Tuesday, July 8, 2014

A chief protects his own. We're going back.

I have a dog, Dodger, who's actually sitting next to me as I type this.

And when I was a kid, I had a dog named Pharaoh, then a pup named Koko. I love dags. As for my family, we've had more cats than anyone knew what to do with, and at one point, a shit-ton of obnoxious birds (by the way, f--k birds). Hell, we even had turtles for awhile, too. We also had a pair of Jackson's chameleons for a single day, but they got out/were liberated that night. Oh, and we even had a rabbit, too, though I don't think anyone ever really liked him. Or her, honestly, as no one gave a shit about it's gender. But you know what? I'd trade them all in a heartbeat for the one special creature I want the most.

I want a dragon.

How to Train Your Dragon 2 is a remarkable film, and easily on par with the best animated films of the last decade. Like a lot of the upper-tier of (so-called) kids movies, it's smart, sweet and impossibly gorgeous. But unlike many of them, this one deals with some incredibly intense emotions (while still remaining funny and breezy). But even better, it handles these feelings with a deft amount of grace and class. Up isn't the only animated movie that could make a grown man cry...

After the events of the first film, HTTYD2 brings us back to a Berk where dragons have been fully integrated into Viking society. Instead of making weapons to kill dragons, tribe chief Stoick (Gerard Butler, awesome) helps his people by making saddles to ride them. For the most part, it seems, life in Berk is good. Very good, in fact.

Soon, however, it is discovered that another clan is hunting dragons, with eyes on creating a dragon army (that's has to a band name, right? - Dragon Army?). Hiccup (Jay Baruchel, doing his thing to perfection), always the diplomat, wants to show whoever is leading this uprising that dragons can co-exist with humans. Stoick, having history with this mysterious madman, disagrees, and begins preparing the village for war.
From there, we're thrust into a fascinating sequence of events that never really let up. But for all the action and epic dragon battles, this film is grounded in a very touching story about family and friendship (not only regarding people, but our pets, too, I suppose). So much so, in fact, that my wife and I both got choked up during this one (our almost five year-old son's too hardcore for the waterworks). A lot. Not to the point that I wouldn't recommend the film, no (I'm completely enamored with it), but Alvin and the Chipmunks this ain't. Though, to be fair, I cried during that one, too, but that's only because that's what I do when tiny bits of my soul break off and die.

Speaking of things that will ultimately crush your will to live, here are the Yays and Boos. When they ask if you want to train their dragon, say no. For the love of Odin, say no.

  • That opening dragon racing number was eerily reminiscent of a quidditch match...um, which is f--king awesome, right?
  • The early scenes where Hiccup is flying with Toothless are incredibly awe-inspiring.
  • Romance. In this movie, relationships are handled so delicately, yet truthfully, you have to appreciate it. Boyfriend/Girlfriend, Husband/Wife and even the little silly thing Ruffnut (Kristen Wiig, taking it down a notch) has for the dreamy Eret (Kit Harrington, surprisingly aware of his surroundings), are all handled in the exact way you'd want in a movie aimed at kids. Nothing inappropriate or cartoonish, but still just far enough to engage and be meaningful.
  • Okay, there's a scene where Hiccup meets this masked person, and let me tell you, it's haunting. The mask, and the movements of the character are seriously hypnotic. I couldn't decide if it was the images of something beautiful, or a nightmare come to life. That mask!
  • I'm pretty sure there's nothing cooler than a room full of smiling dragons. Well, fire-smiling dragons, anyway.
  • The parents song! Wow.
  • Baby dragons. Usually, in kid's movies, baby anything are the worst kind of awful, but here, they are absolutely perfect. They don't listen to anyone!
  • The alpha dragons are awesome, especially the good one. His ice-breath was so cool. Yeah, I just did that.
  • Speaking of, the alpha battle, and all the surrounding chaos, damn near took my breath away. 
  • And finally, Toothless. It's ridiculous how much I love this cartoon dragon, but the artists and animators have truly created something special with him. If you see this and manage to not totally love him, then you are a much stronger person than I am. And a dick.
  • That kidnapping scene was intense.
  • As was the alpha's control over Toothless. Honestly, that stuff bothered me, probably freaked my son out tremendously, too.
  • And speaking of Toothless, what he does (um, unknowingly)? Man, that was intense. His reaction when he comes to made me look away it was so sad.
  • Draco Bloodfist. I really hate this guy.
  • Viking funerals. Yes, they are beautiful. But they are also somehow worse, too.
  • I really thought for a second that it was going to end on a major down note. While that would have bummed me out, it also would have been pretty exciting, too. Animated films aren't allowed to be depressing though, right?
  • And finally, the whole father/son thing was almost too much for me. I know, I know: huge bitch. I can't help it, damn it. 
On second thought, even though I still want a dragon, I'm going to keep my dog, Dodger. He's pretty much like Toothless, you know? He's cute, kind of undersized, built for speed and fiercely loyal. And well, he occasionally enjoys eating throwup. In fact, just like Toothless, Dodger can't actually fly, either. And Dodge's breath? I'm pretty sure it could end a war, too.


  1. My kids saw this without me (yes, I was pissed I didn't get to go) and they LOVED this. I really, really want to see it.

    1. I always like I'm okay with my son seeing a movie without me, but when he comes home I'm such a jerk about it.

      Though, I was all for him seeing that Mr. Peabody movie without me...hmm, that one you caught, right? Heh heh.

    2. LOL, that's alright...I had to actually catch myself before flipping out on my daughter when she blurted out about a certain death scene. I was like "I DIDN'T SEE THIS WITH YOU!!!" and she was like "it's just one part" and I was like "THE MOST IMPORTANT PART!!!!"

      Yeah, I was mean to her and had to apologize. If she had been my friend and not my daughter I may have actually socked her.

      You don't spoil movies for me.

    3. Man...I'm totally with you. Whenever they see something without me, I'm like the worst scorned lover ever. How was it? Did you like it? Hmm? Was it GREAT?

      It gets pretty intense/pathetic.

  2. lmao. You are not a 'huge bitch' See, my kid is still too young/hyper to actually sit in a movie theater, so I saw this without him and loved it. LOVED it. I still think HTTYD is the best thing Dreamworks has ever done. Even the aging of the characters was something I loved. (And like you pointed out, Ruffnut and Eret. That first encounter where she sees his muscles, that was hilarious. Great review!

    1. Thanks! Regardless of what you say, I'm still pretty sure I'm a huge bitch (seriously, I was wrecked during this one), but appreciate the sentiment. I don't really remember the first one (the younger version of my son didn't like it), outside of when Hiccup and Toothless first bond (a great scene), but I'll trust you that it was really, really good.

      But it's better than this one? Whoa.

  3. I've heard mixed opinions on this so I might have to consider seeing it when I get the chance. I remember enjoying the first one alright so who knows with this one?

    1. I say go for it. Anybody who said it's anything short of brilliant can't be trusted and should likely be eaten by Smaug.

  4. I'm so glad you liked this one, as it's a movie I'm really looking forward to.

    1. It's really, really good. I don't really remember the first one all that much, but I'd be shocked it it's better than the second. Let me know what you think when you do see it!

  5. I am very happy that you enjoyed this film and I hope that third film in this trilogy is good as the first two films were.

    1. It's going to be hard for the third one to be as good as the first two, but if anybody can pull it off, it's the people behind this one. Glad you liked it, too.

  6. With all those pets I'm beginning to think you grew up on a zoo or safari.

    I'd add the music score to the Yaays too! But this movie had everything great going for it. I'm a fan. I might even checkout the animated TV series now!

    1. I'll give you zoo no doubt. Safari sounds like something fun, and something you would actually choose to do.

      The music was great, too, I'm with you. I can't think of anything that didn't really work. If not for The Lego movie, I'd be backing this for Best Animated film, easily...