How to Train Your Dragon 2
Once in a while an animated film becomes a sterling adult experience. Sure, most of us need kids for company to justify the trip. On the other hand, it is embarrassing to sit alone and get emotionally wrapped up in an animated feature where you have a little tear in your eye.
How to Train Your Dragon 2 falls in to that category. My two grandkids finally found time in their busy schedules for me, and their parents came along for the ride. Everybody loved it, and the film evolved into a legitimate human drama that never disappointed.
The first How to Train Your Dragon film appeared 5 years ago, which is hard to believe. In that film, we discovered Hiccup and his wounded dragon Toothless as they accompanied each other on a quest to have humans and dragons trust one another. That wasn’t easy.
In this film, Hiccup’s father is the head of a kingdom that has embraced dragons with the same love that we do dogs and cats. Everybody but Hiccup is having a great time, and he sets out on a quest as if he was a Nordic version of Christopher Columbus.
In the process, he discovers new lands and new villains, and the question remains who will triumph. Although it isn’t hard to guess the answer, it makes for a pretty spirited journey. Hiccup is an immensely likeable kid with a heart of gold, and his girlfriend Astrid (America Ferrera) is never far behind.
Central to the film is Hiccup’s reluctance to succeed his stern but loveable father, Stoick (Gerard Butler), as the leader of their clan. He balks at administrative duties, and his quests for new worlds leads him to the astonishing discovery of his long missing mother. She is voiced by Cate Blanchett, and you soon realize that the two have a lot in common.
There is a nasty villain in the film known as Drago (Djimon Hounsou), and he holds humans and dragons in complete disdain. For reasons that you will see, he has the ability to hypnotize dragons, and Toothless is put in complete peril. While the kids squirm a bit in their seats, you can’t help but feel a bit uneasy at Toothless’ fate.
The films visual effects developed by Motohisa Adachi resemble some of the magnificent scenes in Avatar (2009). The scenes are beautiful, and high pitch battles with Drago’s forces leaves lives on the line.
The great thing about How to Train Your Dragon 2 is that it reflects an attempt to cure profound divisions in their world. It reminds me of my favorite T-shirt displaying a cross, the Star of David and a Muslim symbol. Underneath it is the phrase, “Can’t We All Just Get Along?”
Hiccup and his mother Valka confront the same problem, and they are determined to overcome it. They embrace love, tolerance and respect as the fundamental building blocks in life, which include the rights of all dragons to live their lives in peace.
As I watch Tea Party members criticize President Obama at every turn in our country, Sunni’s battling Shiites while Arabs battle Persians in the Middle East and Russians fighting Ukrainians for reasons defying explanation, you almost wish that Hiccup and Toothless were around in our world. Why is everyone everywhere encouraged to be so bitter, angry and hateful?
Some guy in history once said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Was that Hiccup?