We are in the middle of something truly special.
If you thought the first film turned Cressida Cowell’s series of How To Train Your Dragons books into animated 3D joy, you are going to love this a lot more. Because they were only getting started.
The second film takes this exciting mythology of dragon lovers and hunters forward by opening up the possibilities for what’s likely to be one of the most loved animated franchises of our times… considering that this was a film planned with a trilogy in mind.
For the uninitiated, the series bases itself on the simple idea of the possible friendships between Us and Them. Dragons are just the metaphor for your perceived enemy. Hiccup and Toothless are just names, you are defined by what you do.
If the first film taught us to understand, empathise, befriend and partner with the enemy in fighting common problems, the second opens up the franchise to a whole new world of power play between Us and Them as if it wants to clarify its title. While the first film and the title (and the original series) is all about “training your Dragon” implying its status as just a pet, the second seeks to take corrective measures and fights exactly that idea — of conquering the other. The villain here wants to conquer the alpha-dragon that controls other dragons by tapping into the nature of the beast.
The nature-versus-nurture dynamic plays out to teach kids just the right kind of morals you would want from a film of this genre. Why conquer your enemy when you can win him over? What is it to be a hero or a leader — the alpha? Is it nature or nurture?
The fantastic detailing and the gorgeous “cinematography” (computer-generated of course) that makes our most expensive animation films look embarrassingly bad notwithstanding, How To Train Your Dragon 2 works so well because of the story it wants to tell and how it goes about it with so much heart, making you smile and tear up, seamlessly alternating between drama, adventure and feel-good.
Without giving away the plot further, suffice it to say there are new characters and surprises, both heartwarming and heartbreaking.
How To Train Your Dragon 2 is proof of what you can do with the form, if the content has an emotional core that beats for what you feel so strongly about.
Take the kids, fly with the dragons. It’s one hell of a flight you just cannot miss this season.
Director: Dean DeBlois
Cast: Jay Baruchel, Cate Blanchett, Gerard Butler, America Ferrera
Storyline: Hiccup and Toothless need to save dragons from a dragon conqueror
Bottomline: Take your kids for some dragon riding this week