Thu June 19, 2014
'Dragon' Is Enjoyable, Despite Lack Of Surprises
How To Train Your Dragon 2 is a typically enjoyable, superior animation with most of the usual pluses of the form and only a few typical minuses. It's conventional in story and thin on characterization, pictorially beautiful, generally comic, and modest as to any ambition beyond entertainment.
Visually, it is first rate. The scenery is gorgeous, with blue sky and sunshine and green trees and sparkling water and a generally Edenic beauty, contrasted with occasional darkness and jaggedness representing negative forces that are perhaps less evil than merely misguided. There's a good deal of travel from one exotic place to another, allowing indulgences by the landscape artists.
The plot has the virtue of allowing this, but is frankly just another variation on quests and successions of captures and escapes and battles, and more captures and escapes and battles, but the battles are exciting, and since they do not require real people to act them out, they're less dependent on quick cutting than live-action battles tend to be.
There is gratifyingly little gore and plenty of rather antiseptic violence, but, unusually for these days, a major character dies and remains dead-- though another major character is revived. Death as a temporary inconvenience is not as annoying here as it frequently is in action fantasies.
As has been true from the very beginning of costume romances, characterizations are excellent in the supporting cast, but a little flat in the romantic leads. Errol Flynn used to be able to make romantic costume heroes interesting, but Tyrone Power usually couldn't. And our hero is pretty much a Tyrone Power type, despite some effort to show him maturing from adolescent to battle leader.
Our heroine is practically a Hummel figurine, but we don't see a lot of her. Support people are more colorful, but, as usual, the animals are most memorable.
All pretty standard, but fast-moving, droll if not hilarious, How To Train Your Dragon 2 lets you relax and enjoy, which is enough.