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How to Train Your Dragon 2 is a 2014 American computer-animated action fantasy film loosely based on the book series of the same name by Cressida Cowell, produced by DreamWorks Animation and distributed by 20th Century Fox. It is the sequel to the 2010 computer-animated film How to Train Your Dragon and the second installment in the trilogy. The film was written and directed by Dean DeBlois, and stars the voices of Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, Craig Ferguson, America Ferrera, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, T.J. Miller, and Kristen Wiig, along with Cate Blanchett, Djimon Hounsou, and Kit Harington joining the cast. The film takes place five years after the first film, featuring Hiccup and his friends as young adults as they meet Valka, Hiccup's long-lost mother, and Drago Bludvist, a madman who wants to conquer the world.

DeBlois, who co-directed the first film, agreed to return to direct the second film on the condition that he would be allowed to turn it into a trilogy. He cited The Empire Strikes Back and My Neighbor Totoro as his main inspirations, with the expanded scope of The Empire Strikes Back being particularly influential. The entire voice cast from the first film returned, and Cate Blanchett and Djimon Hounsou signed on to voice Valka and Drago, respectively. DeBlois and his creative team visited Norway and Svalbard to give them ideas for the setting. Composer John Powell returned to score the film. How to Train Your Dragon 2 benefited from advances in animation technology and was DreamWorks' first film to use scalable multicore processing and the studio's new animation and lighting software.

Plot

Five years after the Viking villagers of Berk and the dragons made peace, they live together in harmony. Hiccup and his dragon, Toothless the Night Fury, discover and map unexplored lands. Now 20 years old, he is being pressed by his father, Stoick the Vast, to succeed him as chieftain, although Hiccup feels unsure he is ready.

While investigating a burnt forest, Hiccup and Astrid discover the remains of a fort encased in ice and meet a group of dragon-trappers. Their leader Eret attempts to capture their dragons for their employer, Drago Bludvist, who plots to capture and enslave all dragons into becoming his soldiers. Hiccup and Astrid escape and warn Stoick about Drago. Stoick fortifies Berk to prepare for battle. Hiccup, however, refuses to believe war is inevitable, and flies off to talk to Drago. Stoick stops him, explaining that he once met Drago at a gathering of chieftains, where Drago had offered them protection from dragons if they pledged to serve him; when they laughed it off as a joke, he had his dragons attack them, with Stoick the sole survivor.

Undeterred, Hiccup flies off with Toothless in search of Drago to try to reason with him. They instead meet a mysterious dragon-rider, who is revealed to be Hiccup's long-lost mother Valka. She explains that she, like her son, could not bring herself to kill dragons. After being carried off during a dragon raid, she spent 20 years rescuing dragons from Drago and bringing them to an island nest created out of ice by a gigantic, ice-spewing alpha dragon called a "Bewilderbeast", which is able to control smaller dragons by emitting hypnotic sound waves. Stoick and his lieutenant Gobber track Hiccup to the nest, where Stoick discovers his wife is alive. Meanwhile, Astrid and the other riders force Eret to lead them to Drago, who captures them and their dragons and, learning of Berk's dragons, sends his armada to attack the dragon nest. He also attempts to have Eret executed, but Astrid's dragon, Stormfly, saves him. A grateful Eret later helps her and the others escape.

At the nest, a battle ensues between the dragon-riders, Valka's dragons, and Drago's armada, during which Drago reveals he has his own Bewilderbeast to challenge the alpha. The two colossal dragons fight, ending with Drago's Bewilderbeast killing its rival and becoming the new alpha. Drago's Bewilderbeast seizes control of all the adult dragons. Hiccup tries to persuade Drago to end the violence, but Drago orders his Bewilderbeast to have Toothless kill him instead. The hypnotized Toothless fires a plasma bolt towards Hiccup, but Stoick pushes him out of the way and is killed instead. The Bewilderbeast momentarily relinquishes control of Toothless, but Hiccup drives Toothless away in a fit of despair over his father's death. Drago maroons Hiccup and the others on the island and rides Toothless, again under the control of the Bewilderbeast, to lead his army to conquer Berk. Stoick is given a Viking funeral and Hiccup, now having lost both his father and dragon, is unsure what to do. Valka encouragingly tells him he alone can unite humans and dragons. Inspired by her words and his father's, Hiccup and his allies return to Berk to stop Drago by flying the baby dragons, which are immune to the Bewilderbeast's control.

Back at Berk, they find that Drago has attacked the village and taken control of its dragons. With an apology, Hiccup frees Toothless from the Bewilderbeast's control, much to Drago's surprise. Hiccup and Toothless confront Drago, but the Bewilderbeast encases them in ice. However, Toothless blasts away the ice and enters a glowing super-powered state. Toothless then challenges the Bewilderbeast, shooting it in the face repeatedly, which breaks its control over the other dragons, who side with Toothless as the new alpha. All the dragons repeatedly fire at the Bewilderbeast until Toothless fires a final massive blast, breaking its left tusk. Defeated, the Bewilderbeast retreats with Drago on his back.

The Vikings and dragons celebrate their victory and Hiccup is made chieftain of Berk, while all the dragons from both Berk and Valka's sanctuary bow before Toothless as their new king. Afterwards, Berk undergoes repairs, with Hiccup feeling secure that its dragons can defend it.

Voice cast

  • Jay Baruchel as Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III, the son of the Viking chief Stoick the Vast and Valka.
  • America Ferrera as Astrid Hofferson, Hiccup's fiancee.
  • Cate Blanchett as Valka, Stoick's wife, Hiccup's long-lost mother and a dragon rescuer.
  • Gerard Butler as Stoick the Vast, chieftain of the Viking tribe of Berk, Hiccup's father and Valka's husband.
  • Craig Ferguson as Gobber the Belch, Stoick's closest friend and a seasoned warrior.
  • Christopher Mintz-Plasse as Fishlegs Ingerman.
  • Jonah Hill as Snotlout Jorgenson
  • T.J. Miller and Kristen Wiig as Tuffnut and Ruffnut Thorston, the fraternal twins.
  • Djimon Hounsou as Drago Bludvist, a ruthless warlord and dragon hunter who seeks to take over the world with a dragon army.
  • Kit Harington as Eret, a dragon trapper who sells captured dragons to Drago.

Production

Development

After the success of the first film, the sequel was announced on April 27, 2010. "How to Train Your Dragon … has become DreamWorks Animation's next franchise. We plan to release the sequel theatrically in 2013," said Jeffrey Katzenberg, DreamWorks Animation's CEO. It was later revealed that DeBlois had started drafting the outline for a sequel in February 2010 at Skywalker Ranch, during the final sound mix of the first film.The film was originally scheduled for release on June 20, 2014, but in August 2013 the release date was moved forward one week to June 13, 2014.

Director and writer Dean DeBlois promoting the film at the 2014 WonderCon

The film was written, directed, and executive produced by Dean DeBlois, the co-writer/co-director of the first film. Bonnie Arnold, the producer of the first film, also returned, while Chris Sanders, who co-directed and co-wrote the first film, acted only as an additional executive producer this time due to his involvement with The Croods. When offered the sequel, DeBlois accepted it on condition he could turn it into a trilogy. For the sequel, he intended to revisit the films of his youth, with The Empire Strikes Back and My Neighbor Totoro having the pivotal inspirations for the film. "What I loved especially about Empireis that it expanded Star Wars in every direction: emotionally, its scope, characters, fun. It felt like an embellishment and that's the goal."

The entire original voice cast—Baruchel, Butler, Ferguson, Ferrera, Hill, Mintz-Plasse, Miller, and Wiig—returned for the sequel. On June 19, 2012, it was announced that Kit Harington, of Game of Thrones fame, was cast as one of the film's antagonists. At the 2013 San Diego Comic-Con International, it was announced that Cate Blanchett and Djimon Hounsou had joined the cast; they lent their voices to Valka and Drago Bludvist, respectively.

While the first film was set in a generic North Sea environment, the creative team decided to focus on Norway this time around. Early in the sequel's development, about a dozen of them traveled there for a week-long research trip, where they toured Oslo, Bergen, and the fjords. DeBlois, together with Gregg Taylor (DreamWorks' head of feature development) and Roger Deakins (a cinematographer who served as visual consultant), then broke off from the group to visit Svalbard and see polar bears in the wild with the assistance of armed guides.

DeBlois explained that he had learned from directing Lilo & Stitch (2002) that "if you set an animated film in a place you want to visit, there's a chance you might get to go there." He had wanted to visit Svalbard for some time, after learning of its stark beauty from a couple of backpackers he met during earlier visits to Iceland to work with post-rock band Sigur Rós on the 2007 documentary film Heima.

Animation

During a visit to DreamWorks Animation in November 2013, U.S. President Barack Obamatried a motion capture camera of the kind used to capture live-action reference performance for the film.

Over the five years before the film's release,DreamWorks Animation had substantially overhauled its production workflow and animation software. How to Train Your Dragon 2 was the first DreamWorks Animation film that used "scalable multicore processing", developed together with Hewlett-Packard. Called by Katzenberg as "the next revolution in filmmaking", it enabled artists for the first time to work on rich, complex images in real time, instead of waiting eight hours to see the results the next day. The film was also the studio's first film to use its new animation and lighting software through the entire production. Programs named Premo and Torch allowed much more subtlety, improving facial animation and enabling "the sense of fat, jiggle, loose skin, the sensation of skin moving over muscle instead of masses moving together."

By the time production was complete, over 500 people had worked on the film at DreamWorks Animation's headquarters in Glendale, as well as its branch offices at PDI/DreamWorks in Redwood City and DreamWorks India in Bangalore.

Music

Main article: How to Train Your Dragon 2 (soundtrack)

Reception

Critical response

Review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoesgives the film an approval rating of 91% based on reviews from 188 critics, with an average rating of 7.80/10. The website's critical consensus states: "Exciting, emotionally resonant, and beautifully animated, How to Train Your Dragon 2 builds on its predecessor's successes just the way a sequel should."Metacritic gives the film a score of 76 out of 100 based on reviews from 44 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore during the opening weekend gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale. Audiences were a mix of 47% female and 53% male. Children and Young Adults responded most strongly, with those aged under 25 giving a grade A+.

Bill Goodykoontz of The Arizona Republic gave the film four out of five stars, saying "It seemed as if there was nowhere new to go after the first film, but this is a richer story that dares to go darker and is thus more rewarding."Peter Travers of Rolling Stone gave the film three-and-a-half stars out of four, saying "Dragon 2, like The Empire Strikes Back, takes sequels to a new level of imagination and innovation. It truly is a high-flying, depth-charging wonder to behold." Peter Hartlaub of the San Francisco Chronicle gave the film three out of four stars, saying "DeBlois, who also wrote the script, successfully juggles the multiple story lines, shifting allegiances and uncharted lands." Rafer Guzman of Newsday gave the film three out of four stars, saying "Gruesome? A little. Scary? You bet. But that's exactly what makes the "Dragon" films so different, and so much better, than the average children's fare." Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune gave the film three-and-a-half stars out of four, saying "For once, we have an animated sequel free of the committee-job vibe so common at every animation house, no matter the track record." Stephen Holden of The New York Times gave the film a negative review, saying "The story seems to be going somewhere until it comes to a halt with the inevitable showdown between the forces of darkness and the forces of light." Peter Howell of the Toronto Star gave the film three out of four stars, saying "Taking its cues as much from Star Wars and Game of Thrones as from its own storybook narrative, How to Train Your Dragon 2 breathes fire into a franchise sequel."

Claudia Puig of USA Today gave the film three out of four stars, saying "Nearly as exuberant as the original, How to Train Your Dragon 2nimbly avoids sequel-itis." Colin Covert of the Star Tribune gave the film four out of four stars, saying "The impressive part is the storytelling confidence of writer/director Dean DeBlois. He has created a thoughtful tale as meaningful for grown-ups as it is pleasurable for its young primary audience." Stephanie Merry of The Washington Post gave the film three-and-a-half stars out of four, saying "This may be the first and last time anyone says this, but if How to Train Your Dragon 2 is this good, why stop at 3 and 4?" Moira MacDonald of The Seattle Times gave the film three-and-a-half stars out of four, saying "Young and old fans of the first movie will be lining up for the wit, for the inventiveness of the characters, for the breathtaking visuals — and just the sheer fun of it all." Tirdad Derakhshani of The Philadelphia Inquirer gave the film three-and-a-half stars out of four, saying "One of this year's true surprises, the superior animated sequel not only is infused with the same independent spirit and off-kilter aesthetic that enriched the original, it also deepens the first film's major themes." Stephen Whitty of the Newark Star-Ledger gave the film two-and-a-half stars out of four, saying "This was not a sequel that anybody needed, outside of the accountants. And there's another already planned." John Semley of The Globe and Mail gave the film four out of four stars, saying "More than just teaching kids what to think about the world they're coming into, it's a rare film that encourages them to think for themselves."

Box office

How to Train Your Dragon 2 grossed $177 million in North America, and $441.9 million in other countries, for a worldwide total of $618.9 million. The film is the second-highest-grossing animated film of 2014, behind Big Hero 6, and the twelfth-highest-grossing film of the year in any genre. While How to Train Your Dragon 2 only earned $177 million at the US box office, compared to $217 million for its predecessor, it performed much better at the international box office, earning $438 million to How to Train Your Dragon's $277 million. Calculating in all expenses, Deadline Hollywood estimated that the film made a profit of $107.3 million.

In the United States and Canada, the film earned $18.5 million on its opening day, and opened at number two in its first weekend, with $49,451,322. In its second weekend, the film dropped to number three, grossing an additional $24,719,312. In its third weekend, the film stayed at number three, grossing $13,237,697. In its fourth weekend, the film dropped to number five, grossing $8,961,088.

Its $25.9 million opening weekend in China was the biggest-ever for an animated film in the country, surpassing the record previously held by Kung Fu Panda 2.

Accolades

List of awards and nominations
87th Academy Awards Best Animated Feature Dean DeBlois and Bonnie Arnold Nominated
Annie Awards Best Animated Feature Bonnie Anorld Won
Animated Effects in an Animated Production James Jackson, Lucas Janin, Tobin Jones, Baptiste Van Opstal, Jason Mayer Nominated
Character Animation in a Feature Production Fabio Lignini Won
Steven "Shaggy" Hornby Nominated
Thomas Grummt Nominated
Directing in a Feature Production Dean DeBlois Won
Music in a Feature Production John Powell, Jónsi Won
Storyboarding in an Animated Feature Production Truong "Tron" Son Mai Won
Writing in a Feature Production Dean DeBlois Nominated
Editorial in an Animated Feature Production John K. Carr Won
British Academy Children's Awards Kid's Vote - Film in 2014 How to Train Your Dragon 2 Nominated
Children's Feature Film in 2014 How to Train Your Dragon 2 Nominated
20th Critics' Choice Awards Best Animated Feature How to Train Your Dragon 2 Nominated
72nd Golden Globe Awards Best Animated Feature Film Dean DeBlois and Bonnie Arnold Won
Hollywood Film Awards Best Hollywood Animation Award How to Train Your Dragon 2 Won
National Board of Review Best Animated Feature How to Train Your Dragon 2 Won
2015 Kids' Choice Awards Favorite Animated Movie How to Train Your Dragon 2 Nominated
Online Film Critics Society Best Animated Feature How to Train Your Dragon 2 Nominated
People's Choice Awards Favorite Family Movie How to Train Your Dragon 2 Nominated
Producers Guild of America Awards 2014 Outstanding Producer of Animated Theatrical Motion Pictures Bonnie Arnold Nominated
San Francisco Film Critics Circle Award Best Animated Feature How to Train Your Dragon 2 Nominated
Satellite Awards Best Motion Picture Animated or Mixed Media How to Train Your Dragon 2 Nominated
41st Saturn Awards Saturn Award for Best Animated Film How to Train Your Dragon 2 Nominated
Saturn Award for Best Music John Powell Nominated
13th Visual Effects Society Awards Outstanding Animation in an Animated Feature Motion Picture Bonnie Arnold, Dean DeBlois, Dave Walvoord, Simon Otto Nominated
Outstanding Animated Character in an Animated Feature Motion Picture Jakob Hjort Jensen, Fabio Lignini, Stephen Candell, Hongseo Park for "Hiccup" Nominated
Outstanding Created Environment in an Animated Feature Motion Picture Sun Yoon, Liang-Yuan Wang, Ted Davis, Shannon Thomas for "Oasis" Nominated
Outstanding Effects Simulations in an Animated Feature Motion Picture Spencer Knapp, Baptiste Van Opstal, Lucas Janin, Jason Mayer for "The Battle" Nominated
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Best Animated Feature How to Train Your Dragon 2 Nominated

External Links


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