How to Train Your Dragon 2 (2014)
June 15, 2014 9:52 AM - Subscribe

When Hiccup and Toothless discover an ice cave that is home to hundreds of new wild dragons and the mysterious Dragon Rider, the two friends find themselves at the center of a battle to protect the peace.
posted by mathowie (15 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
We've seen it twice now and the second time was even better than the first because you can see some of the setups and callbacks more easily. I think the first movie is still better but this is damn close.

The big dark moment in the middle is even darker than I thought it would be (I had a vague hunch somebody would die), by virtue of who actually does it. Holy shit. I really don't know how well a little kid would handle it.

All the Valka/Hiccup, Valka/Stoick, Hiccup/Stoick bits were great. And Toothless steals every scene again. Gobber was great again and made me cry in the scene with Stoick's ship. The scene with Valka and Stoick and Gobber singing was a delight. (I was also amused any time Stoick and Valka were shown close together because you could fit all of her in like one of his arms.)

The other kids didn't do much for me this time. Eret was sorta blah. I did secretly hope Astrid would be the new chief but oh well.

My only real complaint is I really wish the big bad wasn't dreadlocked and voiced by Djimon Honsou.
posted by kmz at 1:04 PM on June 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

I caught it in 3D yesterday and I absolutely agree with the diagnosis of not as great as the first, but still very good.

I'm not 100% confidant with the spoiler policy yet, so I'll still run generic. I had done my best to remain mostly spoiler free, and with the exception of the director claiming it was his ESB, and therefore darker, I was taken entirely by surprise. I was stunned and could only imagine how the little kids took it in the audience. I was solo, so I didn't have any kiddos to quiz afterward.

In the John Powell thread (by the way, the stupid soundtrack doesn't come out until THIS Tuesday - what gives?!), I'd read there was a song and had had a momentary panic of something incredibly silly and completely unfitting for the Dragon universe. GOOD LORD, I WAS WRONG. I loved the song, which was done so well with Stoic and Valka, and with Gobber too, and for those interested, it's a recitation of basically their wedding/love song, and in no way, a musical type of song. The love expressed by Stoic for Valka was wonderfully animated - it was a man who instantly decided that there was nothing worth losing the love of his life again.

I think the character design of the bad guy was kind of informed by the Alpha dragon that he had under his control in the movie. I swear his beard kind of matched up to that dragon's facial horns, or what not. As for Drago, himself, he wasn't a deep character, but they explained his motivation(s) and while not entirely incredible or innovative, suitable.

I enjoyed Astrid and Hiccup and would watch just a road trip between the two of them. I had the same hope that Astrid would become the chief, so I shared the disappointment.

Toothless. He sparks delight in those who watch him. He somewhat ruined the heavy moment in the beginning between Astrid and Hiccup, where Hiccup was going on about how he didn't want to be chief, and wow, serious, and the background, Toothless playing. AWESOME. Where's the 24 hour channel for this?

I enjoyed the score again, though it didn't sweep me up as much as the original. Perhaps, because, the composer knew he couldn't stray too far from the original.

Can't wait for the third one.
posted by Atreides at 4:51 PM on June 15, 2014

Saw it last night and was deeply disappointed.

• Mind controlling toothless was straight up bullshit. If the Alphas can steal agency that easily, I really don't see a comeback from that, but just storytelling wise that was a horrible betrayal by the writers of the audience, Toothless, Hiccup and Stoick.

• The fact that Drago could command the loyalty of that second Alpha through brutality is also a pretty strong betrayal of the entire first film and of both Hiccup's and his mother's world view.

• Both Valka and Astrid were shunted to the sideline and ended up damsel'd.

• Yeah, Drago's dreads.

• Astrid also was forced to hold the stupid ball, a REALLY FUCKING BIG ONE, during the scene on Drago's ship.

The visuals were great and the relationship scenes with hiccup and his family were good, but I left that movie just feeling numb and disappointed.
posted by ursus_comiter at 5:21 PM on June 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

I took the boys to see it and really enjoyed it for the most part; didn't like Astrid's role (not sure why she's suddenly the dumb girlfriend), but still found it pretty solid. It leaves some questions/problems, but I overall enjoyed it.

The kiddos were ok with the darker aspects of it - my youngest crawled into my lap during a certain scene/moment, but outside of that they had a great time.
posted by nubs at 9:03 PM on June 15, 2014

So, this article just posted to the blue succinctly and accurately elaborates my issues with Valka.
posted by ursus_comiter at 6:25 AM on June 16, 2014

I was really pretty shocked a character actually died in the story. A lot about this movie didn't make sense (pretty much everything ursus_comiter says above), but the death really seemed abrupt and not real, and in the realm of kids movies I just assumed it was a temporary setback and the character would spring back to life at the last second, but nope. I'm glad my daughter is 9 now that we saw it, I think at age 4-5 she would be devastated and confused by it.

It made a kids film set in a land of make believe surprisingly serious and suddenly high-stakes. Maybe that was the point, but I didn't like it nonetheless.
posted by mathowie at 7:22 AM on June 16, 2014

Mind controlling toothless was straight up bullshit. If the Alphas can steal agency that easily, I really don't see a comeback from that, but just storytelling wise that was a horrible betrayal by the writers of the audience, Toothless, Hiccup and Stoick.

• The fact that Drago could command the loyalty of that second Alpha through brutality is also a pretty strong betrayal of the entire first film and of both Hiccup's and his mother's world view.

I think these two things both happened exactly so Hiccup's and his mother's world view could be shown to prevail. It's the friendship and love between dragon and rider that overpowers the brute force of Drago's Alpha control. Drago has discovered a powerful way to control dragons, but it's not as powerful as theirs. Likewise, when his alpha is losing/loses, he can't inspire it to persevere or his danger won't inspire it to fight to the end, as Toothless has shown over and over.
posted by Atreides at 7:24 AM on June 16, 2014

I think these two things both happened exactly so Hiccup's and his mother's world view could be shown to prevail.

Yeah, the movie sets up pretty clearly that the choice is to either rule through fear/force or rule through loyalty, and that the latter is stronger. Which is great, you know, except that the mind control ability kinda screws with that narrative a bit; although it underlines how the use of fear/force takes from your followers.

What I was really, really hoping the movie would do - given that Hiccup didn't feel ready yet to be chief - was to have Mom, wise and knowledgeable in the ways of dragons, become the next chief after winning the showdown by befriending the Bewilderbeast. Hiccup and friends still play a major role, but Valka isn't made completely irrelevant to the story the moment the chest thumping warriors show up to settle things. And maybe they could've given Hiccup's girlfriend something to do.

But I also think it was generally a solid film - lots of fun, but also serious about the stakes and the issues. I guess I'm also looking at it primarily as a kids film, so my expectations in terms of consistency and storyline aren't as high.
posted by nubs at 8:55 AM on June 16, 2014

That is a lot of the criticism from the linked post above concerning Valka. She just shows up, all awesome, and then sits on the side for the rest of the film.

The fact, unfortunately for her character, and for Astrid, and everyone else, is that Hiccup has become a hero to Berk, since the middle of Dragon 1. That heroism drops momentarily when everyone spurns him for not killing dragons, but it's then injected with adrenaline when he takes down the alpha dragon at the end. The fact that the village simply explodes in enthusiasm when he shows up during the attack at the end, and also in that Astrid has completely drank the kool-aid (which kind of bothered me some, I'd like to see her more as a grounding element than a booster), makes it impossible for anyone but Hiccup to be the savior and hero of Dragon 2 - based on the creators' arc for him.

Hiccup as chief is probably the ending I wanted least, honestly. I'd loved to have Astrid be chief with Hiccup the Stay at Dragon husband. Regretfully, it's a Beowulf, but optimstic. Instead of killing Grendel, he befriends him and the problem goes away. Instead of hunting down Grendel's mother, Hiccup discovers his own and with her, learns to defeat another evil. Obviously, the last Dragon movie will have Hiccup fighting off one last giant dragon and dying in the process.
posted by Atreides at 9:46 AM on June 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

Yeah, I figured the arc was going to put Hiccup as chief no matter what I wanted - Valka, Astrid, so forth. Which is a shame, because they could've done some interesting things with the notions of heroism and leadership.

But, you also have to make what sells - and for a family movie, it's to do the expected.
posted by nubs at 10:43 AM on June 17, 2014

Here's a question that's been plaguing me for a while regarding the movie. Prior to the release, there was a small fury of articles discussing how the character Gobber is supposed to come out as gay in the movie. This is then premised on a throw away line that Craig Ferguson made (and the director kept) where he explains why he never got married. He basically says, "And that's why I never got married, that and another reason."

In the context of the film, this didn't jump out to me as signaling Gobber's sexual orientation. I don't have a problem with Gobber being gay, but is this phrasing some kind of universal reference to being gay without actually saying one is gay?
posted by Atreides at 9:11 AM on June 18, 2014

I thought Astrid would be chief and Hiccup would be dragon trainer or something -- well, we have movie 3 for that to happen? But it won't.

I also thought Gobber's line meant he was gay, and figured he'd end up with Eret son of Eret.

The mind control annoyed me, but the entire concept of an alpha wolf/dragon is overplayed and annoying. Still enjoyed the movie, but not so much as the first one.
posted by jeather at 7:28 AM on June 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

So, the 6th season of Dragonriders of Berk just dropped on Netflix and took us to the beginning of this movie (it was set as an interstitial between movies 1 and 2). Does anyone want to discuss here or should we have a new thread?
posted by Karmakaze at 10:14 AM on February 20, 2018

Finally saw this movie (my kid is 7) and I’m not feeling the complaints above - this is a story of a reluctant leader moving from outsider to center stage despite himself and my kid could totally relate to feeling not ready for responsibility. I think that’s a better story than having the “natural leaders” take over. At least for the kids for which it’s aimed.

Also while the first movie was all about empathy, this was about the limits of empathy as a geopolitical strategy; you can’t reason with madmen. I liked it.

Lastly I love the village elder as final blessing of all things village.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 12:16 PM on May 11, 2022

Also, that Hiccup had his own vision for how to lead (empathy, hey it worked with the dragons!), tried it, failed (!!) and it had Consequences (his father), and came to revise his strategy to what his parents both espoused despite their differences: take care of your own (village). I think it’s important to call out this part because it’s how how leaders learn, and how confidence is developed.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 1:29 PM on May 11, 2022

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