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CINEMA REVIEW: How To Train Your Dragon 2 (PG)

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The Standard’s reviewer Gavin Miller takes a look at the How To Train Your Dragon sequel.

With the original film being one of the best new animations over the past few years – the inevitable sequel would always ensue.

But fortunately it doesn’t suffer the same fate as some computer-generated follow-ups – Despicable Me, Kung Fu Panda, Cars etc – by at least being the equal of the first film.

What Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and co. lose out in originality, they regain with a meatier, more epic adventure – that really provides some of the most lusciously visual animation seen to date.

Its been five years since teenage Viking Hiccup and his trusty dragon Toothless successfully united the inhabitants of the island of Berk – led by Gerard Butler’s big-bearded Stoick the Vast.

With harmony between the dragons and Vikings – and dragon racing being the island’s new favourite sport – life is great, until Hiccup and girlfriend Astrid (Ugly Betty’s America Ferrera) stumble across a secret ice cave full of wild dragons while exploring for unmapped territories.

They soon realise a mysterious dragon rider is keeping all of these creatures safe from the clutches of an evil dragon-catcher Drago Bludvist (Djimon Hounsou) bent on world domination, and the duo and their pals – including Snotlout (Jonah Hill) and Ruffnut (Kristen Wiig) – soon find themselves embroiled in a battle that could just change the new-found peace and stability on their home world forever.

The story itself doesn’t prove to be that dissimilar to the likes of say, Ice Age 4, but shows its superior class by providing an extremely polished feel that is more akin to Dreamworks’ earlier Shrek films and Disney’s Pixar movies, to always keep it at a level above middling animation fare.

It might become a bit busy and bloated in places for younger cinema-goers, but the colourfulness of the dragons on-screen always engage, and it offers a deep enough story to entertain adults more than adequately too.

But once again it’s Baruchel’s Hiccup who really provides the movie’s amiable presence and – along with his ‘Night Fury’ Toothless – really breathes fire into the coals to stoke up a generally entertaining adventure.

That coupled with truly jaw-dropping animation – you can really see subtle improvements with facial expressions and wind-swept hair even compared to a few years ago – then HTTYD 2 and Dreamworks really raise the bar for other studios to emulate.

It may never reach the outstanding level of some of the genre greats like Toy Story – but this is a franchise that now undoubtedly has wings. Rating: 4/5

 

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