Pop into a cinema near you to experience the thrill ride of How To Train Your Dragon 2

Four years ago, DreamWorks released what would become its highest grossing film (behind the Shrek franchise) and left audiences hungry for more. Early 2010 saw How To Train Your Dragon conquer the imagination of audiences and put dragons back on the map. This year, the studio released the highly anticipated sequel How To Train Your Dragon 2 (HTTYD 2), and once again the audience was not let down.

Set five years after Hiccup’s battle to save his home, Berk, while simultaneously aiding his scaly friend, Toothless, HTTYD 2 opens with a quidditch-like game involving sheep, dragons and racing. We are introduced to previous characters: Astrid, Snotlout, Fishlegs, the twins Tuffnut and Ruffnut, Hiccup’s father Stoick the Vast among others. But where are the main duo?

Within minutes audiences are treated to an exhilarating ride of their lives as we follow Hiccup and Toothless on what seems to be one of countless journeys to map the world outside of Berk. The ability to fly with dragons has meant that Hiccup’s curiosity has only grown as he searches for more dragons and other tribes. This leads to him finding a burnt down forest beautifully depicted with rugged landscapes and the storyline’s catalyst: dragon trappers.

From here, Hiccup and Toothless, along with his friends and father, go on a mission to find and stop the man creating a dragon army: Drago Bludvist, a man Stoick met many years before and warns Hiccup that he is a man not to mess with.

Along with this storyline is the massive revelation that Hiccup does indeed take after his mother, who was supposedly killed by dragons when he was only a child. His mother, however, became what can only be described as the Jane Goodall of dragons, living like a hermit in a huge dragon den with a colossal alpha dragon, one of the originals. What ensues, is a masterpiece in animation with colours that make you feel the cold, water that makes you feel wet and dragon rides in the clouds that make you feel like you are in fact floating.

Accompanied by Jónsi’s intelligently crafted soundtrack, another element to be retained from the previous film, audiences are transported into a world of sheer cinematic delight as all the cinematic elements, spine-tingling music, stunning visuals and an impressive and enticing storyline convey the risk taken when it comes to the artistic freedom featured in the film.

Sequels are notoriously hard to create, most follow a certain story structure and try to outdo what was done in the original. However, director and writer Dean DuBlois, along with others, managed to build on Hiccup and Toothless’s relationship and story, rather than just extend it for another 99 minutes. And by build, I mean really push the relationship to new heights and help the characters to grown up simultaneously independent. The friendship between boy and dragon becomes more like a brotherhood after we learn Toothless is roughly the same age as Hiccup. Toothless protects Hiccup in his times of need, and visa versa. Hiccup becomes Toothless’s guiding voice when he is challenged by Drago Bludvist’s alpha dragon.

Overall I give the sequel a strong 4 stars out of 5. It’s beautifully crafted by animators who understand the importance of making the animation so good it isn’t even noticeable (as said by a Pixar animator when discussing the golden rules of animation). All of the audience’s senses are engaged as we are taken on a roller coaster of a dragon ride outside of Berk and into the realms of friendship, family bonds, and the importance of protecting your own – be it dragon or human.

How To Train Your Dragon 2 (2014), Dreamworks, 98 mins, voices include: Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, Cate Blanchett, Jonah Hill, America Ferrera, Kristen Wiig, Kit Harrington.

— Jay Cray, Editor (Film)