Thursday, June 12, 2014

MOVIES IN REVIEW: How To Train Your Dragon 2

** Spoiler Alert**

This has been a sequel four years in the making, the first was released in 2010. The movie however picks up five years later as we're reintroduced to the dragon loving village of Berk. How To Train Your Dragon 2 opens with the villages new dragon rider game, using sheep and a sort of basket system with points. This helps us to get reintroduced to the characters, just in case you haven't been watching the Dreamworks Dragons (2012) tv series, or the How To Train Your Dragon Legends (2010). Did you know there is already a How To Train Your Dragon 3, set for 2016, in the works? Not surprising, given where we are left off at the end of this second installment.

Five Years Later - Now Astrid and Hiccup are 20 years old

As I was saying, during this competition in the village, we are being reintroduced to the characters. There is the mighty Chieftain Stoick (voiced by Gerard Butler), his right hand man Gobber (voiced by Craig Ferguson), and then you have all of Hiccup's friends. Astrid (voiced by America Ferrera) is, as Stoick puts it, is his future daughter-in-law. Snotlout (voiced by Jonah Hill) and Fishlegs (voiced by Christopher Mintz-Plasse) are swooning over Ruffnut (voiced by Kristen Wiig) as her twin brother Tuffnut (voiced by T. J. Miller) tries to keep up. Then there is Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel) who is the only son of Stoick's. There are new characters as well. We are introduced to Hiccup's Mother, Valka (voiced by Cate Blanchett) and by the end of the movie another new member of Berk, Eret (voiced by Kit Harrington).

Hiccup and Toothless Flying High

After the village's game is over, we are reconnected with Hiccup and Toothless as they're flying high and enjoying the freedom of their moment. Hiccup asks Toothless is he's ready to try again and he prepares to depart his Nightfury and starts plummeting through the skies. Toothless is never far behind, but suddenly Hiccup is flying as well! He's created wings, so to speak, of his own and they're gliding through the air. He still has some kinks to work out after they crash land on an island, but all is well. I love this scene and was actually laughing out loud at the interactions between Hiccup and Toothless. I could tell a lot of development and time went into that scene and it was awesome.

Toothless and Hiccup - clowning around as best friends do

However, I felt like the movie overall seemed a little rough around the edges. I liked it, don't get me wrong. What really irritated me was I had seen a commercial where they were trying to suggest that this movie was comparable to Frozen (2013), which I don't think it was. Dreamworks is 20 years old, compared to the decades of experience that Disney has. I think How To Train Your Dragon 2 (HTTYD2) was a great movie, and yes I'll probably see it again. But, I don't think it will surpass Frozen. That's just my opinion. This is one of the reasons: There were times in HTTYD2 that I felt the music didn't fit the scene. Music has a big impact on the emotion and connectivity between the movie and the viewer. There was one part in particular where I remember thinking this sounds like some epic battle scene and it was during a more peaceful, tranquil scene - it just didn't fit and it made me feel disconnected. That's just me being a movie snob though.

Eret proclaims to be the best trapper
Getting back to the movie now, Astrid catches up with Hiccup and as they go riding off they have a run-in with Eret. He's working for Drago (voiced by Djimon Hounsou) who is the villain and is out to capture all the dragons. However, Eret blames Hiccup and Astrid for the destruction of their base where they were trying to trap dragons. Once they've escaped Eret and return to Berk, they explain what is going on to Stoick who knows Drago and he knows how dangerous he is. Stoick is ordering the lock-down of Berk, but Hiccup is convinced that he can talk to Drago and find a way for peace. Hiccup manages to slip out before the gates close.

Once Hiccup is on his way, he is intercepted by a mysterious being and further more this mystery is riding a dragon. Another dragon picks off Hiccup from Toothless as the Nightfury plummets to the icy waters below. Where we see him struggling and we're left in fear of his life.
Valka has been the protector of the dragons
Hiccup explains to the stranger that his dragon can't fly on his own. The stranger stays silent until they return to their icy base camp. This is where it is revealed that the mystery character is actually Hiccups mother. His mother has been working these 20 years saving the dragons and she shows him how they live and even introduces him to the alpha. She explains the whole alpha situation, which is a big plot point further on in the movie. When Stoick catches up to Hiccup, he is also reunited with his wife and they share a lovely evening of rekindled love. I enjoyed watching the near euphoria of Hiccup watching his mother and father interact, something he has never seen before. But, much like life, all good things must come to an end...

Astrid's matured, still tough and bold
Meanwhile, Astrid and the others have managed to get away from Berk as well and are on a mission to reach Drago. They capture Eret and through Astrid's techniques, get him to lead them to Drago. Once they have arrived at the villains secret location, they are soon found out and captured. Drago immediately flexes his muscles demonstrating how he commands his dragons in an alpha way. When he tries to dispose of Eret, Astrid's dragon saves him and he's forever changed, Eret now understands that the dragons aren't bad. When the whole group are about to be disposed of, Eret leads the counter strike and they are able to free themselves and start out to find their dragons.

Back with Hiccup and his reconnected family, Valka (Hiccups Mother, Stoick's wife) has agreed to return home to Berk with them. They're interrupted by the attack of Drago and a war is underway. Stoick is a loving husband and follows Valka's lead, as she mounts her dragon to go into battle in the attempt to safe their current location and all the innocent dragons. Drago strikes hard and fast calling out the Alpha's as they ensue an epic battle. However, when Drago's alpha (who had an advantage) wins, he thinks he has won the war. When Hiccup lands before him pleading Drago to listen to him. Drago wants anything but peace and soon commands his alpha dragon to possess Toothless. This is heartbreaking because Toothless fights the alpha, but eventually is powerless to the alphas abilities. Drago then orders Toothless to kill Hiccup... however, Stoick sees what is going on and runs to save his son, only jumping between the Nightfury and his son taking on the blue blast.

Short Lived Family Reunion - Stoick, Hiccup and Valka

Everyone rushes to Stoick's side, but it's too late, he's dead. Hiccup, in anger tells Toothless (who has been released from the alpha's entrapment) to go away. Toothless didn't know what he had done, and is upset himself as Drago mounts Toothless and they fly off toward Berk. Hiccup and the gang, in honorary Viking style, send off their Chief Stoick in style. He's laid upon a boat drifting to sea, as Gobber and Hiccup say their last words Hiccup shoots an fiery arrow that hits the boat near his father's laid out body. The rest of the group follow suit, and it is a sad time. They know that they have to go and defend Berk... but how? Hiccup has the answer.

Yeah! That's the Alpha Drago has control of...

Drago grunting commands in the heat of battle
When they arrive home, Drago has already started his attack, the Alpha has called the dragons to his side and it seems hopeless. He knows he has to get Toothless back in order to save Berk and defeat Drago. The team works together to distract the alpha and to try to separate Drago and the Alpha. Hiccup pleads with Toothless to fight the alpha's influence and to come back to him, when he does he quickly dumps Drago and they are reconnected. However, it's short lived as the alpha traps them (in true Toothless style, he wraps himself around Hiccup protecting him) within his ice as his mother runs to try to free them. It seems nothing can be done. Then, there is a blue glowing from within the icy tomb as the ice is shattered -- Toothless is there and he is pissed. He challenges the Alpha - Valka has previously shown Toothless a unique feature he possessed (spikes on his back) and now another new feature - which you can see slightly in the header is how he emanates his blue fiery powers.

Toothless kicks butt and once and claims the alpha position leaving the other mega alpha to retreat into his watery abyss. The dragons bow to Toothless recognizing his new position among them as Hiccup is also named the new Chief - to which his father, previously in the movie, was trying to prepare him for. The end of the movie left you feeling good. The dragons were happy again, the characters we're invested in are happy, they're rebuilding their village at the same time enjoying their dragon riding game... all is good. I can totally see how there could be more movies now.

We didn't see Drago die, the last he was on his alpha and the alpha retreated into the water. Hiccup looked but there was no sign of Drago. Also, Hiccup is Chief now, he has to run Berk. He has his mother there with him now who is also more adventurous like him. I could totally see him and Astrid exchanging some sort of Viking vows in the future. Also, there as a funny character development between Ruffnut and the other boys, there could definitely be some friction there. As well, the new Eret character could also pose a threat if he were to be interested, Ruffnut especially had fallen for him pretty stalker'ishly.

Overall I think it's a fun movie for the family to venture out to see. Especially now that most schools are out for the summer. I know my boyfriend and I went on the night that was the last day of school. I was surprised that not more people were there given that it wasn't a school night. But, then again for most families it was still a work night for the parents. My favorite character is still Toothless. I've always loved dragons but he makes me love them even more.