Thursday, 13 November 2014

How to Train Your Dragon 2 (2014)

Straight away I'm gonna say that I like this franchise, the whole idea surrounding Nordic fables of Vikings set within a fantasy realm with a vast array of dragons is really intriguing and exciting. This franchise is adapted from a large set of children's books which I've never heard of (until now) but admittedly they look really good...for kids.

So after the first adventure of the Viking tribes befriending the dragons we are now presented with this idyllic world where  the villagers of Berk live in harmony with the dragons. Many of the elder Vikings have adopted dragons as pets and ride them as their personal steeds as have the younger characters, of course Hiccup is best friends with Toothless the rare dragon. The main problem with the plot would be there isn't really anywhere to go with this that hasn't been seen and done a billion times over. Unfortunately low and behold that's exactly what happens, its basically about the villagers of Berk fighting against an evil pirate dragon trapper character and his huge evil dragon.

This evil character really seems to have stepped out of the Disney Pirates of the Caribbean franchise seeing as he's basically a cliched rastafarian pirate with a prosthetic arm (not quite a hook but its the next best thing). Now admittedly this guy is a bit of a merciless jerk and with that he does add some gravitas to the proceedings plus he looks well ard'. His gigantic pet uber dragon is the equivalent of the Rancor on steroids with some fucking big kicks ass!! This huge alpha dragon hypnotises other dragons (somehow) which enables Captain dreadlocks to amass a vast dragon army with which he will take over this fantasy world...although I don't really know why he wants to do that (don't question it).

Of course its the band of plucky Viking kids that must save the day on their quirky dragons...cue lots of obligatory silly visual humour and gags for the kids. I won't go into the kiddie characters here because they are all the same characters from the first movie, as are most of the adult characters. What I really liked about this movie was the in depth and highly detailed array of dragons species we see. Once we discover the hidden dragon sanctuary in a vast ice cavern (created by another uber dragon...this time a female one), the visuals go into overdrive with dragons everywhere. Its like looking at a cave full of colourful butterflies all rendered perfectly in CGI, seriously its such a beautiful spectacle to behold. From here on there are dragons everywhere yet it never becomes dull or just looks super sweet.

I don't wanna spoil it too much but I gotta give kudos to the uber alpha dragon clash. This is easily the standout sequence in the movie and it is impressively slick looking as these two humongous beasts ram each other with their jumbo horns and roar a lot. It really felt like I was watching a battle from the animated The Clone Wars show...only a gazillion times better looking. I loved how the camera follows the flight of some dragons around like some crazy rollercoaster ride, nothing too outstanding these days but it looks awesome. With each passing animated movie the visuals just keep getting more glossy, more magnificent and generally spectacular.

I still dislike the choice of Baruchel for the voice of Hiccup...I mean I really don't like it, its so fecking annoying. Everyone else fits into their roles well (or as before), Butler again giving us a lovely Scottish Viking. But when its all said and done this movie like other animated movies is all about the visuals and visual humour, and this doesn't disappoint. The plot is a tad boring, sure it offers some little moments, some tiny twists...but essentially its a very safe bog standard affair (I realise its based on a book but still). The characters are well developed and designed, most of the dragons are also well designed (some looking too silly and freaky for me) and the main battle is right up there with any big live action fantasy adventure.

Obviously not quite as fresh as the first movie, it takes its time to pump out the thrills but it definitely gets there in the end. I think the fact it appeals to all ages really makes this franchise a winner. Much like 'Toy Story' its so damn likable, who doesn't enjoy dragons in a movie?! In the end this movie (franchise) made me wanna live in this sumptuous little universe with my own pet dragon, what more can I say?...a job well done movie.