Let's begin with a confession: I loved the sincerity and witty charm of How to Train Your Dragon.
Here's this young boy, aptly name Hiccup, who is definitely a misfit as a viking. However, he is bent on proving himself and that means slaying dragons and ruling the seas. Then he meets his first dragon, and falls in love with it. He calls him Toothless and together this unlikely pair of friends changes perceptions and brings peace to the beleaguered village.
Direction: Dean DeBlois
Cast: Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, America Ferrera, Cate Blanchett
Running Time: 105 minutes
It was a sweet story and touched hearts. However, the stakes are far higher this time round. Hiccup (voiced again by Jay Baruchel) is no longer a boy and his father Stoic (Gerard Butler) wants him to become the next chief.
, Hiccup is beset with self doubt. He sets the tone when he tells his love interest Astrid (America Ferrera), "I know I'm not my father, and I never met my mother, so what does that make me?"
However, this doesn't stop him from charting new territory, taking risks and standing up for what he considers is right. The village and dragons are being threatened by a very bad guy Drago Bludvist (voiced by Djimon Hounsou) and peacenik that Hiccup is he thinks a round-table conference can settle everything.
This is the first time that Hiccup (and the franchise) has seen bad guys who are human and he loses and learns a lot by the time this battle is over. So, as audience, what you need to watch out for? Here's the list…
The film begins with dragon races and just gets better from there. As Toothless and Hiccup take flight; so does the excellent VFX of this film. We get to see all kinds of dragons - large and fearsome, small and mischievous, those who breath ice and other who breath fire. Even the smallest detail has been taken care of and the film does not has the cartoonish feel of the prequel.
When this mass of dragons is not taking flight, they are part of action pieces. There is a lot of potential for VFX in this film and director Dean DeBlois uses it to his advantage. A visual spectacle in 3D awaits you.
Watch: Gerard Butler "blown away" at premiere of How To Train Your Dragon 2
There is the main plot and then there are the sub-plots but DeBlois manages to weave them together in a cohesive film which drips with telling human encounters. One such mention-worthy incident is Hiccup's discovery of his mother Valka or Dragon Rider (Cate Blanchett). She is a metaphor for Lady Liberty and has been freeing dragons for 20 years. Their bonding takes wings as they show each other their aerial stunts.
Another poignant moment is when strong-and-silent Stoic woos his wife with a love ballad.
It's for grown-ups too
Unlike the usual kiddie fare, the underlying theme of this film is dark. It is not just any other animation film and brings up issues which need to be dealt with. It is a metaphor for how humans deal with ecology and also questions if peace is an option in the real world.
The darkness is balanced well with humour in the film and even in the climactic sequence, you will find something to smile over. In fact, that's what you will find yourself doing when credits roll.