After the overwhelming success of the first How to Train Your Dragon, it’s sequel had a lot to live up to. Thankfully it does. The charming nature of the first film is also present in the second.
Berk and it’s surrounding landscape is gorgeous. From the detail in every character’s feature to the icy landscapes that Hiccup discovers, How to Train Your Dragon 2 is a visual delight. It is at its most delightful as Toothless soars from a warm orange orchard into a contrasting cold white forest. The scene is shot as beautifully as any you’ll see in an animated feature.
The film is better than the vast majority of similar animated flicks in its excellent cast of voice actors. How to Train Your Dragon 2 has a voice cast that fits with its characters. Jay Baruchel still has the voice of a twelve year old boy and it amuses, whilst Gerard Butler’s Scottish growl often brought a smile to my face. Cate Blanchett, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Kit Harrington and (the hilarious) Kristen Wiig also feature, creating a cast chosen for their unique voice talents. This is a striking contrast to recently-released kids animation Escape From Planet Earth whose cast looks like an assortment of Hollywood has-beens.
However, the film is weakest in terms of its story. An endearing family plot plays out alongside a poor action story. The film’s action and how it plays out is less than special, leaving me slightly underwhelmed. The villain is bad, unoriginal and slightly out-of-taste, and has little development. Thankfully, the emotion of the film is a big redeeming feature.
Overall, How to Train Your Dragon 2 is a really good sequel. It is fun, colourful and is set in a wonderful world. Stuck by the sequel syndrome, it’s story is a let down, but it has more than enough for me to forgive it that. This second helping of dragons gets a ★ ★ ★