Kyle J. Steenblik

How to Train Your Dragon 2 is a perfect parent/child bonding experience

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traindragon2_largeHow to Train Your Dragon 2 is heartrending, heartwarming, and even more exciting than its predecessor is.  In a theatre full of excited children there were cheers, and tears and not one perceptible ounce of disappointment.  I’m not really sure if you can measure the disappointment of children in ounces, I’m not really sure why one would need to measure childhood disappointment.  Is there are market?  If there is you won’t strike it rich off this movie.  There were however, several ounces of tears, mostly children’s but many adults shed at least one, or dozens.

The sequel is often not as good, or just as good, as its predecessor.  Occasionally a sequel will surpass the original; I believe How to Train Your Dragon 2 did just that.  I believe this film owes its effectiveness to the first film, the subsequent shorts, and the television series, which firmly established the primary characters, and embedded them into the consciousness of the audience.  There is no need to slough though character development, or moral dilemmas.  The conflicts are much more personal, and rooted in the strong relationships that have developed.  As an audience member that has enjoyed the first film and the follow-ups, along with my children, we held an emotional connection that pulled us through the story by the heartstrings.

It’s been five years after Hiccup befriended a dragon he named Toothless, and forged a lasting peace and friendship between the Vikings of Berk and the dragons.  Hiccup and Toothless have taken to exploring, and mapping the world around Berk, finding countless new lands, and avoiding taking over duties of chief from his father, Stoick.  One of these new lands Hiccup makes a startling discovery, dragon hunters chasing a mysterious dragon rider.  This discovery propels Berk into war with Drago, and his dragon army, but Hiccup discovers an unlikely ally.  The mysterious dragon rider shows Hiccup something he never imagined he would find, and something he never imagined losing.  The peace of all men and dragons is uncertain, and only Hiccup can challenge Drago before it’s too late.

The film presents a multitude of elements extraordinarily well.  It is hilarious, exciting, endearing, and heartbreaking.  The heartbreaking moments make the film for me.  Many children’s films are almost too optimistic, too happy.  There is rarely a significant threat that anything tragic will really happen, when it does we have the chance to sit with our children as they experience loss and tragedy in a real and beautiful way.  We have the chance to talk to them about it, watch them learn to cope, and learn that the sad moments don’t ruin the happy, and the happy moments don’t soften the bad.  I think a very smart doctor said that.

I enjoyed this film immensely, but my children enjoyed it even more.  5 of 5

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