*** out of ****
The computer animated How to Train Your Dragon 2 is that rare sequel that actually expands on its characters and story. Is it as good as the first one? No, it doesn't reach the same exhilarating heights as the original, but it comes close.
Vikings and dragons now live harmony and all Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) wants to do is fly through the clouds on his pet Night Fury dragon, Toothless, with reckless abandon. Hiccup's father (Gerard Butler), however, wants his son to become a responsible leader. Before father and son can come to terms an evil wizard (Dijimon Hounsou) enters the fold, who is able to master dragons to create his own dragon army. Hiccup has a plan to talk some sense into this vile man. On his journey, though, Hiccup, meets a mysterious and peaceful dragon whisperer (Cate Blanchett).
Now, the middle does lag a bit, and the villain is fairly one-note, but what makes the movie work is that it has much on its mind. Dragon 2 enters darker territory like loss and abandonment. Heavy thoughts for an animated film, but the best of them, like Bambi (1942)or Toy Story 2 (1999), do have deep issues to ponder.
One of the many returning elements for this sequel is composer John Powell, who delivers inventive variations on his original score. His music compliments the visuals very well. Speaking of visuals, this is a very colorful movie with dragons every color of the rainbow. And they look great in 3-D.
So, chalk this one up as a sequel that doesn't disappoint.