Welcome to the second installment of June’s JUST GO SEE IT: Review and Rethink Edition! Up for another look this week is How to Train Your Dragon 2, the sequel to the animated adventure that featured…you guessed it: dragons! I’ll try to avoid any spoilers again, though to be fair, the trailers for this movie are quite spoiler-y on their own!
While the first How to Train Your Dragon focused on the emerging peace between the people of Berk and the dragons they had seen as mortal enemies for so long, the second movie begins with a scene that quickly illustrates just how integrated into Berk’s existence the creatures have become since Hiccup and Toothless befriended each other. In the scene, several of the characters from the first movie are taking part in a competitive game where they ride their dragons around the island, collect live sheep, and throw them into baskets for points. The island is conspicuously empty in the first few frames of the movie, but as the characters begin to score points, we see that the only reason for this is that all of the Berks (Berk-ites? Berkies?) are gathered in the grandstands around the goal area, cheering on their favorite dragon-Berk team – it’s clearly a popular community event.
Other scenes showed the dragons taking part in daily life in more constructive ways that don’t depend on their ability to fly. One such scene features a big, fat, lazy dragon, who we find plopped down, slumbering in the middle of the blacksmith’s shop. The blacksmith walks into the area, and playfully shouts at the dragon for falling asleep and “allowing the forge to go out.” Sleepily, the dragon sits up and hawks a massive fireball into the forge, and, in true hilarious family movie fashion, he nearly ignites the whole shop in the process! I liked both the blacksmith and sheep-game scenes because they represent a cleverly imaginative way of thinking about how dragons could possibly be integrated into human life. Not that I’m necessarily expecting that to happen anytime soon.
It’s hard to point out other *particular* aspects of the movie that were fantastic, because the entire thing is just incredibly heartwarming and fun. There were a few particular plot points that I was not a fan of, but that wasn’t due to poor writing. I freely admit that I am just hard to please when it comes to character and story development at times. Other than those brief points, though, HTTYD2 is quite fantastic. The animation is beautiful as it was in the first, and the characters are ridiculously lovable. Toothless continues to somehow remind Mystie and I of our cat (we’re not the only ones, though – a friend recently told me he thinks the same regarding Toothless and his cat!), and the baby dragons are so freakin’ cute. A soundtrack that includes Jonsi of Sigur Ros can’t hurt, either!
Therefore, overall, I’d say there is no need for a rethink here. JUST GO SEE IT! And take your kids, friends, and family with you – this one is definitely great for everyone, at any age.