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Spoiler Zone: How to Train Your Dragon 2

how-to-train-your-dragon-2-posterI don’t talk about any spoilers in this post, but spoilers are allowed in the comments!

Since a few people have asked me already, I just saw How to Train Your Dragon 2, and I loved it. It is a wonderful expansion of the world and deftly sidesteps many of the pitfalls of a lot of sequels.

It’s a darker film (befitting the characters’ age), bigger without being an assault on the senses, and gorgeous to look at (and listen to).

I’ve said before that the first one is a “perfect” movie, inasmuch as any movie can be. I could nitpick about a few things (exposition-induced pacing issues in one scene, a clunky line in another, etc.) but there is so much done well — so much done perfectly, really — that I really feel like I need to see it again to solidify my opinions about it.

In any event, this second film in the series was an intense, emotional, and action-packed adventure movie featuring characters many of you already love. What the hell are you waiting for?

If you’ve seen it, tell me what you thought below! But be warned: spoilers are 100% okay below.

34 Responses to “Spoiler Zone: How to Train Your Dragon 2”

  1. Dan Shive says:

    Saw it last night and thought it was fantastic. It is a movie full of emotions and it is willing to punch hard in the gut at one point in particular. The only thing that bugged me enough to mention it here is that one would think Stoic would have learned by now to immediately listen to his son when Hiccup says he has to tell him something important.

  2. Marit says:

    Saw it on Thursday (they had 8 & 9 p.m. showings the day before open…weird), and I absolutely loved it. I also cried several buckets of ugly tears — I never thought they would off Stoick, much less in such a horrible way. When Toothless came out of it and didn’t understand what had happened, I pretty much lost it. Agreed that it’s a fantastic expansion on the world and the story. My one quibble was how quickly everyone got over the whole parental abandonment issue (Celtic songs cure everything!). Other than that, I adored the movie. I may need to see it another six times or so.

  3. mother says:

    Did they really have to release this on Father’s Day weekend? I feel like I was punched in the gut a few times and i was talking my kids of a ledge by the end of it. I could get really nitpicky about the character development of the mother/son/family relationship though. it was a good movie, but that seemed a bit forced to me.

    • Gordon McAlpin says:

      Ouch. Yeahhhh….

      I agree that the mother felt slightly shoehorned in, but it didn’t bother me.

      • Capn_Awesome says:

        Apparently the original draft of the script had the mother as the principal antagonist. They decided that was too bleak, and added the Drago character. Which is why the mother character really has nothing to do during the third act.

        • Gordon McAlpin says:

          Apparently she’s pivotal in the third movie. But yeah, the fact that she doesn’t have much to do later on is unfortunate, but it (like all of my issues with the film) felt like a minor complaint.

  4. Coco says:

    Honestly I was disappointed. It is visually stunning and it has great ideas, but I got annoyed at several things:
    Astrid being there for eye candy only (and to give the bad guy more information and motivation to attack). I wish she had been the one to free the dragons instead of constantly needing help from the male characters.
    The funny chin markings guy seems extra, he takes away screen time from other characters. He’s just there so there are more men to save the day.
    The mom seemed like a cool character and then she didn’t contribute to solve things at all. Twenty years living with dragons, bonding with them and studying them is nothing compared to the manly Alpha males’ innate abilities (and I am not talking about dragons).
    It’s too Hiccup centric. He and Toothless are the only ones who can do anything useful.
    And how the hell did the bad guy control the Alpha? With his manly growls and intimidation techniques? How can a guy who hates dragons build such a bond with a dragon so huge? And how was he able to ride Toothless? Did he master the art of the tail movements with his special dragon rapport?

    I’m sorry, but after the family got reunited the film just did not work at all for me.

    • Gordon McAlpin says:

      I think you make some valid points, but I have to disagree on one: I don’t think the idea of a humans dominating animals that could easily kill them is all that far-fetched at all, really.

      • Coco says:

        I guess I see it as a circus trainer whipping the lions into shape and being totally violent. The moment he shows a moment of weakness, he’s lion food. And the Alpha dragon could control other dragons. I just don’t see a weak-willed easily controlled dragon being able to control dragons himself and being a true dragon Alpha. A human Alpha is still only a human.

        But then again, in HTTYD the dragons were scared by snakes and were controlled with easy tricks…

    • ishneak says:

      definitely disliked Astrid being less action oriented, and more pleasant this time. i miss feisty “No one is kissing me on the lips EVER” Astrid.

      that and some other things bugged me, but i’ll wait to see what everybody else days. i don’t want to think i’m too cynical about the movie haha, it was wonderful :)

      • Gordon McAlpin says:

        That’s funny — I thought she kicked ass in this. I wished she had a bit more to do, but what she did was great. I also took it that she was more pleasant because she’s grown up. Before, she was annoyed with Hiccup for being better at something than her (inexplicably). They got past that in the first movie. It seems better for me to not rehash that.

        • Neal says:

          I think Astrid is there as much as she needs to be (and can be, with how many characters and storylines they were juggling). The first scene with her and Hiccup felt weird (not natural in how it was written or acted, or something…), but it shows that they are equals and understand each other.

          After that point, the movie picked up for me, and Astrid is clearly active and competent, willing to follow what she believes is right and get the job done, just like Hiccup. She’s clearly a strong character and a leader among the younger cast. Really, she’s on par with Stoic–Toothless and Hiccup are the main characters of both movies, but Stoic and Astrid are the characters that they need to get support and caring from.

          Is it fair to make the comparison that Astrid is the “Stoic” in her relationship with Hiccup? Hiccup seems to take after his mom, more. And I still think Astrid could take Hiccup in a fight now, even with all his nifty little toys. She carries a battleaxe as big as her head! :p

          • Coco says:

            And yet, does she even use the battleaxe at all? She could’ve fought the guys who were having her walk the plank just as well as chin tattoo guy but she didn’t and the guy ended up kicking ass and even finding Astrid’s dragon and freeing him.

        • ishneak says:

          i don’t mean a rehash, just more of signs that her old “tough girl” touchy personality is still there. it’s almost like a complete turnaround from her demeanor at the end of HTTYD and even the TV series. mind you, she does already smile in those but not just, all the time i guess. it’s just a little odd that there was no visible transition/explanation for her change in temperament. and yes, part of “a bit more to do” was what i was looking for. she’s Hiccup’s best friend, someone who keeps him in check and also her bodyguard in a sense, so she’s supposed to figure a lot in the story, but hopefully the third movie will supply that? i was looking for more “girl power” perhaps but they could maybe have given it to Valka this time.

    • Jessica says:

      I don’t feel that Eret was extra, actually. I felt he was supposed to show that, yes, Hiccup can broker peace and can change people’s minds about dragons, even a person faced with what would seem to be certain death for admitting the about-face. We know from the first movie that he did it with his own people, and it felt like they were reinforcing that theme. (Although I did have to laugh at the “gratuitous” bicep shots for Ruffnut’s benefit.)

      The main thing that bugged me in the “man saving the day” regard was that Valka needed Stoic to save her in a particular scene, and I immediately was a bit put off by that. Her mannerisms with the dragons before Hiccup knew who she was fairly shielded her from the normal animation of a woman (although we knew who it was, because we accidentally saw a stupid trailer at another movie), so if you didn’t know it was a woman, it wasn’t immensely obvious in her actual movements in the beginning. My husband made a great point that her movements were more dragon-like at that point.

      • Coco says:

        I found this article that nails my feelings about Valka and goes well with your observations and your husbands’ as well:

        • Neal says:

          Not sure if I agree with everything in that article (though yes, I do wish the fight with big bad had actually required Valka and Stoick to work together… not sure why they went the way they did with tihs).

          The biggest thing that I found interesting int he article was the idea that Valka was originally conceived as a villain. It would have been hard to pull that off in a kid’s movie and not be too dark, but Stoick was an antagonist of sorts in the first movie… it could have been done. Really, the movie almost looks like it’s suffering from not moving away form that idea enough.

          Actually makes me a little sad… there’s a lot of potential in Valka being an antagonist–there’s enough difference in her original viewpoint and how things are at Berk in the beginning to have made it work.

          • Gordon McAlpin says:

            This interview with Dean DeBlois has him describe her role in earlier drafts as a “sympathetic antagonist,” not a villain:

          • Neal says:

            Okay, nifty. That’s kind of what I was envisioning, as a sympathetic antagonist, not unlike Stoick in the first. There would have been a lot of room to do interesting stuff with that, even having Hiccup be torn between different philosophies (I actually thought they were going this direction at first, since Valka’s wanderlust and “this is what it’s like to be a dragon” feelings seemed to match up with his own issues at the start of the film).

            To be honest, I would have preferred just focusing on that storyline versus bringing in Drago and the alphas. But I have that problem with movies sometimes. *sighs* My imaginings for a Matrix sequel still seem much cooler than what we got.

    • ElevenSixteen says:

      Mostly I was disappointed in her giant exposition to the bad guy. It was super out of character for her (I like to think she is smarter/more put together than that), aaaaand all the tragedy that followed was kind of her fault, no?

      I mean, I *LOVED* this film and will see it again but that disappointed me.

  5. The Titillator says:

    The first bit was fantastic, especially visually. But after the mom stopped being feral, the movie just went downhill. If you weren’t Hiccup, then you weren’t really necessary. Kit Harrington’s character had five lines at the beginning then stopped talking til the very end. Djimon Hounsou’s bad guy was so underdeveloped. The movie could’ve used another 45 minutes for more character development for everyone, not just Hiccup. Just too many characters, human and dragon.

  6. ishneak says:

    BTW, i’m also a little disappointed with the final “boss battle”. what made the first movie’s fun was they used elements in their surroundings like the clouds and flashes of lightning kind of thing, or the rocks falling down the cave, the earth shaking, etc. here it was too simple, practically just standing on a rock in Berk. would have been nice to see them use the cliffs and beaches and maybe even the forests, rampaging through the familiar places fans know of Berk. quirky little details that maybe Chris Sanders had an eye for. but we’ll see, i’m going to see it again if there are those quirks after all that aren’t obvious the first time :)

  7. Olivier Giguère-Durand says:

    The whole bad guy should have been cut from the movie entirely. There was enough for two movies in this one and every props I had to give to the movie for not falling in the relationship tropes between Hiccup/Astrid and mom/dad, I have to take away for using them on Hiccup/Toothless. The dad’s death was pointless, it would have been more significant to see Hiccup step up to the plate without being forced to (however, major props for the funeral, that scene was exquisite.) The relationship of domination from the bad guy on the second Alpha I can get… up to a point. By the end, he had nothing left to dominate it, the Alpha was seeing multiple examples of rebellion, the bad guy was just screaming at it, powerless… I loved the family reunion and I feel it’s a major let down that we couldn’t see it play through, even if only for one movie. I loved the effects (except the human skin, but I think they held back on that to keep the feel of the first one), especially the water/ice/snow and the stubble of hair. At first I was annoyed at the sexual harassment constantly being shown toward and by Ruffnut, but, in afterthoughts, they are adolescent and I guess that’s actually a fair way of representing them (still, horned vikings, dragons, it’s fantasy, so that is more or less a valid reason.) My final nitpick was Hiccup giving his father’s dragon to the newcomer within hours of his deaths, after he just joined the tribe. While he may become a very important character later, that felt wrong, for some reason.

    it’s my favorite movie of the year so far and I only foresee Guardians of the Galaxy as having a chance to take that place.

  8. Mark Sierens says:

    One thing I think could have done better was the new tatooed face guy earning Stoic’s Dragon. Like actually saving hiccup from the bad guy. It could have given more impact to the character joining the clan and thus earning the dragon. All in all great film.

    Who wants to bet the 3rd film will be finding another night fury for toothless?

  9. TheRealAdam says:

    It was wonderful but had the same problem as the first: way too many
    damn characters. What the hell did Tuffnut even DO in this movie?
    Snotlout and Fishlegs fawning over Ruffnut and Ruffnut fawning over Eret added some levity, but Tuffnut brought absolutely nothing to the table. The silent elder did more than him.

    Also, why did Cate Blanchett do that ridiculous accent. Butler and Ferguson’s seemed toned down a bit in response to the criticism of the first film (their accents vs the kids complete lack of), but she sounded utterly absurd when talking next to Baruchel.

    Why is it so much easier to criticize than praise?

  10. Alek Felstiner says:

    Here’s hoping Jason at least acknowledges how lazily racist the villain is. It seems like something he’d do even if he liked/loved it.

  11. Eric Michael Gonzalez says:

    I enjoyed how the “Good Alpha”s death foreshadowed Stoic’s death and how both were very similar. Especially with how Valka became attached to both of them. My only real issue with the film was that I don’t feel like Hiccup really developed too much over the past 5 years. Yeah he grew more confident and even arrogant, but they failed to show the leadership and responsability he built up over TV series. The act of blindly running off to change a warmonger’s mind seemed like something he’d do in the TV show or the first movie. I just felt overall they had him making the mistakes he would’ve made in the first movie. Though to counter my own point, he does have Stoic’s brash attitude. Stoic did lead two failed attacks on Dragon’s Island. So like father, like son.

  12. Bitter_Arron says:

    I just thought the whole ending was rushed and lost its impact, the first two acts were great and weighty, but the ending was just toothless goes super saiyan, the end.

  13. Wicingum says:

    Good, and glad that I got to go see it in theatre, though I undeniably saw more flaws than in the first. Seemed like some pretty heavy plotting laid down for two major conflicts in next film: Astrid had a number of moments of appreciating the new guy, setting up a faux triangle whenever things start getting difficult between her and Hiccup, since Chinster McTattoo is the more “obvious” fit for her as a strapping tough viking and Hiccup is about to get very busy in his new job; and the heavily-hinted quest to find another Night Fury which seems inevitable to end up with some choice for Toothless between Hiccup and a mate. And of course all to be resolved with teary-eyed hugs and music swelling all around. (Fantastic music, but still.) I HOPE I’m wrong and that the writers will pull out something that blows these tropes away. But when watching this film, I kept getting knocked out of the wonder by thinking “Aaaand that lays the groundwork for cliche sequel idea A. Oh, and look, there’s cliche sequel idea B, too.” Prove me wrong, writers, because I still love these damn adorable vikings!

  14. Richard Grevers says:

    Finally saw it yesterday. Generally Great. But did I miss it, or was there absolutely no reaction from the people of Berk to Valka landing in their midst after 20 years presumed dead? Granted there was a battle going on at the time, but a collective gasp when she landed could have fitted in easily. And she could have been recognised more formally when Hiccup was made chief.
    I feel that Astrid’s character was rounded and softened (both graphically and figuratively) a little too much. She seems to have done years more maturing than any of the other young vikings. And although it’s important not to have too many new characters, it seems strange that there are no new riders after five years.

    • Gordon McAlpin says:

      Stoick and Gobber rode in the movie. And Gobber’s whole job has changed from making weapons to kill dragons to making saddles and such for dragons. I thought it was pretty well established that basically the whole town were riders. Only the kids were RACERS; maybe that’s where you got that idea.

      • Richard Grevers says:

        Yes, I guess I was thinking in terms of the Academy from the TV series, which didn’t feature at all in the film. And of course while the events of the TV series occupy at least a year or two, they were constrained by TV budget i terms of having to use the existing town “sets”, which leaves a narrower window for the extensive redevelopment we see in film 2.
        I thought of another discontinuity: The gag of Hiccup’s first helmet being “half his mother’s breastplate” in film 1 obviously assumed a large viking woman rather than Valka (who probably never donned armour!)

        • Gordon McAlpin says:

          But if you noticed (I did, anyway), she was rather… um… endowed. So it still fit. So to speak.