The plucky heroes, breathtaking action, aerial acrobatics and slightly offbeat sense of humour so well realised in the original film adaptation of author Cressida Cowell's world of Vikings and dragons is back in this highly entertaining sequel.
How to Train Your Dragon 2 launches straight into the action with a dragon race around the rugged costal town of Berk, home to our now 20-year-old Viking hero Hiccup (Baruchel).
Humans and dragons are best friends in Berk after Hiccup convinced the townsfolk, led by his chiefly father (Butler), they were friendly. But not everyone feels the same way about dragons, and this story is based around a ghastly character from his father's past who threatens war against Berk and its dragons.
Visually, everything is bigger and bolder this time and the story ventures further from home, which makes you wonder what's in store in 2016 when DeBlois returns with his third film in the series. It makes for a more exciting and slightly scarier film, but when it comes to this story it's not really about scale but character.
How to Train Your Dragon has a winner in lead Hiccup. More peacekeeper than warmonger, life has at times been difficult for the young Viking, and as his father prepares to bestow the Chief's title on him he's more confused than ever. He's ably supported by friends and dragons from the first film, with a number of new characters thrown into the mix, including one voiced beautifully by Cate Blanchett, who helps Hiccup through his young existential crisis.
How to Train Your Dragon is peppered with plenty of wit to keep parents and kids alike happy, but is not afraid to get a bit dark at times, which may be challenging for younger audiences. Thanks to an ambitious visual treatment and a heartfelt story this flick is a good option for the kids these holidays.
Jay Baruchel, Cate Blanchett, Gerard Butler
PG (fantasy violence)
A worthy and ambitious sequel.