I’ll admit that I only somewhat liked How To Train Your Dragon (the original) when it first came out in 2010, but the more I watch it, the more it grows on me. I always felt that Hollywood needs a good “dragon” movie, something quintessential. I mean, when you think space opera, you think Star Wars. When you think fantasy, you think Lord of the Rings. When you think dragons, you have choices of Dragonheart, Dragonslayer, but nothing that really stands out, and this includes the last two Hobbit movies.
Dragons are an essential part of fantasy fiction, and I am not certain why they are so prevalent there. How to Train Your Dragon is based on a book series that I haven’t read, but the first movie was an excellent offering. The plot is about a boy who discovers a dragon, in a world of Vikings, who despise dragons’ destructive behavior. The boy, Hiccup, befriends a dragon that he names Toothless, and his friendship leads to saving his village.
The first film reminds me of a nineties Disney animation, where an unconventional and forbidden relationship changes society. The film also had flying scenes that were better than the last Man of Steel Superman movie.
The world of How To Train Your Dragon is pretty well developed, as there are all kinds of different types of dragons. The characters are also extremely good, and Hiccup, voiced by Jay Baruchel, feels very real. The sequel grows the characters up noticeably, and it is much, much bigger like the second Hunger Games movie Catching Fire.
The premise of How To Train Your Dragon 2 is that Hiccup is old enough to become chief. In spite of the fact that Stoick, Hiccup’s father, is pretty healthy, he seems to want Hiccup to be ready to step up to the plate. Hiccup seems to like nothing more than flying around with Toothless, and one day, he discovers a group of dragon hunters that work for a ruthless tyrant named Drago.
When Hiccup tells his father about Drago, Stoick gets very afraid and braces his village for attack. Apparently, Drago met with the village chiefs years ago, and offered to rid the village of all the pesky dragons, provided Drago can rule. Of course, the village chiefs refused, and then Drago commands dragons to destroy the village. Only Stoick survived, which means that Drago had destroyed the village completely. Apparently, Stoick managed to rebuild the village, and…yeah, there are a few things wrong with this.
The story with Drago feels like a retcon, which is a word for when a storyline tells an origin story with elements that haven’t been mentioned before, but will take the present story to a knew level. If you read comics, retcons are very common to clean up bad plotlines and heighten the drama of the stories.
Another retcon that takes place is the introduction of Hiccups’ mother Valka. This isn’t really a spoiler, because the preview revealed this. It is revealed that Valka was stolen from the village by dragons when Hiccup was a baby. Valka never returned because she saw that the dragons were friendly creatures, and lived on this island all alone with several dragons.
In fact, one of these dragons was kind to baby Hiccup, even though it accidentally scratched him on the chin. This is how Valka recognized Hiccup as her adult son because of the scar. By the way, the scar is apparently in the first How To Train Your Dragon, so I am told.
Valka is proud of Hiccup because he has befriended a dragon, but no where in the original did Stoick ever mention that a dragon killed Hiccup’s mother. At least, this is what Stoick thought, and it would explain why Stoick was so against dragons in the first one. Like I said, this was a retcon, but at least the scar is consistent.
As Hiccup bonds with his reunited mother, the other dragon riders meet up with Drago. Drago apparently has some new way of controlling the dragons that is similar to how Hiccup trained them, but with fear and not love. Drago even takes control of an Alpha, huge dragon that can control other dragons. I think there was one of these in the last film, but in this one, it can hypnotize dragons.
When Drago meets up with the other characters, the film seems to have way too much going on. Don’t get me wrong, it is an awesome epic, but it is very, very confusing. There are times where scenes play out between characters while there are probably other scenes going on with other characters that we don’t see.
Act 2 also ends with a tragedy that is very emotional, and is as effective as the killing of King Mufasa in The Lion King. The problem is that after that, the epic conclusion doesn’t measure up to the Act 2 battle. I actually thought that after Act 2, the movie would end, and the story would concluded in How To Train Your Dragon 3, which I heard that they are making.
On the whole, How To Train Your Dragon 2 is very inspired, and it makes me want to write fantasy stories of my own. By the way, I might be working on one, but I can’t say anything about it now. For that, I saw it twice, and would recommend it to anyone who is looking for the ultimate dragon movie, because the How To Train Your Dragon series is the best in film so far.