How to Train Your Dragon 2 is amazing. AMAZING. It has some problems with pacing and sometimes motivations are a little unclear or could have been beefed up a little bit, and some things happen a bit too fast with little explanation (like I said...pacing), but it's still an incredibly solid movie from start to finish, especially in terms of animation and voice acting (one character in particular just because it was so surprising). But while it is stunning to look at (PIXAR who?), the real, genuine emotion present in many of the film's key sequences is what makes this movie truly special and as with the first movie, the relationship between Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and Toothless is rightfully this movie's driving force. Unlike the first movie, however, where their arc was focused on their burgeoning friendship and Hiccup's attempts to show that dragons weren't at all what vikings believed them to be, their arc in this movie - in ways both good and bad - challenges that friendship and the trust that they have built over the years.
Hiccup and Toothless only want to be free, but life, as well as Hiccup's father, has other plans for our protagonists.
How to Train Your Dragon 2 also introduces us to some new characters and it's one of these new characters, Eret Son of Eret (voiced by Kit Harington a.k.a. Jon Snow), who is actually one of the better parts of the movie. He's a wonderful addition to the HTTYD universe and real talk...Kit's voice acting is a million times better than whatever the hell he's doing on Game of Thrones. Eret is honestly a very interesting character to
look at watch. Valka (Cate Blanchett) and Drago Bludvist (Djimon Hounsou), the other new characters, weren't as there for me or as fully developed as I wish they had been, but I still enjoyed Valka for the most part and Drago was definitely one of the more inspired in terms of character design. [As an aside - speaking of character design, I love Snotlout's (Jonah Hill). His design is my absolute favorite in the movie and I find myself looking for him and at him whenever he is on screen. His entire look is very aesthetically pleasing and there's just something altogether mesmerizing about him.]
Hotshot trapper Eret Son of Eret attempts to capture Toothless so as to make quota for Drago Bludvist's ever-growing dragon army.
The movie, while emotional, is also really funny. And it's always the right amount of funny. It's never over the top (okay maybe a little bit with one scene in particular) and the jokes never last any longer than they need to. A bulk of the humor comes from Ruffnut (Kristen Wiig), and while on the subject of my favorite Thorston, I have to admit that when I first heard about her story line in this movie I was extremely disappointed. By all accounts, it looked like she had been haphazardly thrown into an overambitious love quadrangle that didn't need to be happening, but the way it eventually played out in the movie was actually more than I could have asked for because she had complete agency over herself. And can I also just say that it's kind of nice to see two guys fawn over the girl who's not traditionally feminine? The fact that she wanted nothing to do with either of them certainly helped.
"A chief protects his own." - Stoick the Vast (Gerard Butler)
So all in all, I loved it. As I said before, the pacing is a bit quick and as such we lose a bit of the heart that the original had, but it's still very much enjoyable in a number of ways and I would definitely recommend it. Duh. 8.5/10.
And as a bonus, here are my favorite songs from the soundtrack:
Hiccup; the Chief
For the Dancing and Dreaming
Hiccup Confronts Drago