‘How to Train Your Dragon 2’ keeps kids, their adult entertained

By Gary Clift

The sequel to Dreamworks’ 2010 feature “How to Train Your Dragon” begins five years after the Vikings of Berk made peace with the dragons that once plagued their town. While most of the young dragon riders compete in Berk’s dragon races, Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel) and his dragon Toothless explore the world, mapping new lands they come upon.

Hiccup’s father, Stoick (Gerard Butler), wants him to take over as chieftain of Berk, but Hiccup doesn’t see how he could ever fill his father’s role. Astrid (America Ferrera) flies out to find Hiccup and the two discover a heavily damaged fort. There they encounter Eret (Kit Harrington), a dragon trapper in the employ of Drago Bludvist.

Eret attempts to capture Astrid and Hiccup’s dragons for Drago, but they escape back to Berk. Attempting to raise the alarm, Hiccup tells his father about Drago and his dragon army. When Stoick hears about Drago, he orders the dragons of Berk to be hidden and the town locked down.

Hiccup is convinced he can talk with Drago to ensure peace. Hiccup manages to make it out of town, followed closely by Astrid. His plan is to find Eret and surrender, thinking that Eret will take him to Drago.

Before they can be taken to Drago, Stoick and the other dragon riders rescue the two. Stoick relates the story of how a council of chieftains was killed by Drago, leaving Stoick the only survivor. He is unable to convince Hiccup that Drago can’t be talked into peace. Hiccup flies off again, determined to avoid a war.

On his way to find Drago, Hiccup encounters a masked dragon rider that captures him and takes him to a secret mountain stronghold where a giant alpha dragon protects the dragons rescued from Drago’s traps. The masked dragon rider is actually Hiccups long lost mother, Valka (Cate Blanchett).

Valka doubts her dragon-slaying husband Stoick could be convinced to live in peace with the dragons. When proof arrives as Stoick arrives riding his own dragon, Valka and Stoick find that their love for each other still lives after twenty years apart.

Reunited at last, the family must face the army of Drago that has found the hidden stronghold. Feeling capable of defending themselves, what they don’t know is that Drago has a plan to control all of the dragons, making himself their undisputed master, and his army unstoppable.

“How to Train Your Dragon 2” is a somewhat darker film than its predecessor. The result is a more powerful story in some ways, but one that still retains a good measure of idealism.

The animation is nicely done. Particularly the nature scenes and the wildly colorful dragons. My only complaints were the sometimes horrible mouth movements and occasional inexpressiveness on the human characters’ faces.

A few dim spots in the animation didn’t take too much away from the film. The plot was strong and the characters had good individual personalities that made it easy to tell them apart.

“How to Train Your Dragon 2” kept the kids interested throughout, and both Leah and Patrick had positive things to say about it. There was enough action for Patrick, which is something that happens less often as he gets older. Unlike some other animated films, this one was equally entertaining for me as it was for the kids.

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