Wednesday, August 20, 2014

REVIEW: How To Train Your Dragon 2

How To Train Your Dragon 2

Jay Baruchel, Cate Blanchett


June 13, 2014

Dean DeBlois

DreamWorks Animation,
20th Century Fox

1 hour 42 minutes



It's one thing for a sequel to be a worthy successor to the original, but for it to be superior to the original is another story.  Case in point, here "How To Train Your Dragon 2" is to surprise me so much in a summer that has already given us so many great movies as it is.  I missed this movie throughout the season due to plans falling through, other movies conflicting, and other things of the sort; and while the movie wasn't in 3D when I saw it, I still found everything else to be just as exhilarating and immersive as it would have been with the goofy glasses on.  Seriously, this is the single biggest surprise of the summer for me, and something I'm really glad I got to see on the big screen before it left.

Before anyone asks, there are plenty of chich├ęd things present here.  For example, many moments are very easy to predict and aren't the most original of ideas.  Not to mention, there's a random subplot of a love square (yeah that's right, four people are involved here) between some of the smaller supporting characters for no reason other than just to have comedy.  But here's the thing: I honestly gave in to everything this movie presented my way.  Recent films like "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" and "Maleficent" were good overall, but their predictability and overused story lines took me out of the experience a little bit, making them drop in quality for me.  Here is a movie that managed to suck me in from frame one and never let me go, regardless of the little tiny flaws that others would have.

As a whole, the story itself is actually well developed and well done considering it had to live up to the original "How To Train Your Dragon."  The main protagonist Hiccup has to go up against a foe who claims to be forming a dragon army, and at the same time has to deal with his father wanting him to be the leader of his Viking tribe as he is now an adult.  Other family issues are present as well, and they all are blended into the story pretty damn well if I say so myself.  The conflicts and moral dilemmas that Hiccup goes through here are not only great to watch, but they were also incredibly relatable to me as somebody getting ready for his final year of high school before college and life take their place.  This is just one of those movies that came into my life at the right time, if that makes any sense, and I think that's why I enjoyed this so much.

As with all DreamWorks movies, one has to talk about how well the voice acting and animation are.  Well, to simply put it, this is the most beautiful animation I've ever seen DreamWorks do.  I'm being completely serious when I say that the animation is the most visceral, entrancing, and gorgeous work that the studio has done in all of their years as a company.  Even though my print of the flick wasn't the 3D cut, I still found the animation to be so good that it on its own kept off the screen.  And as for the voice acting, everyone here did a fantastic job in their respected roles.  Major props go out to Jay Baruchel, Cate Blanchett, Gerard Butler, and Djimon Hounsou for really bringing their A-game to their performances and giving it their all, which in return gave some incredible voice work that appropriately fit with their respected characters.  Everyone else in the movie is great as well, but these four just stood out to me among the rest.

So if you haven't guessed already, I absolutely adored "How To Train Your Dragon 2."  Everything about this movie, including the formulaic stuff that normally would bother me, just simply worked for me.  I'm not going to say this is flawless, because it's not, but it's one of those rare instances where nothing about this movie felt sour or too much.  Instead, I was captivated with every laugh, thrill, and emotion that this movie had within it.  DreamWorks has truly outdone themselves here, and that's saying something considering their previous movies.  If this movie is still playing near you and you haven't had the chance to see it, I implore you to make the time to do so.  This is a movie that, while just as enjoyable on a TV screen at home, is something that is a great theater experience overall.  If you can't make it to the theater, though, try to make the time to see this movie when it arrives on DVD and Blu-Ray.  "How To Train Your Dragon 2" is overall a smart, funny, emotionally investing, and riveting work of animation that just, for me, got every single thing about it right.




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