tek's rating: ½

How to Train Your Dragon 2 (PG)
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Caution: spoilers!

This is the first sequel to How to Train Your Dragon. It came out in 2014, but I didn't get to see it until 2018. (There were also two seasons of a Dragons Cartoon Network series between movies. After that, there were several more seasons on Netflix, which I haven't yet been able to see.) The sequel is set five years after the first movie, so the main group of teenagers are now young adults. The movie begins with all of them except Hiccup competing in a dragon race. Meanwhile, Hiccup is out flying with Toothless, both to explore uncharted islands and to avoid his father, Stoick. The latter is because Stoick is planning to retire and make Hiccup the new chieftain of Berk's Vikings, which Hiccup doesn't feel ready for. After the race ends, Astrid and her dragon, Stormfly, find Hiccup (to whom she's apparently now engaged, at least according to Stoick; I have no idea if that's true or not, but at the very least they're obviously a couple). Together, Hiccup and Astrid discover the remains of a fort which had been destroyed by an ice-breathing dragon. There, they meet a group of dragon-trappers led by a guy named Eret (Kit Harington). The trappers believe Hiccup and Astrid were friends of a dragon-rider who had destroyed their fort and stolen the dragons they had caught, which they had been planning to bring to their own chieftain, Drago Bludvist (Djimon Hounsou), who is creating an army of dragons. So now they try to capture Toothless and Stormfly, but the Berkians and their dragons escape and return to Berk, to warn Stoick.

When Stoick learns that Drago is creating a dragon army, he immediately starts preparing to defend Berk, ordering all riders and their dragons to remain inside a fortress or whatever. Stoick believes war is inevitable (because of a past encounter with Drago). However, Hiccup is determined to try to reason with Drago and avoid war, against his father's orders. So he and Toothless fly away, followed by Astrid and Stormfly. They find Eret, to whom Hiccup surrenders, in order to get him to take them to Drago. But this plan is interrupted when Stoick (riding a Rumblehorn named Skullcrusher) and Gobber (riding a Hotburple named Grump) show up, along with Hiccup and Astrid's friends. Hiccup still refuses to return home, and flies off to look for Drago on his own. Stoick and Gobber will try to catch up with him, after ordering Astrid and the others to return to Berk. (Incidentally, in this movie, Snotlout and Fishlegs are both romantically interested in Ruffnut, who seems disgusted by their infatuation. And when she sees Eret for the first time, she becomes instantly infatuated with him... though he doesn't seem interested in her.)

Now, here's where the spoilers really begin. Hiccup ends up meeting a mysterious, masked dragon-rider who is riding a Stormcutter named Cloudjumper. Hiccup is soon captured and taken away, while Toothless falls into some icy water. But of course it won't be too long before Hiccup and Toothless are reunited. And then... Hiccup learns that the person who captured him is actually his mother, Valka (Cate Blanchett), who had disappeared during a dragon raid twenty years ago, when Hiccup was a baby. So everyone in Berk thought she was dead. However, just like Hiccup himself, Valka had tried to change the Berkians' minds about dragons, and make peace with them. Unlike Hiccup, she had failed to convince anyone. But in the years since then, she'd lived among many dragons, and learned a lot about them. This includes an "alpha" dragon called a Bewilderbeast, which is way huger than any other species of dragon. And all other dragons (except baby ones) will obey it. It's the ice-breather that had destroyed Eret's fort, and had also used its ice power to create an ice fortress to protect all the other dragons.

Well, eventually, Astrid and the others decide to go look for Drago, themselves, believing that Hiccup might have been captured by him by now. And um... Stoick and Gobber find Hiccup, which leads to a dramatic reunion between Stoick and Valka. But... then Drago and his army show up to attack and try to capture more dragons, and stuff. (And honestly, with all the ships and people and weapons at his command, it didn't even seem like he needed dragons.) And... he has a secret weapon that didn't really surprise me, but it led to some very dramatic events that totally did surprise me. I don't want to spoil the nature of any of that. But plenty more happens before the end.

So... yeah. I think it's an even better movie than the first one. Lots of great drama (both happy and sad). Great battles. A bit of humor. A bit of romance. And a great ending. And... probably lots of great things I'm forgetting to say (in addition to the things I'm intentionally not spoiling). Oh... and for a pacifist, I thought Valka was pretty badass.


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