The Matters At Hand

How To Train Your Dragon 2 (2014)
A Review By Ben Hunter
3½ Out Of 5 Stars
June 13, 2014


It’s not a pressing matter, but when you finally get around to it, you’ll love it!


Some have their armies, others have their armadas … but the little town of Berk … has its dragons!

5 years after Berk realized that dragons were their counterparts and not their enemies (the last Dragon film), Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and his dragon Toothless find themselves in the middle of a war that could tear apart their society and their world, as they know it. 

I really like the introduction of Cate Blanchett’s character Valka.  For I found that she was the cornerstone of my interest in this story.  When Stoick (Gerard Butler) reunites with her after 20 years, the look on his face, the slow and very slow approach towards her in realization of who she is, her remorseful and defensive reaction to that slow approach in fear of his rejection, the slight tears in his eyes, the tension now built, the vulnerability from both in particular with her that filled that room, leaked off of the screen and into the movie theater I screened the film within and all it took was the one sentence that made her and now myself shed a tear when he said, “you’re as beautiful as the day I lost you”. 

I was now on board with this story.

I had forgotten about the story issues I had with the first film which I realize now I kind of really disliked, which made me reluctant to view this one.  The fact that all of this, this world of Vikings and dragons and the stories that have come about, but primarily the relationship between our heroes and how we learn how to train your dragon, was all based upon a pretty huge and unbelievable coincidence that takes place in the beginning of the first film.  I still quite can’t get with that, but there are some likeable characters here, storylines we can get behind, and people we can relate to and such. 

For instance, I could understand our villain here Drago (Djimon Hounsou, "Jy-Mun Hun-Soo") and his malicious nature and why he feels the way he does.  I kept saying throughout his scenes, “Hey that’s Djimon Hounsou’s voice!  ‘Give us us free!’”  Or the likeable supporting characters voiced by Jonah Hill and America Ferrera (the love interest). 

But just like the last Dragon, I couldn’t TRULY immerse myself with this world.  I loved the relationships with the main characters; the “I lost you” scene brought a tear to my eye.  I listened to my body and realized I have love for this DreamWorks story of dragons now.  But in no way is it a Kung Fu Panda, or a Shrek.  A good friend of mine made a great point that the title is now misused as the "training your dragon" part has been removed with this installment.  

A different approach was taken with the material.  DreamWorks had the story structure, was well aware of it, and then said, “how can we differentiate this from the norm and not have this come off as ‘traditional’”.  The love interest with America Ferrera’s character suffered in my opinion because of this.  They tried to “do something different” and focused on Hiccup and his parents, forgetting about the girlfriend.  I would’ve liked to have seen more from her as I kept thinking there was more to come with her; the same with Jonah Hill’s character.  He was hardly used at all. 

Dragon 2 definitely touches the human spirit, the overall objective for all movies.  So it certainly does something right.  It’s a great film you should definitely check out.  You don’t need to see the first one to enjoy this sequel, but like with all sequels, it always helps to do so.  It’s not something to see immediately in theaters especially if there’s something bigger or more pressing and irritating your movie itch.  It can definitely wait for Netflix. 

But when you do finally get around to it, you’ll love it!

How To Train Your Dragon 2
Family, 102 Minutes, PG
Based on the “How To Train Your Dragon” book series
By: Cressida Cowell
Written & Directed by: Dean Dublois
Cast: Jay Baruchel, Cate Blancett, Gerard Butler, Jonah Hill, America Ferrera, Craig Ferguson, Kristen Wiig, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, & Djimon Hounsou

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