Director Dean DeBlois in interviews has claimed that [How to Train Your Dragon 2](movie:44736) is his Empire Strikes Back.
Sure, things go dark and adult in a hurry in Dragon 2. The Paradise of Berk where dragons and Vikings coexist is in danger of falling into war with Drago Bludvist (Djimon Hounsou) and his expanding dragon army. Like Empire Strikes Back, How to Train Your Dragon 2 is a coming of age film where some big reveals and startling deaths are all part of the making of the hero and the struggle to keep from going to the dark side. The dark side in How To Train Your Dragon 2 is the desire to rashly go to war without giving peace or conflict resolution a chance.
Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) has matured since the first Dragon into a gangly hipster initially more interested in playing with his pet dragon Toothless and mapping the unexplored boundaries of the Berk kingdom than wanting to be tribal chieftain in training. He’s a peaceful character and a little bit of a loner, preferring solo dragon flights to the Quidditch like dragon races the town and town youth have taken to heart. Hiccup lives with and tries to distance himself from the knowledge that evil and monsters exist and that some can’t be turned no matter the anti-war argument. His one big victory, has produced peace and paradise– be kind to your pets and they will be kind and devoted to you for life.
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There is grace and art in the dragons’ movement. Earthbound they have the prancing eloquence of cats and the behavioral mind-sets of dogs. In flight they gallop through the air with all the awesome majesty of a thorough bred in full stride. The passion of director, animators and screenwriters is so great for these winged marvels that a dragon protector (and long-lost mother for Hiccup voiced by Cate Blanchett) and a preserve is an essential part of the story line. Every intelligent movie species needs a Diane Fossey or Jane Goodall character to advocate for it.
The greatness of How to Train Your Dragon 2 partly resides in how it sagely elevates the wounded to heroes. Hiccup has lost a leg, toothless a tail fin and Gobber, the right hand man of Berk has lost a leg and an arm. This prostheses trio is the most fearsome and brave of all the characters in the movie.
Yet, this is Hiccups and the dragons story. Their joy and pain echo each other as they struggle to find their rightful place in the world. The crazy rainbow of colors that make up this breath-taking flight of fantasy makes it easy to believe that peace can prevail even whe the dark side comes. None of the dragons can talk but they all can sing and soar quite high.
Who can wait for [How to Train Your Dragon 3](movie:570818)?