Main cast: Jay Baruchel (Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III), America Ferrera (Astrid Hofferson), Gerard Butler (Stoick the Vast), Craig Ferguson (Gobber the Belch), Jonah Hill (Snotlout Jorgenson), Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Fishlegs Ingerman), TJ Miller (Tuffnut Thorston), Kristen Wiig (Ruffnut Thorston), Djimon Hounsou (Drago Bludvist), Kit Harington (Eret), and Cate Blanchett (Valka)
Director: Dean DeBlois
Cocky brats who think they know everything and refuse to obey anyone for the sake of being the rebel without a cause may be palatable when they are in the underdog position, but put them in the top dog position and let them still whine and mope, and they become as obnoxious as Jay Baruchel’s voice. So, make that brat in question speak with Jay Baruchel’s voice and How to Train Your Dragon 2 is as fun as being forced to sift through pages after pages of said brat’s Tumblr.
In the last year, our hero Hiccup has introduced dragon taming to his people. Now, everyone in Berk has a dragon companion and life is great. Hiccup, however, mopes because his father wants him to take over the leadership of Berk, but the brat would rather fly free in the skies with Hiccup and map new territories because responsibility is for losers and oppressors. He mopes about this because he is clearly the most unfortunate teenager in the world. His girlfriend Astrid wants to marry him, and she seems more dedicated to her responsibilities than the duty-shirking truancy-loving Hiccup, but having a penis is everything even in this fake Valorous Viking Valley place, so Hiccup is doomed to be the boss and, thus, life is unfair and horrible.
One day, Hiccup and his hangers-on Astrid and friends discover a new island where it looks like dragons have attacked everything. They soon learn of the existence of a guy who tames dragons, only, this dragon tamer is evil because he is planning to use the dragons as soldiers for an army. Hiccup’s father would prefer that they work on the defense of Berk, since he has met the villain Drago before and knows that Drago is a mean and merciless SOB. Hiccup knows that he can talk Drago into turning over a new leaf and what not, so he takes off on his own. Astrid and the others, bereft of any meaning of life without Hiccup around, take after him. Only, Hiccup goes one way and discovers his creepy mother Valka, who turns out to be alive still and is now the resident dragon whisperer in some island full of dragons, while Astrid and hangers-on fly straight into Drago’s clutches and inadvertently reveals to Drago that Hiccup is the other dragon tamer in this place. Drago decides that there can only be one dragon tamer in this place, so he decides to lead an assault on Berk.
Hiccup is an annoying character in the first place, whiny and obnoxious with a sense of self-entitlement passed off as personal insecurities, and this time around, without an underdog status to even half-way justify his “I want things done my way or I’ll flounce in a huff!” tendencies, he’s insufferable. In the end, Hiccup “grows up” by embracing the very things he apparently disdained in the beginning, only after completing his self-discovery at a great cost to his people – not that his people call him on it, because that would spoil the fantasy of Hiccup being the triumphant hero everyone is waiting for. And it’s his dragon that does most of the hard work here, Hiccup just gets all the credit.
Astrid is now downgraded to the chick that enables and supports her self-absorbed boyfriend, her only joy in life is to be married to him. She thinks and talks about him all the time, while Hiccup is more preoccupied with playing patty cakes with his mother. Speaking of Valka, oh boy. First, the animators gave her this creepy face that comes with serial killer eyes, and then the writer gives her a personality that basically boils down to: “I thought I screwed up, so I dumped my baby and husband out of love to become a dragon’s unpaid house maid, but now that I know my husband and kid still adore me, whatever, bye dragons, I’m off to cook and bake for the boys!” What a reasonable and intelligent woman! She waves a stick around, but she needs to be rescued by her husband.
The movie beats the males with the stupid stick too. Hiccup’s father comes off like a dim lug who prioritizes indulging his self-absorbed brat over the welfare of his people. The twins in Hiccup’s entourage embarrass and debase themselves for a girl who only begins to notice them when they finally start destroying and breaking things. Let’s not even start with Drago. The entire cast stereotypes both males and females to such an inept degree that I wonder whether writer Bonnie Arnold hates her job or something.
The take home message of How to Train Your Dragon 2 is not stupid kids ruin everything and should be locked up until they are 40, despite the fact that it is Hiccup’s unwarranted smugness about his abilities and his stupidity that started a whole chain of events which leads to the tragedy that follows. Hiccup is portrayed to be in the right, and he is even rewarded and feted in the end. The message here is… hmm, who knows. It’s catering to the adolescent fantasy of being allowed to do whatever one wants and be respected for it, damn the consequences. The movie brings up an interesting question of nature versus nurture when it comes to the dragons, but the message is diluted and eventually hand-waved away with banal “It’s not your fault, and hey. I’m now the boss and I get the chick, so LOL whatever!” feel good sentiments by the end of the movie.
The dragon chases and fights are quite entertaining, but it’s just too bad that I caught this film in the theater and couldn’t fast forward through all the emo teen nonsense.