Monday, 16 June 2014

How to Train Your Dragon 2 (2014)

The original 'How to Train Your Dragon' ended up being a highly liked film and one people said was more like a Pixar film and less like the standard Dreamworks output. Which I couldn't understand. I thought the film was highly overrated. I couldn't see the appeal.

But as the first film was one of Dreamworks' more successful films, a sequel followed. Set 5 years after the first film, we see that Hiccup and his Viking community have bonded well with the dragons. Now Hiccup and his buddy Toothless go around the place mapping unexplored areas. It's not long before they find people who are capturing and enslaving dragons and then finding a whole new community of dragons. It turns out the bad people are after this community of dragons and so Hiccup and friends must stop them. I can't say the plot was inspired or interesting, especially as half of it is more just battle/action than any actual plotting.

As you might expect from Dreamworks, the animation is good even if the '3D' does it best to debilitate this (there were no 2D showings). There are a few nice visual moments in the film, which is accompanied by a decent score. Alas, like the previous film, I didn't see much beyond that.

Many of the issues I had with the first film transfer over here (such as why are all the kids American yet the adults Scottish?). But there is little point is discussing those issues as they're inherited. Ignoring those, and most of the problems with this sequel come down to it not having much in it. For all its attempts to make it 'bigger' as well as more 'emotional', it ultimately ends up being empty.

As I mentioned, half the film is just battle stuff where the protagonists face off against faceless goons and a very one-dimensional villains who is, at best, forgettable. Not much feels at stake and it all plays out in a predictable fashion. Nothing to get invested in. It's a meaningless, po-faced spectacle.

Before all that, though, the film seeks to reunite us with the characters from last time as well as introducing some new ones to up the emotion (or so it thinks). I never cared for any of the characters before (it doesn't help that Hiccup has the voice of Jay Baruchel) and the introduction of Hiccup's mother isn't done in a way to have any impact (and then there is the annoyance of portraying her as capable before the film-makers then decide to have her continually needing to be rescued).

Things don't get better when you turn your head towards the humour. Why? Because there is little of that. And, of what there is, plenty of it simply isn't funny (a lot of it is standard kids stuff seen in many other films). The film treats itself far too seriously. I got the impression that it believed it was a more important, mature animation when, really, it is just more of the same.

Among recent animations, it doesn't have the appeal and charm of 'Frozen' or 'The Lego Movie'. It has the visuals to match, but little else.

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