The Training of a Dragon Continues

How to Train Your Dragon 2 Movie Poster

How to Train Your Dragon 2 is a perfect example of how to do a sequel. It takes the core and soul of the first film and multiplies it respectfully. However, it is not necessarily without its flaws.

(SPOILERS)

The film is set five years after the first film and our main group of kiddos are now 20 years old. Hiccup and Toothless ride off on their own in pursuit of mapping the world outside of Berk, everyone in Berk has welcomed the dragons into their homes and now race them like flying horses. Astrid and Hiccup are a hot item, insinuated engagement, and Hiccup’s father has already approached him about being the new chief, of which he’s all too reluctant about.

In investigating a wildfire, Hiccup and Astrid find a giant green glacier in the middle of the ocean and are shot down by dragon hunters serving under what will become the film’s villain, Drago. After some clever escape, Hiccup returns to Berk to tell his father about someone named Drago is capturing and raising a dragon army. Stoick then gives us a flashback of Drago once approaching his tribe trying to convince him the dangers of the dragons and that they should be enslaved to have an army. Stoick dismissed him for being a mad man and now fear for the successful army he has created. Hiccup volunteers to go to Drago to convince him as he did Stoick that dragons are good. Stoick orders him not to,  but in Hiccup fashion, goes anyway.

Hiccup voluntarily gets captured by the dragon hunters so he can be taken to Drago and is then saved by a mysterious dragon rider. The rider takes him inside the giant green glacier, which turns out to be the home for hundreds of dragons. The rider then reveals herself to be Hiccup’s long lost mother, Valka. Valka shares the same chivalrous heart as Hiccup and has learned to befriend and protect the dragons all the while studying all the various species and assisting in their growth. Eventually Stoick finds his way to the dragon sanctuary in search of his son and finds his dear wife as well and they share a sweet reunion.

Drago locates the sanctuary and lays siege to it with a Bewilderbeast dragon to challenge the other Bewilderbeast within the sanctuary that is the current alpha of the dragons. It doesn’t take long for the evil alpha to overcome the good one and the white alpha falls. With the good alpha gone, Drago uses the new alpha to control all the dragons including Toothless. Hiccup tries to reason with Drago, but Drago sicks Toothless on him. Toothless rears back to fire on of his Night Fury beams and Stoick takes the blast, killing him instantly.

After a beautiful ship burial, Hiccup and his mother and friends return to Berk on disobedient baby dragons to do what they can to defend the tribe against the dragons that have now turned against them. Again Hiccup confronts Drago to persuade him to let the dragons free. Eventually he’s able to get through to Toothless so he’s no longer under the alphas control until the alpha encases them both in ice. As always, such a villains victory would be short-lived and the ice glows and Toothless shoots a plasma beam from his mouth to break the ice and starts attacking the alpha ala Avatar State style. Beam after beam, the alpha can’t focus enough to keep control of the dragons and eventually flees, leaving Toothless as the new alpha of the dragons.

 

Let’s get into my issues before I recover it all with the good.

-My biggest problem with this film was the villain. Honestly, the first one’s villain being the queen dragon (another issue I will get to) was a little weak too, but this guy? His deal just didn’t make a lot of sense. Sure, raising an army of dragons sound cool, but how does he control them? With SHOUTING! Okay, probably with intimidation and beatings that we don’t see. But what I don’t get is, weren’t Stoick and the other Berkian’s rather cruel to the dragons to capture them for their training of the young vikings… so wouldn’t those dragons technically be submissive at that point? And if this guy was so cray-cray with his ideas and was becoming a threat back then… why was nobody taking action or being afraid then? I realize this was possibly due to not knowing if there would be a sequel,  but what? And why does he need a dragon army? To fight against what? Just so he feels powerful?

-The Dragon queen from the first movie. So, would the two Bewilderbeasts alphas have had to have been under her? Or are males the alphas and just rose after she was defeated in the first film? That didn’t seem very consistent to me.

-Hiccup’s mother. This is a minor thing in the grand scheme of things, really, but in the first film Hiccup receives what he thinks is his mother’s helmet, but Stoick corrects her and says it was part of her breastplate. Hmm. Well, she clearly wasn’t a large woman in the film, nor was she in flashbacks… so, that really bothered me. But humor, I guess?

 

The things above bother me when I think about them. Then I think about the source material being for middle grade and those types of books aren’t particularly plottily complicated. That’s not to say middle grade literature cannot be smart, because HTTYD is very smart for what it does and accomplishes, and really the villain/antagonists aren’t the most important thing in the story. Sure it creates a conflict and rise to the third act of the films, but it has always been about a boy and his dragon. A boy and his want to belong in a world where there is love and peace and understanding of every person and peace. A boy and his want to be accepted in his father’s eyes.

There’s something beautifully simplistic about that. And this is why I can’t criticize this film that much and why I back up that 90%+ on Rotten Tomatoes. HTTYD2 carried on a lot of heart and integrity from the original. Touched your heart and then promptly ripped it out and stomped on it. With a beautiful accompanying score and some of the most gorgeous visuals to date, it’s sure to please fans of the original.

Easily will be in my top five favorite films of 2014.

I dare you to see this movie and not cry.

 

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