Dragons are all the rage in pop culture nowadays – as well they should be. As Game of Thrones‘ fourth season gets underway, Daenerys Targaryen’s “children” are growing up fast and becoming even more dangerous; near the end of this year, meanwhile, Benedict Cumberbatch’s sinister Smaug will be back on the big screen in The Hobbit: There and Back Again. However, in between those two, we have the more cuddly variety of fire-breathing flying beast to look forward to, when Toothless returns in How to Train Your Dragon 2.
The How to Train Your Dragon sequel pick up a few years after the events of its predecessor (possibly close to real-time, e.g. four years later), with Hiccup (still voiced by Jay Baruchel) now older, smart, and more courageous than last we saw him, as he and Toothless now spend their days “exploring new worlds and charting unmapped territories.” On their latest, and biggest, adventure yet, the pair end up facing off against new enemies like the war-mongering Drago Bludvist (Djimon Hounsou), in addition to finding a new ally in the older dragon expert Valka (Cate Blanchett).
A previously-released teaser trailer for How to Train Your Dragon 2 was all atmosphere, reintroducing moviegoers to the joys of dragon-riding while also showing how Hiccup and Toothless have both matured since the original movie (as has their friendship) through almost pure visual storytelling. The subsequent full theatrical preview hinted at the heightened stakes and scale of the film (relative to the first installment), but also pulled back the curtain on a detail that might’ve been better saved for the actual movie.
As for the third (and, potentially, final) trailer, it’s the most story-oriented of the How to Train Your Dragon 2 previews yet; it examines the “heart” of the story (see: Hiccup’s repaired family), presents a good deal of humor, and offers the best tease to date of the film’s 3D elements and genuinely epic action sequences. You can watch the preview above and see all the fine details for yourself; then, after you’re done, be sure to check out the newly-unveiled official poster for the sequel, included below (click the image to enlarge):
The original How to Train Your Dragon animated feature was a very loose adaptation of the fantasy book series of the same name, authored by Cressida Cowell; by “very loose,” we mean that co-writers/directors Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders, along with co-writer William Davies (Puss in Boots), basically took the name and ran with it, spinning their own adventure narrative with coming of age elements from the source material (plus a subtext about bucking outdated traditions and overcoming prejudice).
How to Train Your Dragon 2 keeps going in that newfound direction, with DeBlois as the sole writer and director. Fortunately, much like Sanders was able to put together a charmingly idiosyncratic family adventure with his first solo project The Croods, early signs (read: trailer footage) indicate that DeBlois will prove equally successful at evolving the characters, story, and themes of the How to Train Your Dragon universe with the sequel.
How to Train Your Dragon 2 opens in U.S. theaters on June 13th, 2014.