30/30 Day 10: How to Train Your Dragon 2 Review

Hi, I’m Tyler Magruder, or sorryjzargo as I go by on the internet.  I am going to hopefully complete a 30/30 this month.  If you don’t know what a 30/30 is, it is a blog series where you write one blog a day for a month (on months with 31 days it is called a 31/31).  I’ve already missed a few days, so this is a make-up blog.

Dragon2

            Today I saw How to Train Your Dragon 2 in 3D at a local theater.  Directed by Dean DeBlois, How to Train Your Dragon 2 is an animated Viking fantasy film and sequel to 2010’s How to Train Your Dragon.  It features the vocal talents of Jay Baruchel, Cate Blanchett, Gerard Butler, and several other notable supporting actors.  The movie is loosely based on the series of children’s books by the same name by Cressida Cowell and adapted to screen by Dean DeBlois.  The movie is animated by Dreamworks Animation.

Like the last movie I reviewed, one of the main reasons I went to see How to Train Your Dragon 2 was the high IMDb score.  However, I also enjoyed the first How to Train Your Dragon movie, so I would probably have seen it regardless.

I will avoid spoilers as much as possible, but I will have spoilers about the first one because it’s been out for 4 years already.

The story of How to Train Your Dragon 2 takes place five years after the original and follows the young dragon tamer Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel) as he reconnects with his long-lost mother (Cate Blanchett) and attempts to find a peaceful solution for dealing with the evil Drago Bludvist (Djimon Hounsou).  It mixes many tried-and-true tropes from fantasy and Viking movies and they work well together.

So now let’s get to what makes up the movie, from best to worst.

The animation in the movie is astounding.  The textures, the lighting and the attention to detail are almost flawless.  There was one scene in the film where it looked like an unfinished animation, but other than that I was blown away by the visuals.  The character design was great, fitting well with the Viking/fantasy world.  The costumes and the paint were especially fantastic.  Some of the faces felt out of place in the otherwise realistic animation, but that’s a small complaint.  The dragons were designed in a very interesting fashion.  They had personality and were cute but at the same time intimidating when they needed to be.  Out of all the elements in the movie, the visuals are the best.

The music was also great.  Composer John Powell managed to create music that fit the setting and expressed the tone of each scene.  I still have the main theme stuck in my head, but unlike a lot of songs that get stuck there, it doesn’t annoy me.

Now for the not-so-flattering.  In terms of characters, none of them were particularly memorable.  I still remembered who was who from the original, but they didn’t do much to stand out in this movie.  A lot of key moments in the film banked on an emotional response from the audience, but I just didn’t care enough about the characters for it to work.

Related to the characters, the voice-acting was hit-or-miss.  Several of the supporting actors fit very well with the theme and setting, but the main characters were less than phenomenal.  Jay Baruchel has a wide range of emotions that he uses effectively, but I just find his voice grating.

The pacing of the movie was poorly done.  The first 30 minutes of the movie were exciting and interesting as it introduced aspects of the world that had changed since the first one, but then it struck what felt like an hour of exposition.  Then the inevitable encounter with the bad guy, then the hero’s triumph over the villain.  If they had cut out half of the exposition, I feel like the movie would have been much more enjoyable.  But at just under 2 hours, the movie felt too long and boring.

Overall, the movie suffered from predictability and a lack of excitement, but it was still a decent film.  The world of the movie is particularly amazing, and I’m tempted to just copy it for my next D&D game.  However, the plot failed to interest me and the pacing was sloppy.

For those who require a number, I give it a 6.5 out of 10.

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