I’m one of the few who didn’t fall head over heels in love with the first ‘How to Train Your Dragon’, back in 2010. I liked the film, I really did, and my kids loved it, but for me, 2010 had a slew of much better animated films to swoon over. Obviously, there was the Oscar winning ‘Toy Story 3’, but I also found both ‘Despicable Me’ and ‘Tangled’ to be better films than ‘How to Train Your Dragon’. Maybe it’s because I don’t have an animal, but then again, I’ve had them all throughout my childhood, so it’s not like I couldn’t relate at all.
Regardless of my apathetic stance on the first film, I must admit that seeing the second one in the theaters made me kind of excited. I was a real fan of the visual scope of the original, and seeing that played out on the big screen seemed appealing. I also love Cate Blanchett, and she was a surprising addition to the voice cast; one that I was happy to see there. My kids were also older, and I love seeing their excitement bubble over at the theater, and if the film was at least halfway entertaining and exciting then I’ll have a good time.
For some weird reason my kids wound up seeing this in the theater without me and I was left at home.
|"I can see that guy completely underwhelmed from way up here..."|
So, I’ve finally seen this. I hate that I wanted to love this far more than I actually did, and while my kids are hollering in the seat next to me and my friends and my wife and all saying how much they like this better than the original, I found myself horribly underwhelmed and thinking to myself that, while I didn’t love the original, at least I liked it. I mean, I guess I liked ‘How to Train Your Dragon 2’, sort of, but it all just felt so…mediocre.
For me, ‘How to Train Your Dragon 2’ is a case of trying too hard to say something that it ultimately doesn’t say and working too hard to force emotional sentiment that never makes good on the buildup and winds up being anti-climactic. Yeah, it’s a very beautifully animated film. It has the same sharp edits that made the first one soar with excitement. It has a beautiful score that laces each scene, and the final battle is big and bold and stunning to watch; and yet it never really felt satisfying. The subplot about family and the reunion between mother, father and son felt like a tacked on emotional subplot that didn’t get the needed development. This is all proven when a certain tragedy strikes and it’s handled with such nonchalance that my heart literally felt nothing; and this is coming from someone who has openly admitted to crying at everything!
This all just felt so hollow.
|"Just one bite and it'll all be over..."|
I know that I’m in a clear minority here, but I really expected something more, and as the weeks have passed since I actually saw this, I’m becoming less and less taken with it to the point where I’m really disappointed that it didn’t succeed in being something special, something that it could have been. It has heart and it has excitement and it has a story and yet it all feels so lazily constructed and forced. It never feels easy or effortless.
It feels like no one cared.
And LOL at Djimon Hounsou once again being hired to scream a lot. What happened to this guy’s career? It’s a pity, really.
|"I shall scream in that direction, and then probably over there too."|
I give this a C-. Oscar will most likely bite, nominating this for Best Animated Feature, but despite the nice reviews, it isn't winning this year. In fact, I wouldn't be entirely surprised if this wound up being this year's 'Monsters University' and actually got snubbed the nomination.