The universal appeal of Hiccup and Toothless has touched the hearts of many people round the globe when the first “How To Train Your Dragon” soared successfully into theatres last 2010 and nabbed two Academy Award nominations for Best Animated Feature and Original Score. The first film, based on the children’s books written by British author Cressida Cowell, introduced to audiences the gangly teenage Viking Hiccup, whose world is flipped upside down when he encounters and befriends an injured dragon he names Toothless.
In the upcoming sequel, “How To Train Your Dragon 2,” it is Hiccup’s coming of age story, “not the ‘further adventures’ of Hiccup and Toothless” as some sequels are prone to do. When director Dean DeBlois pitched his idea for the second film to DreamWorks Animation executives, another crucial element of his pitch was the fact he wanted to age the characters by five years. In the movie, it is effectively a Utopian society, but there is trouble looming as Hiccup, now a young man, discovers while out exploring with Toothless that the ruthless conqueror Drago Bludvist (Djimon Hounsou) is hell-bent on destruction. He is building a dragon army. It is up to Hiccup to face his destiny and tackle the daunting challenges that lie ahead.
He discovers an unexpected ally: his long lost mother Valka (Cate Blanchett). Valka disappeared many years ago and it emerges that she is in fact a dragon whisperer who has an uncanny connection to these amazing creatures. Presumed dead by both her husband Stoick (Gerard Butler) and their son, she has spent two decades rescuing dragons from traps and keeping them safe in an Arctic, dragon sanctuary.
Astrid, Hiccup’s champion dragon racer girlfriend returns, voiced by America Ferrera, as do other familiar characters from the first film: Snotlout (Jonah Hill), Fishlegs (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) Tuffnut (T.J. Miller) and Gobber (Craig Ferguson). Kit Harington from “Game of Thrones” joins the cast asthe dragon trapper, Eret, Son of Eret.
“Kristen Wiig, who plays Ruffnut, does it so well,” DeBlois says of her constant rejection of the boys and her slavish fawning over Eret. “She’s the last of Berk’s scarce and scary single ladies but she has no interest in either of them. We have some very strong female characters in Astrid and Valka. We thought there was room to have one that was completely shallow and vapid as well,” he chuckles. “We made Ruffnut as ridiculously shallow as possible. She’s willing to throw everything she has at Eret to try to get his attention, just as Snotlout and Fishlegs are dying for hers.”
This time around audiences get to see a different side of Jonah Hill: putting romantic charm into his character as Snotlout tries to gain the advantage over Fishlegs for Ruffnut’s affections. But he really hasn’t changed much. Christopher Mintz-Plasse is back as Fishlegs, the big, loveable oaf who knows everything there is to know about dragons. “We get to see a more aggressive side to him this time around because of his competition with Snotlout,” Owens adds. Ruffnut’s antagonistic twin is played by T. J. Miller. “T.J. Miller is one of the funniest people on Earth,” DeBlois says. “He gives us all sorts of ad libs that I love to use whenever we can. I just can’t get enough of the banter he has with Kristen as the battling twins — and they’re always at war with each other. It’s just kind of a silly, nonsensical joke. We love to play out the idea that even though they’re forced to work together, they’re always trying to sabotage each other.”
“Eret, son of Eret, who is one of three new characters in Dragon 2, is a little bit full of himself. He claims to be the finest dragon trapper alive,” says DeBlois, “because he and his team have been successfully trapping them for some time.” In time, his opinion will change. “There’s more substance to him than Hiccup and Astrid give him credit for when they first meet him,” DeBlois says. He works for Drago Bludvist, a vicious megalomaniac without conscience or mercy, who once claimed to be a man of the people, devoted to freeing mankind from the tyranny of dragons. In reality he presents an even bigger danger than Eret, who’s just a middleman: Drago is building a dragon army.
“How To Train Your Dragon 2” is action-packed, moving and funny. Visually stunning, the 3D film is highly immersive with wondrous images of fantastic and realistic looking dragons soaring across the skies.
A DreamWorks Animation film, “How To Train Your Dragon 2” is now showing in cinemas (available in 2D, 3D and 4DX format) from 20th Century Fox and distributed by Warner Bros.