The Stumbling Critic Reviews ‘How to Train Your Dragon 2′

The Stumbing Critic: ‘How to Train Your Dragon 2’

Genre(s): Fantasy, Animated, Dragons, Action, Comedy

Animated films seem to be coming back with a vengeance and success this year. I’ve only been reviewing movies for about a year, but my eyes have always been on the ratings. I’ve stated before that Rotten Tomatoes is my comparison point for my own ratings, a digital wall of other opinions. Never have I seen a non-documentary film reach almost one hundred percent until How to Train Your Dragon hit theaters in 2010.

That movie was alright, but its sequel is far superior. Both movies rank above a 95 percent (top critics), with only 10 negative reviews for the second installment. A mystery has unfolded before me because neither film is a 9/10. It’s baffling how in love critics and audiences are with How to Train Your Dragon 2.

‘How to Train Your Dragon 2’ movie poster. Courtesy/Reel Deal Theater

Trilogies seem to be the desired movie format of the moment; thus this installment sets up for another sequel coming out in 2016. Yet, How to Train Your Dragon 2 does hold against severe criticism. Ultimately, this is kids’ movie that adults can enjoy as well. (Sounds familiar right?)

 Three narrative threads interweave to form the story, thus I had trouble articulating the core concept. However, Hiccup and his family remain at the center. Conceptually, the original and its sequel can’t be distinguished from each other because they are the same ─ Vikings fighting other dragons with their dragons. That’s not far off from Vikings fighting dragons.

Despite having over a dozen notable characters, most of them get glossed over. Stoick (Gerald Bulter), Hiccup (Jay Baruchel), Toothless (Randy Thom), Valka (Cate Blanchett) and Drago (Djimon Hounsou) are character focal points. Honestly, Dargo shouldn’t be on that list; however, main antagonists need some credit.

Hiccup and his family fuel this sequel’s success. Valka’s (Hiccup’s mother) reappearance shocks Hiccup, but endearing family moments commence as she tells her what became of her. Forgiveness and tearful reunions make up a third of this film. Scenes involving Hiccup and Valka are the best part of the movie. While emotionally touching, I was hoping other characters would some of the spot light as well.

This sequel doesn’t shift the basic story structure. Hiccup goes off exploring, finds something or someone; and brings the news back to his village, usually shocking the entire village.

Despite the expanded world presented, basic structure tainted that experience for me. We see more dragons and step a bit into their origins. There are in fact greater dragons than a queen from the previous movie. Dragons become more than pets, becoming majestic beasts—or as close as Dreamworks animation can manage—that should be respected and protected. Humor carries this movie to success as well. These moments break the tension of otherwise intense action sequences.

The Nitpicks

The whole story was paced at a little slower than Sonic’s ring runs. Progression is swift, not leaving much time for characters to be introspective and properly deal with emotional interactions. However, I am lenient because of the target audience’s age.

Besides Hiccup, none of the other kids get much attention, which cause them to appear one dimensional.

Score: 8/10

This is one of the few truly family friendly movies parents can take their kids to watch. See the full review at: .

Steven Walter has lived in Los Alamos most of his life. He graduated from NMSU as a starving writer and loves to review just about anything. He shares his opinions about movies, video games and anime. Feel free to look at more reviews and other content at

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