*A FEW SPOILERS AHEAD*
My non-nerd career, the one that helps me pay the bills, affords me the opportunity to meet with clients, in a way that needs a great amount of finesse and polish. As such, if I would like for you to feel comfortable with me, I’m going to bribe you with sweets. Like, a truckload of them. My usual go-to spot is Porto’s Bakery in LA; known for its quality and presentation, clients always know that I have certain tastes and standards that will separate me from the rest. Essentially, it’s my way of nonverbally showing that I’m classy, poised, and ready to do whatever it takes to produce something great for you.
On the off-chance that I’m having sweets for myself though, I never go to Porto’s. There’s a small family-owned sandwich shop in walking distance of my house, called the Old Towne Grinder, and it sells freshly baked chocolate chip cookies and Thrifty ice cream. I know this doesn’t sound luxurious and sexy, but these are products are simply made and enduring, to the point where it’s a different kind of experience for me. Just as enjoyable as Porto’s, but with a personally crafted touch.
This is how I feel about movies like How To Train Your Dragon 2, when people compare them to Disney movies. I know that Dreamworks doesn’t have the history and the almost mythological feel that Disney possesses, but that’s not to say that they’re not producing quality animated films. Yes, there have been some amazingly awful movies that they’ve given to the public (I’m looking at you, Shark Tale), but the company has really hit its stride in the last few years.
Very few gripes about the movie personally, just one aesthetically: I felt that the funeral scene didn’t have as much emotional impact as it should have had. Yes, it was definitely sad and poignant, but I felt that characters hashing out their problems while the boat sails into the distance took away from the sacrifice the character made. If the scenes would have been separated, I feel like the emotional resonance would have been stronger, but that’s not to say that it ruined the movie for me. It was a very small part that sort of irked me; to most people, this will be a molehill, but for me, it will be a slightly bigger molehill, not anywhere close to a mountain.
I would say that I enjoyed this movie just as much as its predecessor, if not more. I hate going into movies with high expectations, but I couldn’t help myself with this one, and it delivered in almost every moment. The visuals were stunning, the story relatable, the villain a little more terrifying than I would have liked. But what I appreciate the most is the subtlety of the storytelling approach, more specifically the relationship between dragon and dragon rider.
I absolutely love that the dragon is the mirror image of the dragon rider, and vice versa. In the first movie, Hiccup damages Toothless to the point where he can’t fly by himself, destroying one side of his tail-wing. In the final moments of the first movie, Hiccup’s leg is taken clean off, mirroring Toothless’s injury. In the second movie, Valka’s wariness to warm up to others and to travel home is seen in her dragon Cloudjumper: Cloudjumper has no interest in Toothless, but starts to warm up to him as the movie progresses. The best subtle nod to the connection between rider and dragon though, it with Drago and his Bewilderbeast. Drago’s arm was taken from him by dragons, which started his hatred of them in the first place, but when Toothless establishes dominance in the climax of the movie, he knocks off one of the tusks on the Bewilderbeast’s face, making it just as “broken” as Drago. Then, Hiccup and Toothless both move into their new roles as leaders of their people, mirroring the next stage of their lives.
An incredible journey with discovery along the way, I feel like this movie is a great vehicle for children to understand and connect with a plethora of concepts: love, leadership, death, and differing points of view, just to name a few of them. A fast-paced ride with a lot of laughs along the way, this movie is great for dates, family outings, and a night out on the town with friends. Dreamworks definitely has an enduring intellectual property with a passionate cast of storytellers and artists at the helm, and its associated television show is only going to help its star-status. Just try and make sure you get some dessert after; whether it’s from Porto’s or the Old Towne Grinder, you’ll be in for two treats that day.