Unexpected liaisons, such as those between humans and dragons, lead to fascinating outcomes. In the sequel to How To Train Your Dragon, DreamWorks Animation and 20th Century Fox, in collaboration with writer/director Dean Deblois (famous for Lilo and Stitch), have done a commendable job illustrating the alliance between humans and dragons that will change both their futures forever.
Set in the fantasy village of Berk, the movie fast forwards to five years after the Vikings and the dragons have mutually agreed to live in peace, and instead of poaching, which was the highlight of the first film, now challenge each other in a newfound sport — dragon races. “Dragons used to be a problem… now, they’ve moved in,” Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel), now a mature-looking 20-year-old, narrates to the audience. His strong belief in cooperation, coupled with the power to befriend these furious beasts, sets into motion the next chapter of this dragon adventure. With Night Fury, nicknamed Toothless, by his side once again, he is ready to conquer new terrain and stand up for what he firmly believes in.
It is during one of these adventures that the pair stumbles upon a secret ice cave teeming with dragons and meet their main adversary — Drago (voiced by Djimon Hounsou), the mysterious Dragon Rider. And here begins the battle to once again regain peace in the village.
In the midst of the fire-breathing fury, however, the movie nurtures strong relationships. The touching parent-child relationship emerges when Hiccup meets his presumably dead mother, Valka (voiced by Cate Blanchett). She has been living on the island that houses Drago’s dragon army and plays her part in protecting and freeing the beasts from Drago’s captivity — explaining the source of Hiccup’s love for dragons. While the movie elaborates on their bond, it suffers a little by shifting focus from the friendship between Hiccup and Toothless, which was primarily the reason behind the success of the first movie. Alongside Valka, Astrid (voiced by America Ferrera), reprises her role in the movie, this time as Hiccup’s girlfriend whose character helps lighten the mood with witty one-liners and timely puns.
While the new characters and multiple subplots add a fresh dimension to the storyline, the movie seems too distracted at times. Meanwhile, Hiccup is also under increasing pressure from his father to assume his role as the new chieftain of the village, expanding his role of responsibilities even further. It is only when the main plot unfolds that the movie reverts to its original theme of loyalty and friendship between dragons and humans. And in the midst of the nail-biting action sequel, we see a glimmer of what made this movie truly special in the first place.
Like most children’s fantasy films, the movie is complete with a moral note. Deblois, without coming across as preachy, forwards the message of acceptance and preservation, making it worth a watch. Overall, How To Train Your Dragon 2 ends up being a satisfactory watch with a few surprise elements that will cater to the likes of even mature audiences.