Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Matt Bellamy versus How To Train Your Dragon 2

I really do wonder how kids' minds are affected by the impressive state of animation these days. I was raised on classic, hand-drawn Disney animation, which to my young brain was a fantastic world that I was always keen to disappear into.

When I see a movie like How To Train Your Dragon 2 in theaters, I am absolutely blown away, and even overwhelmed at times by the stunning, and let's be honest, brilliant technical wizardry on display. I can't even fathom how these images are made, how long it must take to complete a single frame, or the army of amazingly talented people who work around the clock getting it all done--it's mind boggling! The kids these days who are now being raised on movies like this though, do you think they even realize how special these films are? Again, from a purely technical standpoint, the entertainment being released for today's youth is spectacular, and I hope they appreciate it.

How To Train Your Dragon 2 is one of the most gorgeous films I have ever seen, and luckily it's not all on the surface either as top to bottom this is a giant achievement for DreamWorks Animation.

The story picks up a few years after the events of the original film as the Viking village of Berk has now accepted dragons into their daily lifestyle, and live in peace with these majestic, and sometimes clumsy beasts. Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) has adjusted to his handicap which was dealt to him in the first movie, and his relationship with Astrid (America Ferrera) has only deepened and matured however it's his relationship with his dragon, Toothless, that is most important to him. Toothless is an extremely rare breed of dragon called a Night Fury, capable of incredible speed, and although the name of his breed makes him sound ferocious, he's really more like a puppy dog except with a far larger, and dangerous tail to happily wag.

Hiccup's burly father, and village chief, Stoick (Gerard Butler) would be perfectly content if his son would settle down with Astrid, father some children, take over as chief some day, and take part in the odd dragon game here and there but Hiccup has come a long way since the events of the first movie, and he seeks a life of adventure, and exploration. Now that the inhabitants of Berk have made friends with the dragons, and have mastered, for the most part, Viking flight, it's much easier to map out the world around them, and to visit previously unseen lands. I don't want to spoil further plot points, or developments so I'll just say that Hiccup discovers something, and someone that dramatically alters the course of the film, and the characters within--you'll just have to go off that!

What's refreshing about a movie like How To Train Your Dragon 2 is that it does not seem interested in franchise building which, when it comes to "sequelitis" these days, that's all we see. There are no hints of what might come down the road, there are no mysterious characters pulling strings in the background only to have their intentions revealed at the very end, to be explored in future instalments. No, this is an entirely self-contained movie that serves to advance the characters, and their growth, while also telling a heck of an entertaining story. I really wish more series' of movies could understand this, instead of teasing us with red herring, after red herring--that's the business of Hollywood though, give 'em a taste, and keep them coming back for more. That may be a cynical way of looking at things but in an age where it seems like every weekend there is either a sequel, a prequel, or a remake being released, it sure is exciting to see a film of one of those types actually deliver in a huge way without resorting to reminding you of its franchise roots!

There aren't exactly a glut of family-friendly films that get reviewed in The Basement so if you're a parent wondering if this is an OK film for your kids, I'd say that it would have to depends on the ages of your kids. This is not an animated comedy in the vein of Despicable Me, there are some funny moments of slapstick here and there but this is more of a full on adventure flick that happens to be gorgeously animated. Characters exhibit realistic emotions, the story goes to dark places, and there is death--quite a bit of death, actually. If you feel like your kids can handle themes like that, and are prepared for it then I can't see them not loving the heck out of this movie. If these 'Dragon' movies were released when I was a young'un I would have flipped for them, and probably somehow worn out whatever format I was watching them on at home. Remember the days of wearing out VHS tapes?? Good times...

I know it's not cheap to take the family out to the movies but this is worth it, and the 3D is spectacular. And if you're a big kid like I am who still enjoys watching animated movies, or is simply a fan of Vikings, and adventure movies? This is one not to miss. I own the first on Blu Ray, and this will stand right next to it when it's released. A Good!


  1. Is this Matt Bellamy as in the frontman of Muse?

  2. Isn't it the name of one of the DJs at that radio station...?