NOTE: This is a SPOILER-FREE review. Please mark "*Spoilers*" in the comments section with any comments which may spoil the overall plot.
In the past I’d look at animated movies and would always consider Pixar movies to be the ultimate brilliance that CG animated movies could offer; only Pixar could offer a certain charm that would make you smile, laugh, cheer and cry – it was an achievement that can still be seen standing today. But it’s not certainly the case. Looking at what recent studios have offered such as Disney (non-pixar) movies such as Frozen, Warner Bros offering The Lego Movie and now Dreamworks releasing an unbelievable experience for How to Train your Dragon 2.
The original film was amazing by itself, it had the charm, humour, emotion, plot and visual brilliance that made it a noteworthy film. In some ways, How to Train your Dragon 2 exceeds from its predecessor and becomes one of the few exceptions to the not-as-good-sequel curse. The main way Dreamworks achieves this is via the foreshadowed theme of “change”. The formula of modern CG animated films have changed; no more is it just a bundle of silly campy jokes for children and an ongoing upbeat plot with its emotive moments. No more is there a cheap cop-out where you believe one climatic and emotive thing has happened and then the writers use a trick to make the situation happy (which refers to the overused and countless pivoting sad moment in the film which is always overcome). How to Train your Dragon 2 is different, it’s more gritty and dark and has an ongoing depressing tone:
The film takes place 5 years after the original, Hiccup has grown, the town has changed their perspective on dragons – things are different instantly! Watching it was exciting as the change wasn’t just in the setting of the plot, but in the plot itself. Most of the events that happened aren’t to be expected, the audience is unaware of what will happen next as the film breaks the traditional animated formula. The humour matches the quality of the original film and the plot is completely engaging to watch for both children and adults. Part of what made Frozen a pop-cultural success was that it changed the formula, it wasn’t about true love with a man or a woman being rescued by a prince, but instead about a sisterly bond. In this film, there’s a focus on that things will change and times change with views and such. Without spoiling too much, there’s even a reveal of a character being homosexual in a positive manner, something which mainstream animated studios wouldn’t have dared to implement in a film developed for children. It all leads up to teaching children that life changes and we must learn to accept it.
Cinematically the film is a treat. There’s part of the opening sequence where Hiccup and Toothless flying past the clouds and seas with the soundtrack of Jónsi – Where No One Goes beautifully re-introducing us to the vivid world this film is based on. It’s baffling as to how successful the film was in merging from completely upbeat and beautiful scenes to ultimately heart-wrenching scenes. It made the film even more worth while to watch.
Hadn’t watched the first one? No problem. The film is easy enough to catchup on and is just as worthwhile to watch as the first one. I completely recommend it, which is partly the reason why I’ve chosen this film to be my first review for yBaX Start! I hadn’t even began to talk about how menacing the villain is or how tearful you’ll become when a certain surprise character arrives.
+ Fantastic plot, easy to follow yet with beautifully complex foreshadowing.
+ Fun to watch, has a perfect mix of emotions.
+ Shows a brilliant glimpse of how different future animated films can be, darker themed and more expansive storylines told.
– The final battle scene seemed slightly stretched out and a bit more forced than it needed to.