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Thursday, January 29, 2015

How to Train Your Dragon 2

Okay, so it's time once again to catch up on movies that received Oscar nominations that I missed while they were in theaters. I start with one of the nominees for Best Animated Film, How to Train Your Dragon 2. Because The LEGO Movie was not nominated, I hadn't seen any of the five films.

Without having seen the others, I think this will be tough to beat. It is a sequel, and I have an old fogey aversion to movies with numbers in their titles, but this one is better than the original, and is an amazing technical achievement, even if it is all CGI. At times I forgot I was watching animation.

It's five years after the end of the first film. Berk, a rocky outcropping filled with Vikings with Scottish accents, have learned to live with the once-feared dragons. They treat them like horses, and it's implied that the dragons like this servitude because they are pampered, but a well-paid slave is still a slave.

Anyhoo, our hero, Hiccup, who is now 20 years old, rides his dragon. Toothless, far out over the sea to explore new lands. He and his girl, Astrid, get themselves caught by dragon-trappers, and learn of a villain called Drago Bludvist (with a name like that, how could you be anything but a villain), who is capturing dragons and turning them into an army so, wait or it, he can destroy all dragons.

Hiccup, idealistic, tries to negotiate for peace. He finds his long-lost mother, who has become sort of the Jane Goodall of dragons, and this all leads to a climactic finish when two "alpha" dragons, who are big as cruise liners with massive tusks, go at it.

As many animated films are these days, this one is pro-environment, with a little "can't we all just get along?" It also borrows from the age-old Disney template with a trio of characters providing comic relief, who are voiced by Kristen Wiig, Jonah Hill, and  TJ Miller. Craig Ferguson, Gerald Butler and Cate Blanchett are also featured, with Jay Baruchel, strangely without a Scottish accent, as Hiccup and America Ferrera as Astrid.

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