How To Train Your Dragon 2 is one of the most anticipated films of 2014, and why shouldn’t it be? Back in 2010, How To Train Your Dragon succeeded with audiences by not only being closer in tone to a Disney movie than any other DreamWorks Animation film has ever been; but by also going places a Disney film wouldn’t go. After all, most Disney movies don’t involve their lead protagonist losing a limb and learning to live with said disability. In that moment, and with that ending, Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders created a film that pulled no emotional or thematic punches. But can the sequel emulate the same success that the first film achieved, even after four years?
As if to provide a direct answer to a question that was just asked, Yahoo scooped a reel of the first five minutes of the film, which says yes – it’s prepared to provide us exactly the same level of thrills and emotion. We open with something that’s going to be A LOT of fun watching in 3D: dragon racing and sheep tossing! Already, with the little dialogue provided in the dragon race, we see that the characters are not only voiced by their original actors, but they’re also more developed versions of the characters we left after the first film. (Also, the Prologue mentions that it’s been five years since the events of the first film, which seems like a great "real time" compromise between the timeframe of the first film’s release and production time.)
One thing missing from our initial sequence is our hero, Hiccup, naturally voiced once more by Jay Baruchel. While everyone else is dragon racing, he’s dragon test piloting with Toothless. Testing not only his speed, but also their bond as rider and dragon, we see a high speed flight over the water, followed by a stunt that is going to take everyone’s breath away. We end with Hiccup and Toothless clowning around and showing their latest project: a map of Berk and the surrounding territories. While most movie heroes (especially ones in Viking-centric societies) long for conquest and warfare, Hiccup is still the kid that makes maps while everyone else makes swords.
Five minute "sneak peeks" sometimes come off as unsatisfying. After all, how can you really convey a film’s tone and story in one short look that isn’t quick cut with popular music and select snaps of action? Team Dragon has proven that not only is that possible, it’s also an art form when you make it work. Already in five short minutes, there’s action, comedy, and emotional beats – everything this film made work before. The world has grown organically, the story has tons of potential for movement, and it just feels like it’s the right time to return to this world. It’s hasn’t been too long, nor too soon, but just the right length of time between films. Between their production strategy and the clip before you, returning director Dean DeBlois has proven that if he and his crew know anything, it’s timing.
As if there wasn’t already enough good news for fans of the fledgling film series, it has also been confirmed that an IMAX 3D release is indeed going to happen for this installment. Fans have been waiting to hear whether the series would continue its large format journey, as the first film used the scope of the IMAX screen exceedingly well. How To Train Your Dragon 2 opens on June 13th in 2D, 3D, and IMAX 3D theaters, and it’s about time!