If you have been following my reviews, you know I believe major animation studios can do absolutely no wrong, and such is the case of How to Train Your Dragon 2, a visually stunning and emotionally charged children’s film that is incredibly charming in so many ways, and even the several problems I had with it are quite endearing.
As good as recent animated classics like Frozen and Tangled were, there was something I noticed about them – the stories and animations were phenomenal, but the characters seemed pretty clinical and lacked a lot of character. What I loved about How to Train Your Dragon and the sequel was that there was a lot of work done to give the characters a very specific look – their appearances were full of character and very offbeat style, which is reminiscent of Dreamworks’ most iconic character – Shrek. The animation overall was grandiose and majestic, and was never excessive. It was incredibly detailed and it was visually fascinating to see all the meticulous precision put into the animation – it never feels like we are watching an animated film, and to be honest, if there weren’t dozens of dragons floating around, one could be excused for momentarily lapsing into belief that this is real.
In regards to the voice-cast, this is not the greatest list of names assembled for a major animated film, but it is still very impressive. Standouts for me would be Cate Blanchett, who even though was thrown across our screens and newsfeeds this past awards season, never seems to be the subject of fatigue. She was incredibly gentle and mystical as Valka, and juxtaposed her hard and fiery performance in Blue Jasmine. I am a self-professed super-fan of Craig Ferguson, and anything he is in is automatically on my “must-watch” list. He does the best with what he is given here, and certainly elevates a seemingly boring character into a very funny one.
I don’t think this film will stand as the best animated film of the year (sorry, but that distinctiom goes to the boundary-breaking Lego Movie). However, it is a beautifully made and very sweet film that is both funny and heartwarming.