? B+