how_to_train_your_dragon_two_ver11Note: This is a tag team review between a 41 year old and his 10 year old daughter.

Sofia Nunziata:

Story: On the island of Berk dragons used to be a bit of a problem, but because of Hiccup, they have all moved in. Now Berk has dragon races, dragon houses, and more! Stoick, Hiccup’s dad, is ready for Hiccup to take over Berk, but all Hiccup wants to do is discover new places, and teach his dragon, Toothless, new tricks. He soon happens upon a ship full of dragon trappers that want to make a dragon army. Hiccup barely escapes. The trappers say that a dragon master stole their dragons. Hiccup soon finds out that the dragon master is his long lost mother. Hiccup and his mother, Valka both love dragons, so they try to rescue the dragons that the dragon trapper Drago captured.

Hiccup proves that rulers can lead their people with kindness instead of going to war. He also proves to himself that he is as good a warrior as his father.

Characters: Hiccup, Valka, Stoick, Gobber, Astrid, Snotlout, Fishlegs, The Alpha, The Bewilderbeast, Ruffnut, Tuffnut, Drago, Eret, Hoark, Starkard and, of course, Toothless.

Favorite scenes: One of my favorite scenes was when Hiccup found his mother, and she showed Hiccup secrets about his dragon, and showed him new dragons. Another good scene is when Toothless fights the Alpha to protect Hiccup.

Rating: I would rate this a 9 out of 10, because it was a great sequel to How To Train Your Dragon, however there were a few unexpected surprises.

Nick Nunziata: The first How to Train Your Dragon was sensational. Great character designs, excellent voice work, and really inventive and kinetic visuals made for a family film that actually entertained the family. The Dreamworks Animation machine really hit full stride, so a sequel was not only inevitable but actually warranted. The dynamic of Hiccup and Toothless was actually engaging, with the latter being one of the best “monster” characters ever to rise out of the animated feature genre. The new film is an extremely formula sequel in almost every sense of the word. Characters gets upgraded, what worked the first time around is revisited and enhanced, and major twists arise in the crazy ever-changing world of the young Viking protagonist. Where the first film was geared towards establishing the world part two very much explodes it into something much larger. Knowing their audience is rabid for more dragons the doors are blown off and dozens upon dozens of new creatures make an appearance. As a whole the designs are astounding and the way the virtual camera covers the action brings major wattage to the action scenes. The flying and combat and presentation rivals any tentpole live action film and there’s a confidence and energy that keeps the chain moving forward.

It’s the visual treatment that saves a movie that feels very familiar with its character arcs and big reveals. For children, even ones paying attention, it’s a seamless experience. For adults and savvy film fans there are moments where it’s hard not to wish for a little more nuance. It doesn’t have the same freshness as the original but it doesn’t have to feel as on rails. Luckily Toothless is a phenomenal character, one with a true life in its eyes and one where the animation is so rich and filled with subtleties that make it as real as an animated creature can be. It really is a special creation. Though Jay Baruchel’s an odd choice for a Viking tough guy he pulls it off and the character is evolving into a capable leading man. It just works.

There’s a lot to like here. Fully recommended for a guilt free family day at the movies. Pixar, watch your rearview.

Rating:
★★★½☆

Out of a Possible 5 Stars