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'How to Train Your Dragon 2' review: Extra drama, not enough dragon personality

America Ferrara, Kit Harington, Craig Ferguson, Jay Baruchel, Djimon Hounsou, and Gerard Butler pose with a Toothless figure at the premiere of "How to Train Your Dragon 2."
America Ferrara, Kit Harington, Craig Ferguson, Jay Baruchel, Djimon Hounsou, and Gerard Butler pose with a Toothless figure at the premiere of "How to Train Your Dragon 2."
Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

How to Train Your Dragon 2

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For a children’s movie sequel, “How to Train Your Dragon 2” may be a Hollywood attempt to make more money out of a surprise hit but it still earns the same respect and some of the love the original received. Balancing between adventure, family spirit, and self-confidence, this follow-up develops the characters into the logical next stage of their lives.

After teaching the people of Berk that dragons can be their friends in the previous film, Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel) continues his almost solitary life by exploring and mapping new regions with his beloved companion dragon, Toothless. Stoick (Gerard Butler), his father and the chief of Berk, tries to prepare him for the role of successor and is supported by Hiccup’s girlfriend, Astrid (America Ferrara), but Hiccup does not relate to the Viking world. During one of his exploratory journeys, Hiccup learns of looming danger for Berk when he conflicts with Eret (Kit Harington) and his team of dragon trappers hired to provide a dragon army for villainous Drago (Djimon Hounsou). Deciding to present Drago with a voice of reason, Hiccup sets out to find him but finds his long-lost mother, Valka (Cate Blanchett), instead, and a whole dragon sanctuary. With their differing sets of knowledge, Hiccup, Valka, Stoick, and Hiccup’s peers learn much more about dragons and family legacy.

Much like the previous film, “HtTYD2” focuses primarily on Hiccup’s journey of self-discovery and his attempt to find his place in the world. Part dragon nurturer, like his mother, and part leader, like his father, Hiccup learns to find self-confidence. Toothless, too, learns his true potential. Toothless falls somewhere between adventurous pet, such as Disney’s Stitch, and loyal companion dog, like Old Yeller. Hiccup and Toothless’ friendship and loyalty to each other provide the foundation of the film’s warmth and their empowerment through love is encouraging. The only major negative when comparing the sequel to its predecessor is its focus on the humans; the earlier film taught the audience about dragons as Hiccup learned them whereas the second is dominated by Hiccup’s search for self with dragons becoming more scenery than characters.

The basic story of “HtTYD2” uses a core model reminiscent of numerous plots, but the fun perspective highlighting curiosity and constant growth of knowledge makes an enjoyable film. Valka’s knowledge shows there’s always more to learn to excel and to learn from each other, a way for Toothless and Hiccup to grow together.

A vivid family film, “How to Train Your Dragon 2” contains surprisingly little frightening moments. Even the use of 3D is bearable for children because the movie contains few lunging effects. It’s appropriate family fun with adorable and silly dragons aiding the family drama.

Rating for “How to Train Your Dragon 2:” A-

For more information on this film or to view its trailer, click here.

“How to Train Your Dragon 2” is everywhere in Columbus, including Gateway and Arena Grand. For showtimes, click here.