How to Train Your Dragon 2 Trailer

Official Synopsis: The thrilling second chapter of the epic How To Train Your Dragon trilogy brings back the fantastical world of Hiccup and Toothless five years later. While Astrid, Snotlout and the rest of the gang are challenging each other to dragon races (the island’s new favorite contact sport), the now inseparable pair journey through the skies, charting unmapped territories and exploring new worlds. When one of their adventures leads to the discovery of a secret ice cave that is home to hundreds of new wild dragons and the mysterious Dragon Rider, the two friends find themselves at the center of a battle to protect the peace.

I have only recently seen How to Train Your Dragon, but that doesn’t mean I am any less excited for its sequel.  The animation of the first film was amazing, and this looks as gorgeous as ever.  We saw the relationship between Hiccup and Toothless develop previously, and they have clearly grown even closer, but I don’t think it will be a big focus this time around.  I am more interested to see how the relationship between Hiccup and Astrid has developed since the end of the last film.  Even just in this trailer, it seems much of the comedic elements (both dialog and Toothless’ actions) that made Dragon so enjoyable is retained.  A good sequel raises the stakes, and this appears to do just that.  Drago seems like a worthy threat to not just the dragons, but all of Berk.

How to Train Your Dragon 2 hits theaters June 13, 2014.  Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, Jonah Hill, America Ferrera, T.J. Miller, Kristen Wiig, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse all reprise their roles from How to Train Your Dragon.  They are joined by new comers Djimon Hounsou, as Dragon, and Cate Blanchett, as Valka.

How to Train Your Dragon 2 movie poster

How to Train Your Dragon Review

How To Train Your Dragon movie posterSynopsis
Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) aspires to be a dragon hunter like his dad, Stoick (Gerard Butler), and his fellow vikings. But when he discovers an injured dragon, the two become unlikely friends and discovers that there is much more to dragons than he expected.

When my friend told me How to Train Your Dragon was probably the best animated movie ever made, my reply was, “That’s a bold statement.” I mean, how can you beat the heart of Toy Story or the cleverness of Shrek? But he insisted. After finally watching it, I must say he isn’t far off. It’s not the best animated movie in my opinion, but it is definitely up there as one of my favorites.

First off, the film starts with a bang. The opening scene does well to both set up the conflict between the vikings and the dragons, as well as introduce all the main characters. It’s a giant set piece that would give most action movie openings a run for their money. There are explosions. Lots and lots of explosions.

The producers could not have picked a better voice cast for Dragon. Baruchel’s dry tone and sarcasm fit with his character perfectly. Butler was born to play a viking. He does fantastic as both the tough dragon slayer and the loving father. Other voices include Craig Ferguson, America Ferrera, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, TJ Miller, and Kristen Wiig.

Mintz-Plasse’s character, Fishlegs, is large and round, the complete opposite of what you would expect from his voice. Fishlegs is the dragon guru, and rambles off stats Dungeons and Dragons style. Miller and Wiig play the twins Tuffnut and Ruffnut, respectively, who attempt to out-annoy each other. Ferrera voices Astrid, a girl trying to prove she is just as tough as the boys. And Snotlout, played by Hill, spends the entire movie to to impress Astrid. My favorite, though, is Fergurson’s Gobber, the one-armed, one-legged teacher who believes that trolls “steal your socks, but only the left one.”

With an ensemble of great comedic actors, it’s only natural that the dialog would be funny, too. The best stuff happens when this group is all together and they can riff off each other. They come of with some pretty clever banter. But what is even more impressive is the movie’s use of visual gags. When one of your two main characters is a mute dragon, it can be difficult to crack jokes. But Dragon proves that you don’t need words to be funny.

Animation technology is continually progressing, and it is important for animation studios to adapt and improve along with it. With that said, this film is one of the best looking animated features I have seen. What sets it apart from previous animated movies is the attention to detail and the use of lighting. Contrasts are utilized very effectively, really giving a sense of depth.

On a quick note, the score, composed by John Powell, is amazing. It adds that extra touch to an already awesome film.

If I were to have one gripe with the film, it would be the father-son dynamic between Stoick and Hiccup has been used over and over in film. Stoick is the tough dad who has a soft spot for his son; Hiccup is the physically weak kid who tries to follow in his father’s footsteps but fails to keep up with the high expectations from being his son. This is the driving force for countless movies and their success has been varied. Dragons, however, utilized this cliché to great effect, so I can’t knock it too hard.

Anyone who enjoys animated movies should check out How to Train Your Dragon. A great cast, amazing animation, and funny dialog and visual gags makes this film one of the best animated films of the last few years.


Kick-Ass 2 Review

Kick-Ass 2 movie posterSynopsis
Kick-Ass’ (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) bravery and actions inspire a new wave of masked crusaders, led by the born-again ex-mob enforcer Colonel Stars and Stripes (Jim Carrey). When Hit-Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz) is forced to retire from crime fighting, Kick-Ass joins with the new group of heroes, named Justice Forever. Seeking revenge for the death of his father, Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), renamed The Mother F**ker, forms his own group of evil. With his new evil league behind him, The Mother F**ker enacts a plan to make Kick-Ass pay for killing his dad.

Kick-Ass 2 does what good every action sequel should and ups the stakes and danger from its predecessor. This time, the villain, The Mother F**ker, is gunning directly for Kick-Ass and everyone around him. Needless to say, this causes complications in Kick-Ass’ personal life, adding to the strain of balancing high school and crime fighting. The results were pretty intriguing and gruesome.

This is not a movie for the faint of heart. I think the kill count was higher in the previous movie, but the kills were much more… um… stylized this time around. There were some interesting ways the characters found to kill, particularly the villain Mother Russia (Olga Kurkulina). My favorite kill of hers was placing a running lawnmower onto the back of a car and reversing into an oncoming car, sending the mower through the windshield. And that was probably one of the milder kills in the movie.

Much like the previous film, Kick-Ass 2 is genuinely funny. The humor does a good job of keeping the movie from becoming too dark. Moretz had some moments as a stereotypical hormone-filled teenager that came off a somewhat cheesy, but they were still funny. I expected a few more jokes out of Carrey, but unfortunately he didn’t have much screen time.

Moretz is an actress to keep an eye on in the near future. She was phenomenal. She did a great job of playing the hard-ass ass-kicker, but at the same time the sweet little high schooler trying to fit in. Few young actresses can command the screen the way she does. It’s too bad Jim Carrey renounced Kick-Ass 2, because Colonel Stars and Stripes was bad ass. Though he had a limited role, it would have been cool to see more of him.

On the other side of the law, I don’t think Mintz-Plasse was the best actor to play the central villain. The Mother F**ker is supposed to be menacing, but he doesn’t come off that way and it is hard to take him seriously. He does well in the first Kick-Ass as the kid vying for his father’s approval, but not so well as the maniacal villain. Mintz-Plasse is more suited for lighter comedic roles. It’s nice to see actors take roles outside their norm, but sometimes it doesn’t work, and this was one of those times.

Kick-Ass 2 is a good action sequel that ups the danger from the first Kick-Ass, but at the same time diving deeper into who the characters are. Over-the-top action, gruesome deaths, and non-stop laughs make for a humorously visceral experience.