“How to Train Your Dragon 2” is visually inspiring but otherwise flat. After the success of the first film, a sequel was inevitable. I will give the writers credit for making some bold decisions involving the fate of a few characters, but the effect is lost due to the uneventful first half of the movie. My temptation to quit on this overly-family-friendly-story was only tempered by the interesting design of the different dragons. Disney has mastered the art of creating family-friendly films whose story and character development appeal to all age groups but I couldn’t see anybody over the age of ten being thrilled by the first half of the story. I’ve always taken issue with the casting of Jay Baruchel as Hiccup (his whiney voice is much better suited as a character voice, not a lead animated character that we have to hear for the entirety of the film) so the film definitely started off on the wrong foot, but it’s the lack of direction that just kills it for me. Creating a dark emotional moment only works with the correct setup, and this film plunged into it without taking the time to make sure it would resonate. As in the first film, I find Toothless to be the only memorable character. The story centers on Hiccup and Stoick and I’d be hard pressed to even remember the name of any other character, let alone cite a character transformation or explain their importance to the story. How many characters can you name from “The Lion King,” an animated film that came out 21 years ago? Now, how many characters can you name from “How to Train Your Dragon 2,” a film that I watched two days ago? For as bad as the story is, the animation is that great. The sensation of the POV dragon-riding shots, the creativity of the different breeds (?), and that animation of the ice were all stunning. If “How to Train Your Dragon 2” wins the Oscar for Best Animated Feature, it will be clear that it is for its visual graphics and not the film as a whole. Don't hate me for slaying this dragon film, I can't help that the series is overrated!
[Pictured: Toothless and I seem to feel the same about this story]