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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

How To Train Your Dragon 2 success turns movie-goers into readers

Here's another shout-out to a book that made it big at the box office!



PG, 1 hour 45 minutes

Grade:  A-

In a Nutshell:  Everyone in the family will enjoy this adorable DreamWorks sequel by Dean DeBlois.  It impresses with FANTASTIC textures and surfaces: fur, leather, hair, metal, wrinkles on skin, dragon scales, tears, chin hairs, etc.  It’s simply amazing how far animation has come.  I didn’t even see it in 3D!

The narrator begins “With Vikings on the backs of dragons, the world just got a whole lot bigger.”  And so it is.  A good sequel builds upon the solid foundation of its original movie, adding new layers and fun surprises.  This movie does just that.  The audience has grown up since the 2010 original, and this sequel has too, developing a rich story that provides substance to the silliness.

Uplifting theme:  There is an environmental message about caring for animals against evil human predators.  Just so you know, no dragons were harmed in the making of this film. Family and forgiveness are also addressed, as well as courage and love.

Things I liked:
  • There are several running gags that weave throughout the movie.  One features  Ruffnut, the Viking twin sister of Tuffnut, as she falls in love with Erit, a new Viking with bulging biceps.  She's not the least bit feminine and is always fighting with her twin brother, so to see her swoon is unexpected and delightful. She is voiced by the talented Kristen Wiig.  T.J. Miller voices her twin brother, who also plays the comic relief in the newest installment in the Transformers movie franchise, Transformers: Age of Extinction .    
  • Another running gag features adorable sheep who are used for a dragon version of Harry Potter’s Quidditch.  Hilarious.
  • I love movies that take time to provide random and humorous details.  Icicles on mustaches.  Freckles.  Beards braided with leather bows.
  • I want a pair of Astrid’s cute, fuzzy boots.
  • The many air scenes will seriously make you want to fly.
  • “The Dancing and the Dreaming” song with lyrics by Shane MacGowan and music by Jon Thor Birgisson and John Powell is very sweet and feels like a believable song of Viking ancestry.
  • I adore Cate Blanchett.  Other voice talents in the film are Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, America Ferrera, Jonah Hill, Craig Ferguson, and Kit Harington.
  • Sure, the flick is fairly predictable, but it's still a fun ride.

Things I didn’t like:
  • Who names their baby “Hiccup”?  A Viking, I guess.
  • SPOILER ALERT:  As awesome as dragons are, I would never leave my baby boy to go live with dragons instead. 
  • Drago.  Really?  They couldn’t think of a more creative name?

Did you know?
  • Directors Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois were not the original directors, but were later hired to create a movie that would appeal to the rug rats AND their parents.
  • Did you know these “Dragon” movies were inspired by a 2003 novel?  Astrid (played by America Ferrara) is a character created just for the movie, as she wasn’t even in the original novel.
  • The character voice of “Toothless” was created by mixing sounds from horses, elephants, tigers, and even the voice of the Sound Designer, Randy Thom.
  • A lot of the scenery is based on real places in Iceland and the Pacific Coast.

Interesting lines:
  • “Men who kill without reason cannot be reasoned with.”  - Stoick
  • “You have the heart of a chief and the soul of a dragon.”  - Valka

Funny lines:
  • “Soil my britches!”  - Erit
  • “Me likey!” – Ruffnut when she sees Erit for the first time.
  • Ruffnut says “Erit was the man of my dreams.”  Gobber says “But Baby, I grew facial hair for you!”
  • Astrid:  “That’s your mother?”
Hiccup: “Now you know where I get my dramatic flair!”


Tips for parents:  There is some fighting and a few scary dragons, but otherwise, even young children should enjoy watching this film.
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