Friday, 18 July 2014

How to Train Your Dragon 2

Does not drag-on.

“I am Fire. I am Death.” So claimed the beastly Smaug at the end of the most recent instalment of the Hobbit. The dragons in Dreamworks’ hefty box office property may not be as fascinating as Benedict Cumberbatch’s anthropomorphised titan, but then they are a whole lot better than Dragonheart, Eragon and all the other fantasy genre imitators.

After its embracing of the winged reptiles in the last film, the Viking town of Berk is a society thriving in prosperity and harmony. Once more, though, Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and his cantankerous companion Toothless cause a stir when they discover that a malevolent warlord is assembling his own dragon army to achieve world domination.

Since Shrek reluctantly went into retirement four years ago, the only Dreamworks property to commercially rival Disney’s animated output has been the adaptation of Cressida Cowell’s book series. To the many fans of the original, this eagerly awaited sequel has lived up to the expectations. Kids will enjoy the pratfalls more than their older companions. It is not something I personally get excited over but who am I to judge?

Despite a relatively loose plot, director Dean DeBlois and his creative team have developed a successful formula for children’s movies which has an easygoing appeal. His ace card lies in the deft computer animation of the fantasy world, where each creature and location is given its own unique identity. The detailed way in which the different dragons interact with each other is a particularly nice touch and provides background entertainment to some of the slower scenes.

Alongside Baruchel, Gerard Butler and Craig Ferguson return to lend their voices to the Vikings. Cate Blanchett also features in a role which is an already-spoiled spoiler from the trailers.

It is odd that half the cast speak in a Scottish highland accent while the rest settle for North American. But then, in a story where dragons are ridden like horses, you can’t really question the reality of the details.

Smaug would not be amused. Neither would Cnut (who was Danish – not Scottish).


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