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Sunday, June 15, 2014

Cindy Prascik's Review of How to Train Your Dragon 2

Dearest Blog, yesterday I braved the opening-day kidlet rush to see How to Train Your Dragon 2.

Spoiler level here will be as mild as possible for a movie that spoils its own biggest reveal right in the trailer.

Having shown Berk the error of its ways as per human/dragon relations, a more mature Hiccup faces a new challenge with his trusty dragon Toothless.

Well, dear Blog, in all the history of film, there are four movies that I name my "favorite," since it's impossible for me to choose among them. The original How to Train Your Dragon is one of the four, so I could be excused for being a bit skeptical when people (many not involved with the production) started saying the sequel was even better than the original. For as long as I've known that was going to be my opening to this review, I always hoped the next sentence would involve me admitting the error of my ways, but....oh well, let's just get on with it.

The opening scene of How to Train Your Dragon 2, an overlong sequence of dragon games, is the most annoying thing I've ever seen that didn't involve Adam Sandler. Its primary purpose appears twofold: an immediate showcase for the film's stunning digital technology, and an excuse for each character to call his or her dragon by name, so pointedly that I could only assume we'd really need to know the names later. (That never happened.) The scene goes on forever, and by the end I was ready to stand up, shout, "On Cupid! On Comet! On Donner and Blitzen!" and walk out.

Getting the rest of the bad news out of the way: The new characters left me totally flat, and, my dear Cate Blanchett, where on Earth are you going with that accent?? While the first HTTYD boasted clever humor and a sincere charm, the sequel's laughs are few and far between, the good ones mostly poached from the original. Any charm is buried deep by a busy storyline that never quite finds its way. Even John Powell's score seems blah this time around.

Now, the good news: I was afraid that the kids no longer being kids would make the characters somehow less fun, but the returning Vikings are as lovable as ever, just a little more grown-up looking. The dragons also retain their charm, with even more types this time around, and if you're a pet owner you're sure to see your favorite dog or cat in at least one of them. How to Train Your Dragon 2 is also the most beautiful thing I've ever seen onscreen, hands down.

Even when I was getting a little bit bored or annoyed with whatever it was I was getting a little bit bored or annoyed with at the time, the movie quickly brought me back around to its side just by being so damn gorgeous. (I imagine this is what it must be like when Matt Bomer's being a jerk...if Matt Bomer is ever a jerk, which I highly doubt.) I'm not schooled in the art of making movies, so I have no idea what technology filmmakers used to make HTTYD2 so good looking, but full marks are due the art department, VFX, and animators. And the colors...oh, the colors!! Even Rio--my benchmark for visual excellence--might as well be sepia-toned compared to HTTYD2. Time constraints forced me into a 2D show this time, but you may rest assured, dear readers, I'll be seeing this in 3D as soon as possible!

Normally I go to the cinema on Saturday afternoons, when the most pressing thing on my agenda is where I'm having dinner afterward. I saw HTTYD2 after a miserable day at work, with a couple even-more-miserable weeks looming ahead, so I have to admit that may have left me unable to put the world aside to enjoy it as I should. I make that disclaimer only to clarify: the movie's probably better than I'm ready to give it credit for at this writing. Still, to suggest it's even as good as--let alone better than--the original is absurd.

How to Train Your Dragon 2 clocks in at 102 minutes and is rated PG for "adventure action and some mild rude humor."

How to Train Your Dragon 2 is such a glorious feast for the eyes you'll have no problem forgiving its other shortcomings.

Of a possible nine Weasleys, How to Train Your Dragon 2 gets seven and a half.

Until next time...

 "Hail Hydra."

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