Review: HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2 (2014) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Review: HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2 (2014)

While the ambitious plot is uneven, this epic sequel to 2010's HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON offers enough crowd-pleasing moments for the masses.


It's been four years since the first HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON made a successful impact at the box office in 2010. And now, the long-awaited sequel is finally here. As expected, it was spectacular but the overall result isn't quite as successful as I hoped for.
  
WHAT IS IT ALL ABOUT?

Set five years after the events of the original movie, humans and dragons are now living peacefully together in the Viking village of Berk. Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel) has already grown up and his father Stoick (Gerard Butler) is ready to hand over the chief's position to him. But Hiccup prefers to spend more time exploring new lands with his pet dragon Toothless. During his subsequent journey, he encounters a dragon trapper named Eret (Kit Harrington) and learns about Drago Bludvist (Djimon Hounsou), a mysterious dragon master who's been assembling an army of dragons for sinister reason. Hiccup also discovers a secret ice cave that housed a number of new dragons and surprised to meet his long-lost mother Valka (Cate Blanchett), who's been living there for decades.
  
THE GOOD STUFF
 
Like the first movie, writer-director Dean DeBlois (who goes solo this time, with previous co-director Chris Sanders now reduced as an executive producer role) has a knack for delivering highly-energetic animation. From the opening sequence alone, DeBlois already put us in the middle of the action as we witness Hiccup's playful classmates -- Ruffnut (Kristen Wiig), Snotlout (Jonah Hill), Fishlegs (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) and Tuffnutt (T.J. Miller) -- engages in a Quidditch-like dragon-racing sport at which they have to score points using sheep. And again, thanks to cinematographer Roger Deakins who served as the visual consultant here, the impeccable computer-generated animation is a sight to behold while all the sweeping action sequences are bigger and more exciting.

Plot-wise, Dean DeBlois' script has more potential than the formulaic approach of the first movie. Here, DeBlois is bold enough to go THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK-like dark route during the third act. To me, it's a welcome change of pace that makes the story more interesting.

Jay Baruchel, who reprised his role as Hiccup, is excellent as usual and likewise, it's always fun to see him spending time together with his pet dragon Toothless. America Ferrera is equally subtle as Hiccup's girlfriend Astrid, particularly early in the movie where she shares wonderful moments with him. Gerard Butler has his pivotal moments as the burly Stoick, while Kristen Wiig shines in her hilarious role as Ruffnut. Her genuine comic moments is best seen when she falls in love with Eret and starts flirting with him. As for newcomers to the franchise, Djimon Hounsou is adequate enough as the ruthless Drago Bludvist while Cate Blanchett excels the most with her heartfelt performance as Valka. Her best moment came when she finally reunites with her husband Stoick.

MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT(S)
 
The epic, action-packed finale where Hiccup and Toothless squares off against Drago's Bewilderbeast.

THE BAD STUFF
  
While I appreciate the fast-paced rhythm of this sequel, there are times where I wish DeBlois could have invest more time developing some of the movie's key moments. For instance, the climactic third act where Hiccup has to deal with the certain death of a character, struggles to build a strong emotional impact because the way DeBlois chooses to hold back the scene with too many restraints.

FINAL WORDS

Although the sequel doesn't really lives up to its high expectation, it remains appealing enough as a worthwhile summer-movie entertainment for both kids and adults. Here's hoping that DeBlois can improves further when HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 3 arrives in 2016.

* This review is written courtesy from 20th Century Fox Malaysia press screening *


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