"How to Train Your Dragon 2" theatrical teaser poster.

“How to Train Your Dragon 2” theatrical teaser poster.

How to Train Your Dragon 2 picks up five years after the events of the first How to Train Your Dragon movie. Hiccup has grown from an awkward, inventive teen to an awkward, inventive young adult. Everyone in Berk has at least one pet dragon (or the dragons have taken pet people). Dragon racing is Berk’s most popular sport.

Hiccup and Toothless are intent on exploring beyond the edges of current maps—partly to avoid Hiccup’s father, Stoick the Vast, who is keen to retire and make Hiccup the next chief of Berk. In their wanderings, Hiccup and Toothless find Valka, Hiccup’s mother, who has spent the past almost-20 years living among and protecting dragons and has gone a bit feral.

Mother and son hit it off right away, though, which is fortunate, because new friends, new dragons, Stoick, Berk, and all its inhabitants are collectively in the way of Drago Bludvist and his ambitions to CONQUER THE WORLD (of course…). They’ll need all the help they can get to survive.

They do survive. Mostly. As with the first movie, prices must be paid. But, in the end, Hiccup seems set to be a fantastic chief of Berk.

I thoroughly enjoyed How to Train Your Dragon 2. It suffers a bit from “middle child” syndrome (yes, middle movie of a trilogy), and I found Drago annoyingly predictable. Other than that, though, the movie does an excellent job of building on all the things the first movie did right, while adding interesting new characters and plot elements. Hiccup’s ongoing coming-of-age story arc works well, and it was fun to see how his character and that of his friends had grown (or not) over the years.

Hiccup’s relationship with his parents remains dynamic and interesting to watch. His parents were also great fun to watch. I liked the details that went into making Valka seem like someone who hadn’t lived around humans for two decades, and I loved the scene in which normally-stoic Stoick tries to rekindle the love he and Valka had shared. I’m curious to see what they do in the next movie with reformed-dragon-catcher Eret.

When How to Train Your Dragon 2 came out, there was a bit of flak over whether or not Valka was a strong female character. Sigh. I wish people would get over that one already. She was a well-developed, nuanced, INTERESTING character, which I find more important. Did she need to be rescued? Yes, ONCE, in a movie that was all about characters helping and saving each other. Was she the one who saved Hiccup, when he was in most dire need of saving? Nope. But I thought it extremely fitting that that job went to Stoick, who, after all, had devoted twenty years of his life to learning exactly how to protect his son.

One thing I really liked about the movie was how ALL the main characters had important roles to play. All of them had strong moments. All of them had weak moments. In that regard, How to Train Your Dragon 2 was, for an animated movie that heavily features dragons, quite realistic.

The effects and animation were spectacular. The voice acting was excellent. The score, with just a couple of jarring exceptions, fit the movie well, adding to it without distracting me from enjoying it. I highly recommend How to Train Your Dragon 2. We’ve already added it to our collection and look forward to the concluding installment in 2018.

Release Date: June 13, 2014 (USA)
MPAA Rating:PG
Original Title: How to Train Your Dragon 2
Language: English

MySF Rating: Four point zero stars
Family Friendliness: 95%

Content:

Alcohol/Drugs: 0 (description)
Language: 1 (rare, mild)
Nudity: 0 (description)
Sexuality: 1 (kissing and a couple scenes of very tasteful wooing)
Violence: 2 (animated combat and peril, and characters die, though no gore is shown)