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Wow!  I’m amazed!  How To Train Your Dragon was a movie that knocked me back with how surprisingly great it was.  When I heard they were making a sequel, I was equally excited and apprehensive.  I wanted to go back into this universe with these characters, but I wasn’t sure where they would go from the first movie’s ending since it seemed like such a good self-contained story.  Not only did the sequel meet my high hopes for it, it soared high over them.

This is how you do a sequel.  The story and characters grow and change with the new discoveries that they come across.  We learn more about these characters and grow to love them even more than we did the first time.  The stakes have become higher, and even though young people (they’re not kids anymore) are at the center of the story, there are very real and serious consequences for what befalls them just like the first film.

How To Train Your Dragon 2 shows great courage and maturity by trusting its audience–which it knows is going to be children as well as adults–to handle the serious subject matters and to not have to rely on goofy moments every thirty seconds to keep the kids engaged in the story.  The quiet moments were done absolutely marvelously and rival those of dramatic stories aimed at adults.

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Got that?

The animation is gorgeous.  That might seem as though it isn’t worth mentioning since studios like Dreamworks, Pixar and Disney have been producing top-grade animation since they began, but it’s impressive how they’re still able to raise the bar and bring the same heart and soul into a CGI movie as a classic hand-drawn movie.

Not only do we get to see our human characters in ways we’ve never seen them before, but the dragons also develop and change right along with them.  Toothless is much happier in this film and acts more like a pet than he did before, and the bond he shares with Hiccup is portrayed very strongly.  Even though I don’t own any pets since I’m allergic to dogs and cats…

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That’s basically me after five minutes in a room with a cat.

…I’m an animal lover, and if you are too, you’ll wish you had a pet dragon because it’ll remind you of your favorite pet.

If there’s one negativity about this movie–and it’s a small one–it would have to be the villain.  To be fair, he’s got a cool design and Djimon Hounsou has the perfect voice to induce intimidation into an audience, his motivation and character are a little weak and not thought out very well.  I’m not suggesting that he needed to be extremely complex, but what we were given was not much to chew on, and the abilities he has with the dragons are never really explained and felt like an afterthought.

But that’s a nitpick.  I wish I could say more about it, but if I did, there’s no way I could finish this review without spoiling the movie for everyone who hasn’t seen it yet, and this is a movie to which you should treat yourself.  If you have children, bring them.  It’s got plenty of moments to make them laugh and allow them to have a good time, but it also will give them a dose of drama that will teach them a lesson on how easily the things we take for granted can be lost.  If you don’t have children, go see it for yourself.  How To Train Your Dragon 2 is the kind of movie that deserves to be a hit, and I know that when it comes out on DVD, it will be a must-own for me.

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