Thanks to Tea Time Animation, I got some passes to see an early screening of How To Train Your Dragon 2! This may have been my number one anticipated movie this year and I was not disappointed. The movie was a lot of fun and perfect in time for Father's Day. Spoilers ahead! I'm personally one of those people who don't mind spoilers and sometimes even likes them as they give me something to look forward to. Instead of thinking that the movie is completely ruined, I go "hey, that's awesome, I really want to see such and such part for myself!"
There seems to be quite a few main plot points going on around this sequel. One of them that I picked out is that the movie is about Hiccup growing up and becoming an adult and learning about the responsibilities that he will have to shoulder, namely being an adult and a leader means that he must protect those he holds dear. Another is that you win friends and their loyalty through trust and respect, not fear and domination. The third one I would say is that everyone, although different and in this case dragons and humans, can live in harmony and peace.
The main selling point of this movie would be the dragons and they were magnificent. We get the ones from the first movie along with some great new ones such as Valka's Stormcutter dragon, Cloudjumper, and the alpha Bewilderbeast dragons. Loved the animation on them and how they heavily referenced real animals and really showcases well Toothless and Cloudjumper's personalities. Toothless was interesting in that it feels that his personality changed. In the first movie he was more panther and cat like as he's more wary and just getting to know Hiccup but now Toothless is more doglike and playful. Meanwhile Cloudjumper seems to be referencing cats and owls and is a lot more regal and is not having any of Toothless' shenanigans. The human characters I'm not quite as sure of. There are times where I felt they were a bit over animated with lots of gesturing and head movements while talking. What made it very interesting though is that the movie points it out itself and makes fun of it through Astrid's teasing of Hiccup on how he talks.
Since we already have an established romance aspect of Hiccup and Astrid from the first movie, this time around we have a more comedic approach to it through Snotlout and Fishlegs fighting over Ruffnut who then in turn crushes on Eret. The dynamic between the crazy four way romancing was hilarious and had the entire theater laughing, particularly the parts where Ruffnut attempts to flirt with Eret and we get closeups of Eret's bulging biceps.
There were some plot points that didn't quite make as much sense. Toothless has an entire contraption on him to make the tail work so that he could fly properly and in the first movie we see Hiccup going through a lot of experimentation and training to get it right. Hiccup even makes the claim that Toothless can't fly properly without a rider so when Drago decides to commandeer Toothless I would think that it would not work since Dragon wouldn't know how to make all the mechanisms function correctly. Nope, Drago somehow flies Toothless perfectly and gets to Berk without any issues. Drago has a dragon hiding underwater and through Fishleg we are set up to expect some amazing dragon such as a Leviathorgan. Unfortunately when the dragon is revealed, it is just another Bewilderbeast. At least since it was able to survive submerged deep underwater I would have expected it to look slightly different other than coloring and have different abilities but unfortunately no, it was just a dark version of the while Bewilderbeast with the same ice breath powers. While on the subject of the Bewilderbeasts, I wish that there would have been more to the Bewilderbeasts' battle. Instead there were just a lot of bashing up against each other as if they were two rhinos. I expected at least a couple of ice breathes to the face! Toothless getting a second set of dorsal fins was somewhat interesting but slightly weird that Toothless seems to have never known about them. They're on his body and seemingly an integral part of how he moves and flies. It would be like a person never knowing that he/she has knees and walked around back and forth without ever bending them.
Loved the texture work. The dragons' scales were especially spectacular with all the little nuances of different amounts here and there, more prominent ones in certain areas, the coloring, and spikes in all the right areas. The hair work is amazing once again and I especially liked Stoic's beard with all the different layers and striations.
I didn't know until the credits but Eret is voiced by Kit Harrington, or more popularly known as Jon Snow from Game of Thrones. If I were to watch the movie again, all that would go through my mind when Eret argues with Hiccup over dragons now would be "You know nothing Eret son of Eret".
It'll be interesting to see what DreamWorks comes up after this as I expect more sequels to come. I really hope that the series doesn't get overworked and leads to its death. It is quite unfortunately that DreamWorks has apparently decided not only to ceased to create original works but has also cut funding in their animation division with focus on putting out sequels that they can depend on to sell well. Personally I don't want to see any sequels past three and a series shouldn't have more than two spinoffs. Once its at that point then its overkill and when I see another title that comes out trying to milk that series I just roll my eyes and put it in a corner to be further considered at a later time. Here's to hope for the next few originals that DreamWorks had already planned and in development to do well to show that people do want and like new things so that more can come our way!.