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|How to Train Your Dragon 2|
dir-scr Dean DeBlois
prd Bonnie Arnold
with Jay Baruchel, Cate Blanchett, Gerard Butler, America Ferrera, Kit Harington, Djimon Hounsou, Craig Ferguson, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, TJ Miller, Kristen Wiig, Kieron Elliott
release US 13.Jun.14, UK 5.Jul.14
14/US DreamWorks 1h42
Taking flight: Hiccup and Toothless
CANNES FILM FEST
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
It's rare for a sequel to properly deepen the characters from the original film, but this one goes even further than that. Not only does it tell a bigger and more resonant story, but the action sequences are among the most thrilling moments in cinema so far this year. Frankly, it makes Marvel and Hasbro movies look like child's play by comparison.
Five years after discovering his skill at interacting with dragons, Hiccup (Baruchel) questions his ordained role as chief of his Viking village, following his blustering tough-guy dad Stoick (Butler). He'd much rather go exploring with his dragon Toothless. While scouting around, he encounters a group of dragon hunters led by Eret (Harington), who's working for notorious army-building villain Drago (Hounsou). This leads to an unexpected encounter with his long-lost mother Valka (Blanchett) at her secret dragon sanctuary. And now Hiccup's in the middle of a cataclysmic battle that will change the course of his life.
Writer-director DeBlois somehow manages to tell this story without even a moment of manipulation. The plot may be familiar, but it unfolds in ways that are fresh and often surprising, brought to life by characters who are remarkably complex: flawed, witty, heroic and engaging. Even if some side characters are essentially comic relief, they fit into the bigger picture. The relationships between them are funny, emotional and sometimes heartbreaking.
And the animation is breathtaking, with details that bring the people and dragons to life with startling realism, even thought they still look nicely cartoonish. Each figure has eerily realistic skin, tiny mannerisms and a vivid sense of weight, plus sparky personalities thanks to a lively cast. The thrilling action sequences clever use 3D textures to send us soaring in the air and plunging back to earth, rendered on a massive scale than never overwhelms the human story.
In other words, this is a staggeringly entertaining adventure about a young man discovering his way in life. Along with exhilarating airborne sequences, there are moments that are truly romantic and overwhelmingly bleak. Indeed, this film is even better than the original and superior to most other animated movies and blockbusters too. At its centre is also carries an encouraging message that we should never try to live up to everyone else's expectations: we have to plot our own path to make the most of who we are. [
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S|
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© 2014 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall|
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