Director: Dean DeBlois
Writer: Dean DeBlois
Cast: Jay Baruchel, Cate Blanchett, America Ferrara, Gerard Butler, Craig Ferguson and Kristin Wiig
Studio: 20th Century Fox/DreamWorks

“How To Train Your Dragon 2″ opens with a discovery of an Ice Cave. Hiccup and Toothless travel into it and they learn something about their past. If that wasn’t enough, the movie takes a sharp turn into dark areas. I’m not talking “Watership Down” dark, but darker than I’ve seen DreamWorks Animation being willing to go in the past. There are several allusions to enslavement and conquest. Djimon Hounsou breathes life into the villain, as you come to realize that he’s a very real and absolute threat in their world.

My wife loves these movies and it took me forever to figure out why. What one could easily dismiss as a casual kid lit adaptation has turned into something far more meaningful. Hiccup is a reluctant and non uniform hero who relies on a community based in shared value. Anyone can be a dragon rider, but not everyone can be a great one. The gap of time between the two movies is noticeable, as the teenagers from the first film have aged realistically. However, it places them in a weird place. Too young to take over the village, but too old to really goof around with their first movie antics.

The echoes of “Johnny Tremain” and other darker Kid Lit tropes remain throughout the film. I welcome them, as animated movies need to have some sort of stakes to keep kiddie eyeballs glued to the screen. The end result is a film that feels epic, yet personal. As Hiccup learns more about his family and why his mother left, it goes from reunion to dark secret time. No one’s innocent, yet they need this time to really carve out their identities. It’s just a battle to see who ends up on top.

RELEASE DATE: 06/13/2014

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