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Sunday, June 22, 2014

I love a good animated movie. I especially love seeing the new technology being used to create animation that was unheard of just 10 years ago. “How To Train Your Dragon 2” has some of the best animation I have ever seen, although I am sure something else will come out this summer to top it. But when it comes to a fun night at the movies, it is hard to top “How To Train Your Dragon 2.”

The problem with reviewing a movie like this is that the plot elements I want to discuss would all be spoilers, so I won’t discuss them. I will say that the underlying theme of this movie is growing up. Even at 20 years old, Hiccup (the main character) still has some growing up to do and, as always, his development is accelerated by some very dire circumstances.

People who watch these animated movies and then tear them apart for their story, their character development, or their theme are missing the point. The point to a good animated movie is to sit back and just enjoy yourself. “How To Train Your Dragon 2” certainly understands the purpose of an animated movie and delivers on that purpose with flying colors.

There is a “gay controversy” with this movie that was probably purposely created by Craig Ferguson, who voiced the character called Gobber. It is a controversy that has parents and movie critics up in arms and it is completely stupid. Do you want to know why it is stupid? Because if I don’t tell you what it is, then you will never catch it in the movie. So I’m not going to tell you. If you look it up somewhere else before you see the movie, then that is up to you. But I would first suggest that you go see the movie to see if you get offended and if you feel like the movie is too risqué for your kids. I guarantee that if you don’t know what you are looking for, then you will never find it.

There is a lot of action in this movie, which Dreamworks recently announced is the second movie in a “Dragon” trilogy, and there is a lot to take in. But the reason that HTTYD2 is so good is because it works on two very important levels. The visual element is entertaining and fun for the young kids and the story is fun for the parents. Every good animated movie works on those two levels and this movie does it very well.

The movie pulls us through emotions such as anger, sadness, joy, and helplessness. It succeeds in every way that an animated movie is supposed to succeed. If it has one short-coming, it is that the relationship between Astrid and Hiccup seems a bit forced in some spots. But even that gets smoothed out as the movie rolls along.

Like any good and deliberate kids’ movie, HTTYD2 gets us laughing and feeling warm in the beginning, and then suddenly drops us to the very pits of frustration. Then it pulls us out of that pit and gives us a reason to cheer. But it also adds new dimensions to each character and that is why this movie is better than other animated sequels such as “Kung Fu Panda 2.” We learn something new about almost every character and that always enhances the story.

A sequel can never capture the magic of the original movie. But if it is not careful, then a sequel can become a parody of the elements that made the original movie successful. “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective” is a fun and entertaining comedy. “Ace Ventura 2: When Nature Calls” stretches all of the gags from the first movie out so far that they become transparent and no longer funny.

“How To Train Your Dragon 2” avoids being a parody of the first movie because it adds dimension to the first story and doesn’t over-expose the little bits that made the first movie so funny. There is also a not-so-little tribute to Godzilla in this movie that should be obvious to anyone who is a fan of the King of the Monsters. I have to admit, the Godzilla tribute did help to solidify my positive impression of this movie.

All in all, “How To Train Your Dragon 2” is fun because it has a lot of new elements in it that make it interesting. The humor is well done and the action is a joy to follow. It is a movie that each member of the family can enjoy, which makes it a perfect movie for a night at the drive-in.

Rating: 4 out of 5

George N Root III is a movie fanatic and drive-in enthusiast. He can be found at the Sunset Drive-in all weekend long and invites you to join him at least once this summer. He can be reached at

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