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Daniel’s Review (24/06/2014):

‘How to Train Your Dragon 2’ takes place five years after the first film and now Hiccup and his friends are now young adults, with Berk now opened to dragons, and nearly everyone has dragons of their own. But, a dragon army is being created and it’s up to Hiccup to stop them.

Finally, the ‘Dragon’ franchise is DreamWorks Animation’s shining crown jewel, as these films are above usual DWA fare, and is up with the greatest efforts of both Pixar and Disney.

‘Dragon 2’ doesn’t disappoint, it is an exciting action-packed film with real character development of drama and comedy.

The writing is pretty much spot-on, as this film shows that animated movies don’t always need to be for kids, as this film will interest adults more as it is dark for an animated film and is pretty much like a blockbuster action film with exciting and breathtaking battle climaxes.

Of course, Hiccup and Toothless are the stars of the movie, but also Hiccup’s father, Astrid and even the side characters have some nice moments, more than what they contributed to the first film.

My only complaint, the film does slow down a bit in the middle and the narrative flow isn’t as perfect as the first film’s flow of narrative, but darn is it close, as this sequel is a shining achievement for animation and has made me extremely interested in the future of ‘Dragon’ films from this amazing franchise.

‘How to Train Your Dragon 2’ is a rare sequel that is extremely close to the first film’s in both quality and entertainment value, as ‘Dragon 2’ is exciting, action-packed, entertaining characters, beautiful animation and overall, just a magnificent film from start to finish.

Score: 8.6/10

 

Nic’s Review (24/06/2014):

The first ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ is among my favourite animated films of all time, and my favourite Dreamworks film, so I had high expectations for its sequel.

While ‘How to Train Your Dragon 2’ doesn’t quite match its predecessor’s storytelling finesse, it is nonetheless a fantastic sequel, well-deserving of the franchise’s reputation.

It is great to revisit the world of Burke and the filmmakers do a good job of expanding the universe with more locations, people and dragons. The world of ‘Dragon 2’ feels more alive and real than that of the first film.

In addition, the main characters feel more mature in both the way they appear and behave and the manner their stories are developed. It is refreshing to see an animated film that ages its characters and the level of detail to which the animators have gone in this direction is impressive, especially with Hiccup and Toothless whose chemistry is even stronger here than in the first ‘Dragon’.

Character is where ‘How to Train Your Dragon 2’ hits all of the bulls-eyes. Both protagonists (Hiccup and Toothless) are exceptionally likeable, even loveable, and supporting characters from the first film are given much more screen time to develop. Astrid and Hiccup’s father, Stoick, are perhaps the most notable in this regard. There are character moments in ‘How to Train Your Dragon 2’ that equal, if not exceed, those of ‘How to Train Your Dragon’. It has a darker overall tone than the first film and, in my opinion, is the darkest of Dreamworks’ films, rivalled only by ‘The Prince of Egypt’, and that goes a long way in terms of taking itself seriously and ensuring quality. Several of these scenes are comparable to Pixar’s more mature fare, such as ‘Up’, and I applaud Dreamworks for departing from convention. ‘Dragon 2’ is still a Dreamworks film, however, like the first one, and it feels more like one than a Pixar film.

The imagery is gorgeous, the jokes are more hit than miss, and the world is enviably alive. Oh, and the score is spine-chillingly awesome.

Where the film falters, just slightly when compared to the first film, is in its looser plot structure. Its moral is diluted far more than in the first film, even if its there in some capacity. What ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ did so well was condense a simple character arc into a balanced three-act plot structure. Unfortunately, while its first two acts are excellently woven and built up, including a spectacular Act 2 turning point, ‘How to Train Your Dragon 2’ spends too long on them in comparison to the final act, which ends up feeling a little anti-climactic, however logical. Another 15 minutes injected into the climax would have made this film the new king of Dreamworks Animation. But ‘Dragon 2’ will have to settle for second place.

Let’s not end on a sombre note, though, because ‘How to Train Your Dragon 2’ is a fantastic entry into the Dreamworks library and an example of how, when they try their best, they can be as good as Pixar.

Score: 9.1/10

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