10 June 2014 | billygoat1071
Soaring Way Up High
How to Train Your Dragon 2 follows the common rule of sequels by making everything bigger, even though that isn't always enough to justify the series. In fact, it usually leads the franchise into a disaster, and thankfully this film is one of the rare which lives up to its promise. While it already provides the most breathtaking action and impressive visuals, it also able to expand the universe and give huge room for nice warmth beneath the bombast. Once again, the studio has put aside their recent style of broader gags and bullet speed pacing and settle down for a real storytelling that reminds us why animated movies are so appealing anyway. How to Train Your Dragon 2 has given all what you've wished for as a great sequel.
The plot sure does heightened into an epic installment, it could have been an easy throw away of cool effects, battle sequences, and humor, but the movie is smart to keep on following its own roots by settling more on the characterization of their world and Hiccup's life with his dragon and the tribe. To keep it from being a wheel spinning visual showcase, the story embeds itself with full of inspired emotions, example is when it explores the icy dragon cave. It wasn't only an exposition, it is mainly a developing relationship between Hiccup and his long-lost mother. The quieter moments of letting the once disconnected family reunite again captures the same heart of the boy and dragon friendship of the first movie, which certainly made it pretty endearing.
The film also spends its time exploring more places around and beyond the Isle of Berk. It's quite interesting to let the years pass by and make the young vikings grow mature, and how it depicts their maturity is pretty clever, like the hormonal attraction of Snotlout and Fishlegs to Ruffnut, in spite of fact their comic relief get a a bit way out of hand. The dragon species were also given enough intriguing details, essentially for the plot, which sort of recalls the book series of Cressida Cowell. This is a rich universe that makes the whole journey even bigger.
The voice acting is predictably great. Jay Baruchel still brings the same earnestness to Hiccup even when the character's new appearance has outgrown his voice. Gerard Butler remains to be perfect as Stoick The Vast, he lends more gravity to the character in this one. Cate Blanchett joins in and she appropriately gives a great amount of warmth to the role. The other cast did well enough at keeping things much alive. For the filmmaking, the direction handles a better pacing compared to the other quicker cuts of the last few animated films. It's an easier way to watch by concentrating each scene of getting know of the characters, either with or without any dialogue. The flying scenes have always been a tremendous ride with scale and fortitude. John Powell's score helps making it feel much powerful, and it gets even better with a Jónsi song in it.
Apart from Disney, these are the only animated films of Hollywood today that have a wider ambition other than selling off kids with cool visuals and absurdist humor. There is an actual story to be found here, even without following its source material. The typical elements of Dreamworks are still there, but is hardly noticed. It's nearly like the first film, except of course it's larger. It does justice to today's family fare, somewhat forgetting the current mediocrity and rather fills it with inspiration from the past. One thing that is missing in most of the genre's attempt of transcending their films is the sincerity to its heart. Every affection in How To Train Your Dragon 2 never felt forced and right there it soars way up high. And if we have learned something about training dragons from the past, then it is the same thing about sequels: You don't just yell at it.