How To Train Your Dragon was the movie that I took my family to see over four years ago. It was the night before we left California and moved to Italy. It was a movie for a family to watch together. My daughter has just turned four and my son had just turned twelve. Their ever differing tastes have made it difficult over the last four years to pick a movie to watch together. So when I saw that How To Train Your Dragon 2 was playing tonight, I thought this would be a great opportunity to do something together as a family again.
My daughter was initially hesitant about going to see the movie, but my son jumped at the chance. I was surprised that he was so enthusiastic about going. If any of you have had a sixteen year old son you know that they can be sullen and difficult at times. Mine is no exception, but for this movie he was completely on board. We finally convince my daughter to go and she was ultimately glad that she had.
If you enjoyed the first How To Train Your Dragon, chances are that you are absolutely going to love the sequel. The movie does something that Dreamworks hasn't always been able to accomplish in the past with its animated films; it shows actual character progression for the protagonists. If you think about the Shrek series, the character of Shrek always seems to revert back to being the same old grumpy ogre when a new movie starts. That is not the case for How To Train Your Dragon 2.
When the audience is introduced to Hiccup it is five years after the first movie and he has grown up physically, but also developed more as a person. The island of Berk has changed as well. The dragons have become permanent residents and the island has maintained its cheerier look without the lack of constant dragon battles. Hiccup's dad Stoic has softened around the edges a little and is bursting with pride in his son. It's a nice change to not see their relationship back slide to where it was in the first movie.
I don't want to give any of the plot away, but the story is stronger than it was in the first movie as well. The conflict presented in this movie is much bigger in How To Train Your Dragon 2 as it should be in a sequel. The island of Berk finds itself in real danger, not just pestered by dragons raiding for sheep every night. The plot allows for many fantastic dragon battle scenes and some big moments for characters like Hiccup and Stoic. There are also tender, emotional moments in this movie, moments that you expect to find in a Pixar film.
Overall, this was an excellent movie. It is one of the rare sequels that improves on the original but stands well on its own. I highly recommend seeing it.