How to Train Your Dragon 2
- James Mottram
- 10 July 2014
The animated vikings 'n' dragons sequel arrives full of its predecessor’s invention, wit and flair
Cast your mind back to 2010, and Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders’ animated adventure How To Train Your Dragon. Inspired by the series of YA books by Cressida Cowell, this tale of a young Viking named Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel) and his impossibly cute fire-breathing friend Toothless took nearly $500 million at cinemas around the world, making a sequel inevitable.
Thankfully, despite the unimaginative title, How To Train Your Dragon 2 arrives full of its predecessor’s invention, wit and flair. Set five years on, we return to the village of Berk, still run by Hiccup’s father Stoick (Gerard Butler), where inhabitants are now on friendly terms with dragons. While he knows that one day all this will be his, Hiccup has his eye set on adventures further afield.
Together with Toothless and his companion Astrid (America Ferrera), he encounters an island-haven for dragons, an ice-sculpted sanctuary overseen by a mysterious Dragon Rider named Valka (a Celtic-sounding Cate Blanchett). While this discovery throws Hiccup a surprising emotional curveball, danger also lurks in the shape of a fearsome Dragon Hunter named Drago (a booming Djimon Hounsou).
Written and directed solely by DeBlois – Sanders got sidetracked with last year’s caveman cartoon The Croods – the director has cited Star Wars’ landmark 1980 sequel The Empire Strikes Back as his template. And while it might be pushing it to compare the two, DeBlois’ script has ambition – one that should resonate with viewers of any age.
Shot in 3D, as you’d expect the visuals are top-grade, even if the rather endless flying sequences get a little tiresome. Likewise, the comedy doesn’t always hit (a surprise, given Hollywood funny people Jonah Hill, Kristen Wiig and Christopher Mintz-Plasse all return). But minor gripes aside, there’s more than enough here to delight fans and maybe even snare some newcomers.