News

REVIEW: ‘How To Train Your Dragon 2’

REVIEW: ‘How To Train Your Dragon 2’

Photo: YouTube

Genre: Animation, Action, Adventure | Run Time: 102 min | Rated: PG
Director: Dean DeBlois | Starring: Jay Baruchel, Cate Blanchett, Gerard Butler

By: George Wolf

They had me at “Drago Bloodfist.”

Actually, they had me four years ago, when the original How to Train Your Dragon was not only one of the best films of 2010, but one of the most visually stunning 3D films ever.

Part 2 may fall a hair short of those original lofty heights, but you can still expect an exhilarating, often eye-popping family adventure.

Writer/director Dean DeBlois returns to catch us up with Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel) and his dragon, Toothless, five years after they showed their village that dragons and Vikings can be buddies after all.

Things aren’t so harmonious in neighboring villages, as the evil pirate Bloodfist (Djimon Hounsou) has his henchmen always on the hunt, looking to capture new additions for a growing dragon army. Hiccup favors reasoning with the pirates but his father, Chief Stoick the Vast, (Gerard Butler) prefers a pre-emptive strike.

With obvious parallels to current global terrorism, HTTYD2 offers more mature, darker themes, but wisely doesn’t overplay this hand. The franchise, with part 3 already on the way, continues to be anchored by the bonds of family and friends, and the special relationship that can develop between man and beast.

What may make the younger viewers start to fidget are two backstory sequences, one involving Bloodfist and another featuring Hiccup’s mother Valka (Cate Blanchett). Though hardly fatal flaws, the compelling nature of the story begins to wander away, safely returning when Hiccup and Toothless get back into focus.

As the showdown between pirates and Vikings draws near, the visual elements continue to impress. With an assist from esteemed cinematographer Roger Deakins, the effects department again illustrates the glorious possibilities of 3D animation. The in-flight sequences make the heart race, and when Valka runs to the edge of a cliff to grasp the size of the approaching armada below, the aerial shot is simply breathtaking.

Boasting inspired storytelling, magical visuals and enough subtle, real world sensibility to give it resonance, HTTYD2 keeps this franchise crackling with vitality.

Verdict-3-5-Stars

News

29 mins ago in Entertainment

OPENING WEEKEND: ‘Captain America: Civil War’ is finally here

Fresh
10-overlay

Here's a look at some of the films set to open this weekend.

34 mins ago in National

Making headlines this week

Fresh
A member of the NATO parachute demonstration team lands during a change of command ceremony at NATO military headquarters in Mons, southern Belgium on Wednesday May 4, 2016. U.S. Army General Curtis  M. Scaparrotti was installed as NATO's 18th supreme allied commander Europe (SACEUR). The commander, by tradition an American general or admiral, is responsible for the overall direction and conduct of NATO's global military operations. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

A look back at some of the biggest stories this week and the headlines you may have missed.

37 mins ago in Lifestyle, National

Anti-hunger group uses fake app to fool, educate

Fresh
18-overlay

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates 14 percent of Americans, or more than 17 million people, are what is called food insecure, meaning at times of the year, they are uncertain of being able to acquire enough food for their household.

4 hours ago in National

Top reason Americans will vote for Trump: ‘To stop Clinton’

trumpREUTERS

The U.S. presidential election may turn out to be one of the world's biggest un-popularity contests.

6 hours ago in Entertainment, Sports

Kobe Bryant’s ‘Dear Basketball’ to get Disney treatment

KOBE472419167185

Kobe Bryant's farewell poem to basketball is going to be turned into a short film.