Animated movie sequels tend to get a bad rep. By the time you get to Cinderella 37, the movies have lost all meaning. The quality is not the same, the plot has faded into nothing, all the actors have changed, and even the original movie—which you loved—feels tainted. The same can be true of books sometimes. Not in the case of Harry Potter or the Queen’s Thief series, where the respective authors J.K. Rowling and Megan Whalen Turner took the time to make each sequential book as good as the first. But in the case of the third Hunger Games books, the quality suffered terribly because of the author’s rush to publish. So sometimes it can be nerve-racking to hear that one of your favorite movies is getting a sequel. After all, it could turn out to be terrible. But in the case of Dreamworks’ incredible movie How To Train Your Dragon, this is far from true.
I don’t think there was anyone who did not love How To Train Your Dragon. The animation was stellar, the plot was solid, the characters were well-developed. Overall, the creative team put out an almost spotless movie. And after the success of HTTYD, it would not have been surprising if Dreamworks had rushed to put out a sequel, but creative integrity won out over money, and the team behind HTTYD took the time to produce a second, just as wonderful movie as the first one.
How To Train Your Dragon 2 takes place about five years after the first movie. Hiccup (Jay Baruchel), Astrid (America Ferrera), and their friends are no longer kids struggling to prove themselves as Vikings, but rather young adults coming into their own, Hiccup especially. Dragons are no longer threats, but rather family. And, of course, Toothless is still the most adorable dragon ever, with more personality than most human characters in film and books. Life is good in Berk, but soon that life—and the peace the Vikings have found with the dragons—is in danger.
While exploring, Hiccup comes across a dragon trapper (Game of Thrones’ Kit Harrington) and learns about Drago Bloodfist, a violent and cruel Viking who is building a dragon army. Hiccup’s father Stoick (Gerard Butler) thinks the best way to deal with this threat is to defend Berk from the coming invasion, but Hiccup is determined to meet with Drago and change his mind before war erupts. So he leaves, and on his way finds help from an unexpected source.
How To Train Your Dragon 2 possesses much of the same appeal as the first movie. Toothless is adorable. Hiccup is quirky and well-meaning, and their bond is central to the story. Hiccup’s friends, Astrid, Snoutlout, Fishlegs, Tuffnut, and Ruffnut are all entertaining, and the adults in the story, Stoick, Gobber (Craig Ferguson), and Valka (Cate Blanchett) provide good balance to the story. The themes of this movie are as strong as the first, and, of course, there are plenty of dragons.
This is one of the best sequels I have ever seen, both animated and live action. The plot is as good as the first movie and still packs an emotional punch. The characters are as lovable, even though they are growing up. The script is deep, but funny when it needs to be. The animation is incredible and the music is perfect for each frame. It may not be as novel as the first movie, but no sequel can ever be that. But How To Train Your Dragon 2 is just as good as the first one. Viewers will not be disappointed. Rather, we will settle down and wait (im)patiently for HTTYD 3.