Have you ever noticed the scar on Hiccup’s chin in How to Train Your Dragon? I did, but then I’ve watched the movie dozens of times. Today I learned how he got it, and it’s a lovely, sweet addition to the saga.
Yep, I finally saw How to Train Your Dragon 2 this afternoon. It’s the first feature film I’ve ever seen in 3-D. Truthfully, I barely noticed. Perhaps my eyes became desensitized to the 3-D after awhile. Or perhaps I was so caught up in the story, I simply didn’t notice.
Two things I’ve loved about the DreamWorks Dragons television series: the develpment of Hiccup and Stoick’s relationship; and Hiccup becoming a leader through his role as head of the “Berk Dragon Training Academy.” It was wonderful to see these two elements carried through in HTTYD2. Another delightful nod to the series? Gobber making dragon saddles and performing dragon dentistry.
Comparisons between How to Train Your Dragon and its sequel abound. It’s only natural, and I’ve done some comparing, too. But the two are very different films. How to Train Your Dragon is about finding your way in the world, forging a new path HTTYD2 is more a coming-of-age story, discovering your past and accepting responsibility.
Several reviewers have likened HTTYD2 to The Empire Strikes Back. It certainly is darker that the first film, the stakes are higher, and the consequences much more dire.
HTTYD2 is extremely emotional—and heart-breaking. I had read some of the spoilers before seeing the film. In a way, I’m glad I did, because they were so shocking and unexpected, I can’t imagine what my reactions would have been had I not known about them.
You might think Hiccup finding his mother was a major spoiler. Rumor had it that DreamWorks was upset the trailers included their meeting, but I’m sure it was intentional. There was so much more to come, things I wouldn’t have imagined in a “children’s film.”
If you haven’t seen the movie yet, you might want to stop here. On the other hand, if you don’t mind spoilers, read ahead.
Five years have passed since we last saw Berk. Hiccup and the other teens have grown into young adults. Stoick’s beard has gray in it. Gobber has several new attachments for his missing hand, including a brush to tame his mustache. Heck, Stoick and Gobber each have dragons of their own.
But a threat looms on the horizon. Drago Bludvist is amassing an army of dragons to take over the world. Valka, the mysterious dragon rider (and Hiccup’s mother), has been trying to thwart his plans by rescuing the dragons Drago has wounded or left for dead. With the help of the Alpha dragon, the Bewilderbeast, she has created a safe haven for the dragons. But Drago has a Bewilderbeast of his own, and he plans to destroy Valka’s haven and take control of its dragons.
Drago has learned to control his Bewilderbeast, who in turn controls all the other dragons. In an attempt to show his superiority to Hiccup (whom Astrid has christened the “Dragon Master”), Drago’s Alpha gains control of Toothless (although Toothless fights it valiantly) and orders Toothless to kill Hiccup. The only reason Hiccup survives is because Stoick throws himself in the line of fire.
One of the spoilers I’d read was that Toothless killed Stoick. Even knowing this, as I watched the aftermath, I almost expected Stoick to recover. I also knew that, in his grief, Hiccup would spurn Toothless (once again himself and mourning Stoick). Fortunately, the rejection doesn’t last long. But by the time Hiccup realizes Toothless wasn’t himself, the dragon’s back under the Alpha’s (and Drago’s) control.
It’s Toothless’s connection with Hiccup that eventually saves him. And it’s the fearless fight of the Night Fury that saves the other dragons and Berk itself.
The best endorsement I can give? I’ll likely see the movie in the theater again, even paying full price, although I qualify for the senior discount. (I couldn’t figure out how to show my proof of age to the automated ticket machine.)
Incidentally, How to Train Your Dragon 2 is the second highest rated animation film at IMDB, even beating out its predecessor. Then again, HTTYD2 has only 10% of the votes that How to Train Your Dragon has.