Call it sophomoritis, or creative fatigue against DreamWorks house style; whatever the case, DRAGON 2 is a step-and-a-half down from the winning start to this Boy and his Dragon franchise. Too big, too busy and overproduced in a commercially-knowing kiddie-kaffeinated manner. (Even the poster is a confused mess. Compare below with the first film's.)
The story gets split in half with young hero Hiccup finding the mom who deserted him as a child now playing foster mother to an isle of lost dragons; then he takes on a vicious warlord who uses mind control to harness his dragon army. It’s hard to know if it’s the execution or the story development that went wrong first, but surely the parental drama is misconceived. Shouldn’t Hiccup at least have some trouble forgiving mom; perhaps coming ‘round once it’s too late. Instead, the filmmakers just pile on more flights & fights. On the plus side, the facial animation is just fabulous, you can read every passing emotion on Hiccup’s brow. But the vocal cast must have smelled story problems and overcompensate, selling the big moments by clobbering us with any gag or emotion they can find. It’s still a fun watch, with a few rewarding payoffs, but must every scene be a relay race?
DOUBLE-BILL: You’ll need to see HtTYD/’10 first; then cross your fingers for the already announced (hopefully decompressed) HtTYD3.