<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Dean DeBlois. Starring Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, America Ferrera, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Craig Ferguson, Kristen Wiig, TJ Miller, Kit Harington, Cate Blanchett, Djimon Hounsou
If you love animals and pets then you’re bound to like How To Train Your Dragon 2. It’s a bit more dark and grown up than the first one but perhaps not as ground breaking.
Dreamworks Animation as successful as competitor Pixar and How To Train Your Dragon finally got them some mileage with the kids. Four years later they’re flying high with a sequel that’s certainly a crowd pleaser but doesn’t quite have the innovative spark of the first one nor the ‘training’ aspect.
Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) is 20 now but still sounds like he’s 12. He and his gang play games on their dragons with hapless sheep being used as game tokens. Chief Stoick (Gerard Butler) of the Isle of Berk doesn’t have any concerns except for his wish that Hiccup take over the running of their Viking kingdom. But Hiccup is too busy flying off on his trusty Night Fury Toothless with sidekick Astrid (America Ferrera) exploring the world and stumbling across bumbling dragon trappers.
It would seem that Drago Bloodvist (Djimon Hounsou), an evil man with delusions of grandeur fancies himself a dragon master and is enslaving all the dragons to do his dastardly deeds. Hiccup naively thinks he can reason with Drago but soon learns the realities of life. And in the bargain he finds something he lost when he was a wee lad.
Since it’s a bit more grown up, How To Train Your Dragon 2 is a bit darker. There are some minor romance angles but at the core, the film is about parental relationships more than anything else: between people and people and dragons.
The filmmakers are clearly animal lovers (but more dogs and cats, since the dragons eat fish and play with sheep; PETA would not approve) and the dragons resemble loyal dogs and agile cats. Toothless licking Hiccup and another dragon playing fetch are clear indications that the dragons are like dogs. This makes them more relatable and loveable. Of course, I’m a dog lover so perhaps there’s a bias there.
There’s lots of humour in the film as well and one or two nice-looking scenes courtesy visual consultant Roger Deakins (award-winning cinematographer). I particularly liked the attention to detail and almost miniature toy look and feel of the characters. It’s like a tiny play land has come alive and you can see the plastic toys move and act.
Audiences are sure to love the animation and the whole David v/s Goliath theme of the conflict but that message of ‘true love’ between family – one that is echoed in films like Frozen and Maleficent – over romantic love is the real message apart from one that tells us to love and respect animals.