Five years after Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and Toothless became fast friends, Hiccup’s father Stoick (Gerard Butler) wants his son to take over as chief of Berk. Hiccup is thrown into chaos by having to make the choice, and is further confused when he meets a mysterious Dragon Rider who turns out to be someone he thought he lost a long time ago. Meanwhile, Drago (Djimon Hounsou) threatens every dragon in the land as he tries to seize power.
The first instalment in the How to Train Your Dragon series was a wildly popular adventure movie, filled with relatable characters and dragons that turned out to be cute as well as fearsome. This time out, the characters have grown up, but they are still as adventurous yet unsure as they were, and have new enemies to face.
The voice cast return, and do a great job with their characters; Jay Baruchel, America Ferrera, Kristen Wiig, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Gerard Butler work well together; their chemistry and energy making the film feel bright and action packed. Cate Blanchett is a new addition to the cast and brings depth and sadness to her character, even if her accent is a little all over the place – is she Scottish? Irish? English? Who knows! Kit Harington also blends in with the cast, and Djimon Hounsou’s wonderful voices makes Drago seem like a truly formidable foe.
As with the last movie, Hiccup’s issues are more to do with his family and the direction he wants to go in his life, rather than actually having to deal with dragons; the creatures just make a welcome and often comedic addition to the story. As screenwriter, Dean DeBlois makes the characters’ struggles feel real and never forced, while filling the movie with fun and danger.
As director, DeBlois has created a film that is bright and colourful, with fast paced and fun set pieces. A lot of the comedy comes from the dragons, be they interacting with one another in the background, behaving like a combination of playful cats and dogs, or showing affection to their loyal humans. The drama comes from pitting friend against friend, which also adds a layer of tragedy to the film. The animation is beautifully done, and for once the 3D actually serves to enhance the film; playing up the speed and skill of the dragon flights and chases.
How to Train Your Dragon 2 is as damn near perfect as it is possible to be; great action, huge heart and beautiful animation build a fun and engaging film. Laughter and tears give way to one another in this tale of adventure, loss and friendship. The only complaint is Blanchett’s geographically sprawling accent.