Friday, January 8, 2016

How to Train Your Dragon 2

Year 8, Day 8 - 1/8/16 - Movie #2,208

BEFORE: The animation block continues tonight, I can probably come close to clearing this category from my list before I need to switch to something else.  Kristen Wiig carries over from "Despicable Me 2", voicing the character Ruffnut tonight.

FOLLOW-UP TO: "How to Train Your Dragon" (Movie #920)

THE PLOT: When Hiccup and Toothless discover an ice cave that is home to hundreds of new wild dragons and the mysterious Dragon Rider, the two friends find themselves at the center of a battle to protect the peace.

AFTER: It's been four years in the real world since the first "How to Train Your Dragon" film, and about the same amount of time has passed in the fictional land of Berk.  Nearly everyone on the Scottish-like (or is it Viking-like) island has their own dragon, dragon racing is now a thing, heck, they've pretty much converted to a dragon-based economy, finally coming off the outdated sheep standard.  

Hiccup, now 20 years old, and his dragon Toothless are charged with exploring and mapping new islands, and during this process he encounters a band of dragon trappers and their foe, a mysterious female dragon rider.  No spoilers here, but she turns out to be rather important, and her backstory answers several lingering questions.  Like Hiccup, she believes that humans and dragons are not enemies, and neither should dominate the other, they should all work together.  

There's a nice contrast here between the "good" dragon riders who believe in this sort of ideal, and the "bad" dragon riders who engage in trapping and trying to dominate the other species.  Otherwise I fear there would be too fine of a line between the factions.  It's also nice that there's a mix of male and female characters here, Disney can only seem to make animated films about solo characters, so they end up making films that are either "boy" films or "girl" films, and I don't see why they can't make something with a group of characters like this.  (ASIDE: Several critics praised "The Force Awakens" for having the first strong female Star Wars character, which is a pile of ridiculousness.  What about Leia?  Padme?  Ahsoka Tano in the "Clone Wars" show, and more females in "Star Wars: Rebels".  Some people just don't do their research.)

If I've got any complaints, they'd have to do with the frenetic flying action, which is nearly enough to cause motion-sickness.  If I were watching this in a theater in 3-D, I'd probably feel a little queasy.  Plus there are just way too many types of dragons, which probably helps sell a lot of toys, but it starts to feel a little like Pokemon with dragons if there are 30 or 40 different breeds, all with different powers. 

NITPICK POINT: I get that the Alpha dragon has the ability to control all of the other dragons.  But if Drago doesn't believe that dragons and humans can bond, how did he get the ability to control the Alpha in the first place?  Something in this equation doesn't quite add up.   

Also starring the voices of Jay Baruchel (last seen in "This Is the End"), Cate Blanchett (last seen in "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies"), Gerard Butler (last seen in "Tomorrow Never Dies"), Craig Ferguson (last seen in "Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events"), America Ferrara (last heard in "How to Train Your Dragon"), Jonah Hill (last seen in "The Wolf of Wall Street"), Djimon Hounsou (last seen in "Amistad"), T.J. Miller (last seen in "Rock of Ages"), Christopher Mintz-Plasse (last seen in "The To Do List"), Kit Harington (last seen in "Pompeii").  

RATING: 7 out of 10 flaming arrows

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