Now let me start by clarifying; not all of our posts will be about lizards. It just so happens that there has been an influx of reptilian-esque creatures gracing our screens of late. I promise to start reviewing films in which scaly monsters are not the central focus, or perhaps don’t even feature at all. Moving on.
The older you get the harder it is to justify going to see what is essentially a children’s film without any children with you. Luckily for me I have a younger brother who despite being 17 still shares my love for animated masterpieces (especially of the musical kind; Frozen sing-alongs are a regular occurrence in the Conway house.) Maybe it’s because these films remind us of our childhood, of Saturday nights snuggled up watching Disney films. Or maybe its because these films are just SO DAMN GOOD. ‘Family films’ are great because they are just that – for the whole family. They aren’t just children’s films aimed at children with only elements that children will enjoy. They are there to satisfy the cravings of all members of the family. Which is what makes them so enjoyable and timeless (and what makes the producers the big bucks!)
Back to the screening itself. I went to see it at the Vue in Westfield Stratford which despite being a chain not even in the centre of London it was EXTORTIONATELY EXPENSIVE. The tickets were £10 each (for a standard viewing, not 3D or ‘VueXtreme’ whatever that is) and that was for a ‘teen’ and student ticket, adult prices were even more. Then, I ordered the standard popcorn/coca-cola combo (a classic) I was told it would be also just under £9.50!! Hence why I made a spectacle of myself by demanding the attendant fill my popcorn box right to the top instead of the 3/4 full it was originally (stingy). Anyway, he agreed, hilariously claiming I would not eat all of it any way – which of course I did, because it had been a good 15 minutes since my dinner and I was starving. Anyway, to summarise, very expensive, standard seats have plenty of legroom though so it wasn’t unpleasant.
I loved the first How To Train Your Dragon so much. I would tell everyone and anyone who would listen to me to immediately go and watch it so we could discuss every fabulous element of it. Like how adorable Toothless is, and how beautiful all the animation was, how cool it would be to have a pet dragon and how utterly adorable Toothless is!!!! This wasn’t just a case of how much I loved lizards (I think this was even before the reptile obsession) but a truly great animated movie had been made, and not by Pixar or Disney. The story was original and interesting, the characters were funny and relatable, and the imagery was stunning. The sequel to the original film certainly did not disappoint. We were introduced to new characters, more gut wrenchingly emotion storylines and of course MORE DRAGONS (more dragons=happy Amelia)
I felt like the film itself was a step up in terms of animation. Shots of beautiful sweeping vistas and a variety of contrasting sceneries shows how rapidly the animation industry can evolve and enhance. I can’t seem to get hold of any good quality pictures of this to show you, but you can just trust me that it was stunning.
The story followed the pattern of hostility towards to lizards *cough* dragons except this time it wasn’t the inhabitants of Burke (who embraced Toothless and the gang at the end of the first film) but a group of pirate-esque men ruled by a domineering (and clearly fearful) warlord-looking man. Voiced by Djimon Hounsou, he was a pretty scary dude. Hiccup’s main storyline involved an emotional reunion with someone from his past. I don’t want to spoil anything but lets just say, there’s tears. Lots of tears. Rivers of tears. Must leave the cinema on account of all the tears drowning the fellow audience members. Nevertheless his character has developed into one I could relate to. He is 20 years old and, despite everything that happened in the first film, still does not know where he belongs. Without spoiling anything, it’s a pretty safe bet to assume all is right by the end though.
And of course the dragons themselves. Toothless is back and he’s cuter than ever. The animators have made him even more animalistic this time around, adding canine quirks to his behaviour to make him more relatable as a pet, not just a scaly reptile. He’s just amazing, and I want one (he’s been on my Christmas list for 3 years running, I’m not joking). After meeting a new central character we learn more about the Dragon history and how they interact, notably how the react around the ‘alpha’ dragon. If you are familiar with Greek or Roman mythology (or like me, have a brother who used to be obsessed, I blame Percy Jackson) you can see the similarities between the new ‘alpha’ dragons and the titans, so if alpha is to titan then the other dragons are the Gods and Goddesses. I don’t want to say too much else because I will give away the story line/cry but basically its great, its beautiful, its scary, its sad, its lizard-y. If you haven’t seen it go and “take your cousin to the cinema” to see it or, like me, stroll confidently into your local multiplex and sit down and enjoy every moment of such a great sequel. Bring tissues.
I want to give this film a Dinosaur rating, I really do, but after speaking to my brother extensively on the issue I have concluded that while the film was great, the visuals spectacular, it didn’t touch me so unexpectedly like the first one did. I went in to the dark screen expecting greatness, and greatness is what I got. The first film was magical for me, because I had no expectations. So I am giving this film a Komodo Dragon, but like, a really big one. With less Komodo and loads of Dragon.