I’m going to start off by saying I really liked the original How to Train Your Dragon. It was a fun and whimsical romp through a uniquely painted environment. But while I liked the first movie, I fell head-over-heels, madly in LOVE with How to Train Your Dragon 2! I went into the theater skeptical that the sequel would be able to live up to the first one, but from start to finish I was entertained for a huge variety of reasons. Now, let’s get into some of those reasons, shall we?
Let’s talk characters. I don’t know if it was letting writer Dean DeBlois fully take the helm on the sequel (he co-directed the first film), or perhaps including the writer of the original children’s book, Cressida Cowell put her touch on it, but it was SO well written. I loved the way the characters interacted with each other, whether it was cracking jokes that hit me square in the funny bone, or heart-warming moments that had me choking back tears so I wasn’t the dude in his mid-twenties crying in a theater full of children. I haven’t seen an animated film that so accurately hit emotions quite like this in a very long time. (Your move Pixar!) And these characters are put through the ringer. Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and his pals face incredible peril, and you truly feel these fun characters get beaten down before they stand back up. That makes the upward movement later in the movie feel so much more rewarding.
But what are great characters without an amazing story? Not sure, but luckily we won’t have to find out from How to Train Your Dragon 2, because the plot is great! The stakes are insurmountably higher in the second movie. No longer are we just trying to convince dear old, stubborn dad that dragons “ain’t so bad." The fate of the entire world lays in the balance. And that world expands SO much further than the little village of Berk this time around. As Hiccup states in the beginning of the movie, with Vikings on the backs of dragons, the world just got a whole lot bigger. I’m happy it did, because this is a world I’m happy to come back to again and again to explore. And explore it we do!
All in all, How to Train Your Dragon 2 isn’t just a good kids movie, it is a fantastic adventure! An adventure that is going to hurt my wallet, because I know I’m going to be going back to the theater just to relive it. This movie is well worth seeing, and toss in the extra few bucks to see it in IMAX, because each frame of it is breathtakingly colorful and engaging.