We were able to see an advance screening of How to Train Your Dragon 2, which doesn’t come out in theaters until June 13! The film is directed by Dean DeBlois, and stars the voice talents of Jay Baruchel, America Ferrera, Gerard Butler, and many more. Find out what Josh and Violet thought about the film in their male vs. female perspective reviews. Don’t worry, we keep it spoiler-free!
His Movie Review of How to Train Your Dragon 2:
So Violet and I were able to see an early screening at the Hero Complex Film Festival of How to Train Your Dragon 2, an event put on by the Los Angeles Times, celebrating all things super-hero-y. It was held at the Chinese Theater in Hollywood, and turned out to be a lot of fun. How to Train Your Dragon 2 was directed by Dean DeBlois, who also co-wrote the story, and also directed and co-wrote the first movie. Jay Baruchel returns as the voice of Hiccup, a sort of outsider in his village of Berk, where during the events of the first movie, he is able to bring dragons and humans together in Berk. Most of the other cast members have returned as well, including Jonah Hill, Gerard Butler, America Ferrera, and there are a couple newcomers as well, such as Kit Harington and Cate Blanchett.
So, the story picks up 5 years later, and dragons and humans live peacefully together in Berk. Hiccup is in line to take the place of chief of their village, which he isn’t too excited about. Hiccup seems a little more interested in exploring the world. He and Toothless seem to be closer than ever, and Hiccup has been busy with his inventions, designing winged suits, and tools to tame new dragons he may meet. But on one of his scouting missions, he runs into Eret, Son of Eret, and learns of some dragon hunters that could be a danger to Berk and their dragons. Tensions begin to rise between Stoick and Hiccup as they both decide how to handle the situation.
So does this seek do the original movie justice? The first How to Train Your Dragon was very good, and hopefully with almost everyone returning to make this film, it would be a success as well. I have to say, that it did certainly live up to the first one, and perhaps surpass it.
There is a lot to enjoy with this film, whether a child or an adult. The film seems to be written and directed to appeal to both audiences at the same time in the dramatic scenes. There are a number of scenes in the film where characters may be having a fairly serious conversation that may bore younger audiences. Fear not though, as there is likely some dragon shenanigans going on in the foreground or background of the scene to entertain both children and adults.
Speaking of emotional scenes though, there is a lot going on emotionally in this film. The themes of responsibility and leadership echo through Hiccup’s journey to adulthood. There are a lot of great sentimental moments to see as well, particularly when it comes to family. There is even some tragedy, which while sad, really drives the movie in a specific scene in the film. How to Train Your Dragon 2 feels very relatable despite it being an animated film. An animated film set in a Viking setting at that.
Visually, the movie is stunning. It was filmed in 3D, and this definitely makes a huge difference when you watch this in 3D versus something that was simply converted to 3D after the fact. All of the dragon flying scenes are very immersive, giving the film that little bit of extra fun to it.
I have to say the worst part of the film was how easy it is to recognize the voice actors when listening to characters talk. For me it is pretty distracting listening to Jonah Hill or Gerard Butler speak as their characters in the film, as I can’t help but think, “Hey, that’s Gerard Butler” fifteen times during the movie. This isn’t necessarily the film’s fault, but I think it might have been more enjoyable for me if the voice actors were lesser known, which would let me stay “in the movie” better.
One minor suggestion I would have made for the film, was to possible make it shorter. Since a third movie is being made, I was sort of waiting for the “cliffhanger” moment during the movie. There was an extremely emotional scene towards the end of the film that really stuck with me until the end of the film, and I thought it might end there. I really was swelling on that moment until the end of the film, and really had a hard time getting back to the “happy, fun-ness” after that scene. If the film ended there and picked up there in the third movie, I think it might have been a good way to keep that emotional scene powerful.
Overall, I think this is certainly highly rated for me so far for the summer movies this year. I think I am going to give it an 8.5 out 10. I was more emotionally invested in this movie than any other in a while. Typically, I do not enjoy animated movies, so I was especially surprised to see how much I enjoyed this film. I certainly recommend seeing this film no matter what age you are.
Her Movie Review of How to Train Your Dragon 2:
We were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to attend the Los Angeles Times Hero Complex Film Festival and see an advance screening of How to Train Your Dragon 2 – two weeks before its release date! In this computer animated sequel, directed by Dean DeBlois, we get the return of the voice talents of Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, America Ferrera, Jonah Hill, Kristen Wiig, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, T.J. Miller, and Craig Ferguson, but also welcome a few new voices: Kit Harington, Cate Blanchett, and Djimon Hounsou.
Just to quickly recap the original 2010 film, Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) is a teenager who lives on the island of Berk in a Viking village, which is plagued by dragons stealing their livestock. The only way for Hiccup to prove himself to his father, the chief (Gerard Butler), is to kill a dragon. Instead, Hiccup ends up befriending a dragon, naming it Toothless, who winds up saving Hiccup’s life. In the end, the villagers and the dragons live together in perfect harmony.
In How to Train Your Dragon 2, we pick up five years after the events of the previous movie. The villagers’ favorite pastime is the sport of dragon riding, but Hiccup is more interested in flying around with Toothless and mapping the world. One day while out flying around, he and Astrid run into some dragon trappers that work for a madman named Drago Bludvist (Djimon Hounsou), who is up to no good building a dragon army. When Hiccup’s father hears the name Drago Bludvist, he recalls a near fatal run in he had with the man many years ago, and warns Hiccup to stay away, but Hiccup tries to play peacekeeper anyway.
Hiccup and Toothless come across a mysterious dragon rider, and we learn what became of Hiccup’s mother all those years ago. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to Hiccup, his peacekeeping attempts have only led to more trouble. Hiccup soon finds himself forced to grow up, accept responsibilities, and discover who he truly is much faster than he might have expected, all the while with his best friend, Toothless, by his side.
I loved this movie just as much, if not more, than the first one. It’s such a great coming of age story for Hiccup. In the first film, he wonders why he’s so much different from his father, and in this film, he gets an answer. It’s a great movie for people of all ages, and especially for families, because it reminds us just how important the bond with family is, even though we might forget sometimes. This film runs the whole gamut of emotions. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. As the kids say these days, this movie will hit you right in the feels.
That’s not to say that the whole thing is gooey and sentimental. On the contrary, humor is definitely prevalent in the film, just as it was in the first one. How to Train Your Dragon 2 plays a good balancing act where if a scene starts to get too serious, there’s usually something funny or lighthearted thrown in as comic relief, or is simultaneously going on in the background, when the scene allows for it. If you loved Toothless in the first film, you’ll love him even more in this one. There’s a battle scene involving Toothless that is pretty epic.
As for the CGI, it is of course amazingly beautiful, just as the first one was. Fortunately, we did get to see it in 3D, and I would recommend seeing it that way, since the film was natively rendered 3D, rather than post-converted 3D.
It was awesome to hear the familiar voices of all of the returning actors, and to hear the voices of the new cast members, who all brought the characters to life very well.
Going into this movie, I was fairly excited, as the first one had surprised me at how good it was, but I didn’t want to be overly excited, because I wasn’t sure if it would be able to recreate the magic of the first. Well, rest assured, it did. This movie made me want to go back and re-watch the first one, watch the TV series, and read the books. I’m more excited than ever about this film franchise, and I can’t wait until the third installment of the trilogy, which is due in theaters June 17, 2016.
Yes, there are a few minor flaws in the storyline, and a couple of little things that bothered me, but I’m willing to overlook them because the rest of the film is just that awesome. Overall, this is a great film that is both heart wrenching and heartwarming, as well as awe inspiring and relatable. I don’t want to over hype it for you, but prepare to be amazed.
My rating: 9/10