When the original How to Train Your Dragon hit theaters in 2010 it surprised audiences bringing something fresh and new to the animated genre. Since it has gone on to spawn a TV series and finally the much anticipated follow-up film is here aptly titled How To Train Your Dragon 2, but does it live up to the fun of the original or will it feel like one of those cash grab sequels that kills the once promising franchise?
How To Train Your Dragon 2 follows everyone’s favorite Viking and dragon duo five years later after they have united the Vikings and dragons on the island of Berk. Now determined to map the uncharted territories they discover a cave in the ice revealing a home to not only hundreds of new wild dragons but an unbelievable secret that will change his life forever as well as a dangerous new enemy who is determined to take the dragons into his own personal army. As with any follow-up the most important thing is to have the original cast return which they have here with Jay Baruchel, Cate Blanchett, Gerard Butler, Craig Ferguson, America Ferrera, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, T.J. Miller, Kristen Wiig as well as new comers to the series Djimon Hounsou and Kit Harrington. To say they stepped things up is an understatement. They did everything here that is necessary to make for the perfect sequel. The biggest score here came with the character designs as they not only showcased a slew of new awesome dragons including the alphas that are awesome, but they also actually aged the characters physically to give you the feel that the story is actually moving forward. On the story side they took everything that made the first film work and built upon it keeping the formula intact while still bringing plenty of new fresh elements to the mix including some really emotional and both heartbreaking and heartwarming story elements.
As with the first film they have created a beautiful visual world that gives you the epic feel needed for these environments to work. They really take full advantage of making the surroundings add to the effect with some breathtaking moments involving the dragons soaring the skies and an impactful moment between two characters that works as good as any actual live action film. As mentioned before the new character designs really get amped up to bring some new fun to this world keeping with the vibrant colors and insanely cool designs. While it may be hard to believe, the dragons play a much bigger role this time around both in the story telling and physically on screen. When the alpha is unleashed on the screen it instantly lives up to its name making for one of the coolest new dragon designs in the series.
The 3D works more to add depth to the film, but when it is utilized for the in your face aspect it works pretty well, but doesn’t add a whole lot to the overall product. This is easily not only one of the best sequels to date it actually stands pretty high above the original as well. This franchise is better than ever and while it would be great to see another entry in the series at the same time it is hard to believe that they could out do this film and may be best to let it cap it off with perfection. This is one film that should be seen in the theater to enjoy the full joy of its size so grab your dragon and hit the skies as soon as you can.