Really good family movies are often hard to find. And when I say family movies, I don’t necessarily mean movies made for families, because frankly that encompasses most animated films nowadays. What I mean by ‘a good family movie’ is a movie that succeeds at having elements that each member of the family can enjoy. Moms, Dads, little boys and girls, grandma and grandpa… etc. With How to Train Your Dragon 2 there’s something for everyone.
2010’s How to Train Your Dragon was a surprisingly fantastic film about a young boy who goes from nerdy wimp to brave hero by showing his dragon fearing clan that they can coexist with the dangerous creatures. Part 2 picks up five years later. The hero of the first film, Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) has grown older and wiser and now spends his days flying on his dragon companion, Toothless, and discovering new worlds. Along his journey, he uncovers more dragon hunters led by creepy villain Drago Bludvist (Djimon Hounsou) and a swarm of new dragons under the careful protection of the mysterious Valka (Cate Blanchett).
As with the previous movie, and most movies by Dreamworks, the animation is beautiful. The scenery is so captivating, you’d swear you were watching a live action film and not CGI. The dragons, which is what most of the kids come to see, are even more fun and fascinating than before. The Alpha dragons, massive ice breathers who can control the smaller dragons, are the most impressive newcomers (I’m only subtly biased in loving them).
But nowadays nearly every animated film has funny characters and elegant animation. To be a truly noteworthy animated film, you have to have a story that will capture those characters in a relatable light and give them interesting challenges. Dragon 2 does just that. Hiccup’s personal journey to live in his father ’s (Gerard Butler) footsteps is a story we can all relate too. And anyone with a pet can’t help but love his relationship with Toothless. Even Drago Bludvist comes with the intimidating mysticism and tragic back story that help make up all of the best film antagonists.
There are shades of other animated films that may make Dragon 2 seem familiar. But with animated films, horror movies, superhero films or any other over saturated genre, that is to be expected. The movie isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel, it only intends to satisfy everyone who comes to see it. Parents will laugh and tear up, kids will smile and cheer… what more can you ask for in a summer animated film?
FINAL GRADE: B+