Now, this is how a sequel is done. For a while, I haven't seen a sequel to an animated movie that is not only good, but better than the original. Until now. "How to Train Your Dragon 2" is the perfect description of a movie that conquers the first film and keep in mind, the original movie was probably the best-animated movie DreamWorks has ever put out. This movie continues the story like a good sequel should and also ups the story, characters, and animation in the process. I even think this is one of the best-animated movies ever made and have so much to say about it.
Five years have passed since the last film and the Viking village of Berk has evolved. The island now lives with their former nemesis, the dragons, in harmony and have even turned many of their former weapons of war into items of use for the dragons like turning giant torches into feeding stations. Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and his dragon Toothless have been exploring and mapping islands outside of Berk in hopes of finding other dragon riders. He instead discovers dragon trappers who are seeking revenge after their fort was destroyed and solidified by ice. Led by Eret (Kit Harington), he reveals that the warlord Drago Bludvist (Djimon Hounsou) is raising an army full of dragons in hopes of conquering the world. After warning his father, the chieftain Stoick (Gerard Butler), the island of Berk is put in a secure state to protect the dragons in preparation for war. Hiccup, believing the war can be avoided, leaves the island with his girlfriend Astrid (America Ferrera) in hopes to talk with Drago and prevent the battle not knowing that they aren't the only ones protecting dragons. I could tell you what happens next, but I'd rather not spoil the movie.
While the last film was directed by "Lilo and Stitch" directors Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois, this film is rather written and directed by DeBlois himself who plans to turn the series into a trilogy. He claims he mostly got inspiration from "The Empire Strikes Back" and it clearly shows. The film does what a sequel should do. The film expands the world, introduces more new characters including more species of dragons and also the fun. The story is what I love about this film the most. It ups the emotion, heart, and comedy from the previous movie while also taking the movie in a more darker and serious tone. One particular scene near the end of the film was so powerful that I actually did get a little teary eyed which is a very high compliment. The animation is some of the best put to film. With help from visual consultant Roger Deakins, the animation was so beautiful and even at times very realistic. There was one shot in the film involving glaciers that looked so realistic that I initially thought it was filmed on a camera. The characters are again, fantastic. They evolve like characters should while keeping the charm that we liked about them from the previous movie. The new characters are also fantastic with the villain Drago Bludvist being a genuinely unlikeable villain while having a believable backstory to explain his actions. My favorite character is still Toothless who can be both cute and funny at times while also being epic and awesome in others. I can go on forever praising this movie, but I'd rather not.
"How to Train Your Dragon 2" is one the best-animated sequels ever made. This is a film that has everything I expect to a sequel. A story that is as good if not better than the original, some breathtakingly real animation, and fantastically memorable characters. It's really a fantastic movie and I'm pretty excited to see where the story goes next. There are many reasons why DreamWorks is considered one of the best animation studios in the business and this is most certainly one of them.