Friday 11 July 2014

Review: How To Train Your Dragon 2

World of Blackout Film Review

How To Train Your Dragon 2 (3D) Poster

How To Train Your Dragon 2
Cert: PG / 102 mins / Dir. Dean DeBlois
WoB Rating: 5/7

Writer and director, Dean DeBlois has gone to a lot of trouble to craft this sequel as closely to its 2010 predecessor as he can; to the point where every scene centered between young Hiccup and his dragon, Toothless, feels like one of the best things you've ever seen, and all the others are surprisingly mediocre by comparison. That's not to say that HtTYD2 isn't a good film, but you get the feeling it could be even better with more attention paid to the other characters.

The only reservations I have about this second installment are the same as before; the character design of the humans isn't anywhere near as inspired (or inspiring) as that of the dragons, Jay Baruchel isn't particularly great casting as the central hero as his voice, while capable, just doesn't match that character design, and Gerard Butler somehow manages to make his own Scottish accent sound contrived and unconvincing. Oh, and this time Cate Blanchett demonstrates that she can't hold a Scottish accent either, even if her character has been living alone for 20 years.

But don't let my linguistical nit-picking spoil what is, for the most part, an astoundingly beautiful-looking and emotionally charged film. The father/son bonding from How To Train Your Dragon is replaced with a mother/son relationship (it's in the trailer, that's not a spoiler), and while in many films the reversal of themes could seem tacky or forced, it works very well here (even with the wandering accent of Cate). But if it's a boy and his dragon you've come for, you won't be disappointed. The bond between the two is built upon magnificently, and I think it's fair to say that Toothless represents some of the most expressive animation I've ever seen. It's just too bad they couldn't extend that to the humans. The 3D's fairly effective, but isn't a deal-breaker by any means.

As animated sequels go, How To Train Your Dragon 2 is a firm-footed winner, although the linear plot might frustrate older members of the audience. Every bit as funny and charming as the original, it may not be an all-time classic, but will probably be one of the year's highlights.

Best avoided if you'll get annoyed by people with Scottish and American accents living on the same isolated, small island, somehow.

Is the trailer representative of the film?
Oh, yeah.

Did I laugh, cry, gasp and sigh when I was supposed to?
Pretty much.

Does it achieve what it sets out to do?
I imagine it does.

Pay at the cinema, Rent on DVD or just wait for it to be on the telly?
Cinema if your little ones want to go, otherwise it'll be just as good on DVD/BRD.

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?

Will I watch it again?
Only before the third film comes out, I suspect.

Is there a Wilhelm Scream?
Didn't hear one.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

And my question for YOU is…
During the opening dragon-race, is Tuffnut's facepaint a visual nod to the Clone Wars' Savage Opress?

How To Train Your Dragon 2: Tuffnut vs Savage Opress

No? Just me? Oh, okay then.

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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