The bar has been raised once again
They did it. DreamWorks Animation has pulled off what I thought was impossible. As if it wasn’t hard enough meeting people’s expectations because of its A-class predecessor, How To Train Your Dragon 2 barely overtakes the original but flies past all other contenders in recent memory to become my new all-time favorite animated movie!
It is a usual trend within the studio system to make sequels bigger, louder, and more bloated. Typically it translates into a film with less heart and genuine moments, but DWA avoided all the snares and instead remained focused on improving the things that made the franchise universally acclaimed in the first place: the animation, the story, and the characters. Thus, not only do you have a follow-up that’s more breathtakingly beautiful and action-packed as ever, it’s also a more emotionally satisfying experience than before.
Set five years after the events of the first movie, HTTYD 2 reintroduces us to a more mature Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel), son of the Viking chief of Berk, and his world filled with dragons of different types and sizes. Among them is Toothless, a Night Fury (whose breed is akin to a legendary Pokemon) that accompanies Hiccup in his quest to discover new horizons. As they explore uncharted territories and struggle through obstacles along the way, we also delve deeper into their relationship and it’s apparent that their level of trust for one another only grows as the story progresses.
The bond between humans and creatures remain pleasing to watch, and the same can be said for Hiccup’s interactions with his friends and family (old and new). His moments with his girlfriend Astrid (America Ferrera) particularly are some of the most enjoyable scenes, they’re probably the cutest animated couple out there right now!
Apart from the voice acting and animation, much of the reason why it works is attributable to the dialogue, which is still cleverly-written and funny like last time. And who do we have to thank for? Writer-director Dean DeBlois of course! Give that man a pat in a back, a hug, or simply more money so he can make more of this incredible stuff (he’s already working on a third film, hooray!).
I’ve seen the first HTTYD about four to five times in the theater (when ticket prices back at my hometown were a measly 40 pesos or less than a dollar) as proof of my love and support. Back then it was an under-appreciated gem and it took excellent word-of-mouth for it to be discovered by others. Now let me tell you that you should definitely watch this film for it deserves more than just a single watch. Despite the high price of admission, I’d be glad to shell out my savings to catch it again. For this is an example of a rare sequel that transcends a franchise to excellence – much like what The Dark Knight has done to the Batman series. And I’ve barely scratched the surface. There is much more to learn and love about this film, and to ruin your experience with spoilers would be an absolute disgrace on my part. It’s hilarious, entertaining, touching, and incredibly well-directed. So don’t worry about being disappointed and do not fret, because this film delivers immensely and you shouldn’t expect anything less.