original movie was about a son's relationship with his father and how belief really can change the world, How to Train Your Dragon 2 is much more about what happens when that son grows up and has to deal with the world outside what he's known to this point.
And damn but Hiccup grew up nice... I know he's a cartoon character and everything, but damn! With the hair and the leather suit and the freckles and the stubble... damn!
Compared with the first movie (which is amongst my favourite movies and was my top rated movie for 2010), this has a much bigger story, more characters, more dragons and much bigger stakes. But what it shares is that sense of heart and that ability for the animation to just exist in the moment without needing to include a lot of unnecessary words.
It's also definitely a movie to see more than once, if only so you can catch all the little antics going on in the background between Toothless and the other dragons.
Dean DeBlois, one half of the pair behind not only the first movie but also my all-time favourite animated movie, Lilo and Stitch, returns as the writer and director this time around and he's crafted a beautiful story.
And I'm not going to lie... I cried... more than once.
What I love most about both of the HTTYD movies is that there are consequences. Amazing things happen, but there is death and destruction and loss. And it's handled in a way that, like everything else in the movie, doesn't hit you over the head. Like the fact that both Hiccup and Toothless are essentially disabled and while they can both make their way alone, it's when they work together that they both give their best.
And if I thought that the first movie was beautifully animated and rendered, then there doesn't currently exist a superlative to describe how glorious this movie looks. I've already mentioned how good Hiccup looks, but Toothless has had a whole makeover too and everything from his pupils to his scales, even down to his tongue, looks better than ever.
Then there's the first scene with Toothless and Hiccup, flying through the clouds... the ice effects later in the movie... and all the new dragons.
There are also a host of new voices joining Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, America Ferrera and all the others, including Cate Blanchett as the mysterious Dragon Rider, Valka... Game of Thrones star Kit Harington as the dragon trapper Eret, son of Eret... while Djimon Hounsou lends his big booming voice to Drago, the villain of the piece.
What I didn't know going in is that HTTYD2 is the second act in a trilogy, DeBlois accepted the sequel on the condition he could turn it into a trilogy and while this feels like a fully rounded story, it definitely leaves the door open to a conclusion to the overall story.
yani's rating: 4 alpha dragons out of 5