|Image from: http://www.graceland.edu|
It’s been four long years since the first How to Train Your Dragon was released, a film that I still have a great deal of love for. It’s been an agonising wait for its sequel, but well worth it, as this second installment is truly something special.
Taking place five years after the first film, Berk is a changed place and Vikings live a peaceful existence alongside their “pet” dragons. As a new threat emerges in the form of Drago Bludvist, a man armed with an alpha dragon with the ability to control all others, our hero Hiccup must come to terms with his destiny and lead the charge against him.
Epic is the first thing that comes to mind when thinking how to describe How to Train Your Dragon 2. A sequel that’s superior in every way; bold, imaginative, and raising the bar for animated films.
The leaps in technology since the first film are plain to see.The animation is stunning, crisp and colourful as dragons of various shapes, sizes and colours fill the screen in many sequences. A visual all-you-can-eat buffet, there’s so much going on in each frame that you won’t want to risk blinking.
It’s the story, however, that sets this apart from other films of its genre. A surprisingly grown-up tale, which finds Hiccup torn between his obligation to his father and his need for freedom, is a relatable one and the relationships between the characters give the film depth.
Dean DeBlois, co-director and writer on the first film takes sole custody this time around and never loses sight of what made the first work so well. The endearing relationship between Hiccup and his dragon Toothless is still there, as well as that between father and son. However, this time the stakes are raised considerably and actions have ramifications, making it a much darker and more emotional piece of work.
With our favourite characters still at the heart of the film, it also manages to pack the thrills, and the action sequences scored by the great John Powell are jaw-droppingly joyous.
Already deemed the ‘Dark Knight’ and ‘Empire Strikes Back’ of animated films, How To Train Your Dragon 2 ticks all the boxes for a successful sequel. It’s bigger; expanding on the Viking universe, but keeping the heart of the original firmly in place. It’s more thrilling, more entertaining and even more touching than most films I’ve seen this year, and you’d be foolish for brushing this off as a ‘kids’ film’. Children will indeed love it and some applauded in my screening, but there is still plenty to keep adults enthralled.
A worthy challenger to Pixar, it’s one of the best family films I’ve ever seen. If I have to wait another four years for the third film to be of such quality then it’s worth it, no matter how much I already can’t wait for it.