This is Berk. If that sounds familiar to you, it’s probably because you’ve already heard it spoken in monologue at least twice, once at the beginning of my debut film and once at the end. A useful narrative framing device, it clearly illustrated the progression of myself and my thick-headed Viking colleagues from brutish ignorance to peaceful understanding. At the opening of How To Train Your Dragon, I spoke of my village’s many hardships, citing the dragons as perennial pests and a blight upon our livestock, but at the end of How To Train Your Dragon, I spoke from maturity of my village’s many strengths, referring once again to the dragons not as our mortal enemies, but as our greatest friends and companions. If you go to see How To Train Your Dragon 2, you’ll get to hear me talk about Berk and dragons twice more, except that this time my monologues stem from the exact same perspective in each instance, rather nullifying the purpose of having such a revelatory and reflective monologue at all. But how else am I to wrap things up in a movie where nothing really changes other than the emergence and predictable downfall of a generic, one-sided villain-character?
|I swear, this is just like the real deal.|
In any case, they’ll be begging you for their own nightfury, deadly nadder, and zippleback action figures long before you’ve left the cinemas, which is almost as ominous for your wallet as the latest Spyro the Purple Dragon video game but shows the filmmakers must have done something right in the visual department. You’d probably do better to get them John Powell’s musical score instead, which draws too much perhaps on the themes we already know and love but still introduces some beautiful choral sections and soaring pieces to accompany the many creative and cathartic flying sequences featured in the film (one of my kindred trainers has mastered some kind of dragon-surfing by now, an eye-popping and elegant ritual in which you literally dance across your dragon’s wings and back instead of assuming the more functional position and just sitting on it).
* The particular fighting move that the protagonist struggles to execute for the first and second acts until the critical moment when he really needs it, at which point he magically pulls it off perfectly to beat the bad guy and save the day. See driving backwards and turning right to go left in Cars, repelling the knife in Snow White and the Huntsman, subduing your opponent with his surroundings in Batman Begins, thrusting yourself through space in Gravity, generating a forcefield in The Incredibles, shooting the forcefield in Catching Fire, doing the wooshi finger-hold in Kung Fu Panda, and stopping the bullets in The Matrix (technically not trained for by Neo but foreshadowed by Morpheus in dialogue).
* Two guys constantly competing for the hand of the same girl, who isn’t interested in either of them.
* A happy, time-consuming moment of singing and dancing and levity to relieve tension before a chaotic battle scene that ends in tragedy.
How To Train Your Dragon 2 is a story that needed to be told, if only for the sake of immortalizing our turbulent history in film. It’s not nearly as inspiring or relevant to cultures outside our own as HTTYD1, but it still comes as a timely warning about the perils of passing off our real enemies as our fantasy friends. I just wish it were better told. For all the staggering trials we’ve endured and overcome, I only feel that Berk deserves far more than this mediocre sequel-on-rails. After all, how much greater are the problems we’ve surmounted than those of our neighbors? The Danes have bested their Grendel, the hobbits have toppled their Sauron, and the amigos have vanquished their El Guapo, but we… we have bridled monsters, we have saddled demons, we have domesticated giants… we have mastered…
End review of the glorified Saturday morning cartoon.
More trailer reviews (by the Author)
“The Giver” – Good gosh, what the hell did Hollywood do with the most thought-provoking and deceptively simple young-adult novel of the last twenty years? Why are the starfighter thingies chasing Jonas across the desert and sucking him up in their tractor beams like this is an action movie? Why is Meryl Streep’s Obligatory Antagonist Character leading a conspiracy among the evil bureaucrats to root out troublemaking freethinkers like Jonas who “pose a threat” to the community? Why’d the a-holes behind this even bother adapting a novel so lauded for its subtlety and philosophical depth if they were only going to pervert it into another gosh-damned Divergent clone?
See? It is a frickin Divergent clone!
The Penguins of Madawhoha? – Because it wasn’t enough for them to get two sucky sequels from the idea-starved Dreamworks machine and an occasionally clever show on Nickelodeon. These flightless fowl are creepy. They need to die.Home – I take it back now, mmm mmm mmm. Apparently Dreamworks is capable of having an original idea, if talking alien blobs, Seussian candy-color art styles, and fart jokes are original ideas. This is possibly the least enticing piece of marketing I’ve seen in my life. So mind-numbingly stupid…
Dolphin Tale 2 – I reckon I should be partial towards this one because I’m personally familiar with the young lady who stars in it, but I really have no idea how they’re going to sustain the crushing weight of so much animal cuteness and audience tears through a second picture… which is all the first movie was in a nutshell.Annie – Why is Django Unchained Foxx in the movie? Was this supposed to be funny? Heartwarming? I don’t get it.
Firefighting Rescue Planes: a Cars Adventure in 3D – This would be the sequel… to the spinoff… to the sequel to the movie that was made to sell toy cars? See Penguins above.** Insufferable allusion not approved by the chief editor.
* Drago Bludvist. I had to look it up in the encyclopedia dragonica.
* Drago Bludvist. I had to look it up in the encyclopedia dragonica.
*** (From the Author) In the weeks leading up to Dragon’s release, there was no small furor on conservative websites over a scene that allegedly outed Stoic’s right-hand man Gobber as a homosexual. Said coming-out moment is really nothing more than a throwaway self-deprecating comment Gobber makes about the “one other reason [he never married]”. This, of course, can be interpreted as referring to many different things, most likely his physical handicap or natural Viking repulsiveness, and hardly constitutes a Hollywood conspiracy to foist a secular ideology on young audiences, as was Paranorman or Happy Feet, the former featuring an openly gay character on top of a brazenly gay message and the latter being a barely concealed, allegorical thrashing of traditional, Judeo-Christian values. The only reason this line stirred up any controversy was because director/writer Dean DeBlois, clearly not the shrewdest cookie in the marketing jar, tried to force feed us the “right meaning” of Gobber’s joke for no conceivable reason other than to win his Caring Liberal merit-badge. The whole outrage seems even more overblown when one considers that the line wasn’t even in the original script but was actually ad-libbed by voice actor Craig Ferguson during production. Like the whole “Dumbledore is gay” incident of several years back, it doesn’t make any sense or improve the story whatsoever, but like the Dumbledore incident, it says far more about the author’s worldview than that of the work itself.