‘How to Train Your Dragon 2’ Early Reviews

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HTTYD2 ‘How to Train Your Dragon 2’ Early Reviews

How to Train Your Dragon, the heartfelt coming of age tale about a boy and his dragon, was considered by many to be the best Dreamworks animated film to date, when it released back in 2010. It was also the most successful at the box office outside of the studio’s Shrek franchise and one of our favorite movies of the year. As such, the movie’s sequel became one our most anticipated films of 2014.

Celebrating DreamWorks Animation’s 20th anniversary, How to Train Your Dragon 2 held its first public screening at the Cannes Film Festival. Now that reviewers from all around the world have seen the sequel, does it live up to the all the buzz surrounding its release? For the most part, yes.

Set five years after the original, How To Train Your Dragon 2 follows the story of returning heroes Hiccup and his dragon Toothless as they explore the world and chart new territories around their homeland of Berk. When the friends stumble upon a cave full of dragons – and the mysterious Dragon Rider – they find themselves in the middle of a larger conflict between humans and dragons.

Written and directed by Dean DeBlois (How To Train Your Dragon), How To Train Your Dragon 2 stars Jay Baruchel (This Is The End), Gerard Butler (Olympus Has Fallen), Craig Ferguson (Brave), America Ferrera (The Good Wife), and Cate Blanchett (The Monuments Men).

As the centerpiece of a dragon-centered trilogy, How to Train Your Dragon 2 is tasked with believably extending what felt like a standalone film and bridging the gap between its predecessor and the upcoming finale to the series. Additionally, the sequel must live up to How to Train Your Dragon in terms of story, heart, and box office reception.

how to train your dragon 2 cate blanchett feature ‘How to Train Your Dragon 2’ Early Reviews

Overall, the critics seem to agree that How to Train Your Dragon 2 will actually pull off a successful animated sequel and please fans of the original film (click the links for the full reviews):


If you think training Vikings to coexist with dragons sounds tough, try following up an iconic coming-of-age story within the halls of a publicly traded animation studio. The pressures to make a giant four-quadrant monstrosity must be enormous, and yet, like his unflappable hero Hiccup, ‘How to Train Your Dragon 2′ writer-director Dean DeBlois has prevailed, serving up DreamWorks Animation’s strongest sequel yet — one that breathes fresh fire into the franchise, instead of merely rehashing the original. Braver than ‘Brave,’ more fun than ‘Frozen and more emotionally satisfying than so many of its live-action counterparts, ‘Dragon’ delivers.


With this second film in the series, Dean DeBlois (who both wrote and directed the movie) has turned this into the most exciting overall property that DreamWorks has, live-action or animated. The film has an immediate confidence, and they don’t spend much time trying to explain the first film. This is a sequel that has its own story to tell and that gets right down to it, and it expands on the ideas from the first film, but in a way that tells a thematically satisfying and complete story. In other words, this is how franchises are supposed to work.

HTTYD2 fly ‘How to Train Your Dragon 2’ Early Reviews

According to the reviews, How to Train Your Dragon 2 especially excels at creating a world in which dragons live alongside humans. While the original film primarily existed in the land of Berk, the sequel takes viewers along for Hiccup and Toothless’s journey outside the only home they’ve ever known to explore new territories, discover new dragons, and experience an exciting adventure:

The Telegraph

With Disney in the ascendant, DreamWorks are struggling to keep pace, and there’s nothing here that can hold a candle to that studio’s recent trio of perfectly peachy princess pictures, which culminated last year (and is still culminating, really) in the wonderful ‘Frozen.’

But the action sequences here are armrest-gripping fun, and you only wish DeBlois and his animators had been even more confident; held their shots even longer; allowed us to enjoy the whistle of the wind and the curve of the dragons’ flight paths without hurriedly cutting away to another angle, and another, and another. When the film flies, it soars.

Total Film

Darker, more emotionally complex and with suitably upped spectacle, it’s easily DreamWorks’ most mature and accomplished film yet. Like its predecessor (in which Hiccup and Toothless were both maimed during the finale) this is a universe that has real stakes and consequences, and as such the emotional gutpunches are all the more affecting.

That’s not to say it’s in any way all doom and gloom – as with its predecessor, ‘How to Train Your Dragon 2′ nails the grin and envy-inducing wonderment of living in a world in which you can become besties with an adorable cat/dog-like pet dragon.

how to train your dragon 2 ‘How to Train Your Dragon 2’ Early Reviews

In comparison to other animated sequels, some critics felt How to Train Your Dragon 2 does not stack up to those from Pixar or Disney. Though it may not be as good as animated films or sequels from other studios, How to Train Your Dragon 2 is one of the better movies released by DreamWorks. Still, despite fantastic animation and the continuing story of beloved characters, the sequel fell a little short for some critics:

The Playlist

The bad news is that it’s more of a ‘Kung Fu Panda 2′ than a ‘Toy Story 2′ in terms of animated sequels, but the good news is that it’s still a fairly decent film, if a decided step down from its predecessor….Few fans of the original are likely to be truly disappointed, and the film is certainly in the top tier of the studio’s output. It’s just a shame that it doesn’t quite have the same beating heart as its predecessor.


…Ultimately this installment, despite its breath-sucking spectacle, is sometimes more of a taxing assault course than a playful training session. Crowded with incident, frame-edge details and extra characters, and considerably scarier and more traumatic to boot, it may all prove a little too rich for the youngest of filmgoers, that key demographic which has kept the franchise fresh in the memory since 2010 through repeated viewings (endlessly repeated, some parents might report) on home entertainment platforms.

how to train your dragon 2 poster2 ‘How to Train Your Dragon 2’ Early Reviews

Film sequels, especially animated film sequels, can be tricky to pull off. Add in the fact that How to Train Your Dragon 2 is coming four years after its original and ages its main characters from teenagers to young adults and it would be easy to see how DeBlois may have struggled with creating a sequel that appeals to children, teenagers, young adults, and adults alike.

However, while How to Train Your Dragon 2 may feel a bit old for its youngest viewers, the original was also darker than most animated movies, but that helped the older audience members relate to the real-life consequences of the film. From these early reviews, it seems clear that fans of the original film will find just as much to love within the story, the characters, and action set-pieces in How to Train Your Dragon 2.

Are you excited by the favorable early reviews for How To Train Your Dragon 2? Do you think the sequel will be able to live up to the original? Let us know in the comments (and look out for Screen Rant’s official review when the film opens in U.S. theaters)!


How To Train Your Dragon 2 flies into theaters on June 13, 2014.

Follow Molly Freeman on Twitter @mollyrockit
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  1. I may make this part of a 2bl feature for me @ the movies; X-men DOFP & then stroll over to HTTYD 2 to lead me into the evening.

    Then I’ll come home & watch MOS again because, well, I just bloody love it!

  2. If it’s more like Kung Fu Panda 2 than Toy Story 2, I honestly don’t see the big problem. Yes, Toy Story 2 is that rare masterpiece, but I thought Kung Fu Panda 2 was brilliant. It upped the drama, action, and stakes to a darker and grander degree while exploring deeper into the character of Po, while covering new ground. If How to Train Your Dragon 2 is another Kung Fu Panda 2, than that’s fantastic news.

    • Agreed, I LOVE Kung Fu Panda 2! To me dreamworks latest movies, Kung Fu Panda 1/2, How To Train Your Dragon & Rise of the guardians, have all been better than all the pixar movies that came out after Toy Story 3!

  3. Sometimes I care about reviews. Other times I just know I’m going to go see a movie anyway. This is one of the latter times as I fell in love with the first movie, religiously watch the series on cable, and am in love with the world created here. I AM glad the reviews are favorable, and the “negative” reviews excite me more. This isn’t Disney, I haven’t seen Toy Story 2, wasn’t a big fan of Frozen and will watch Kung Fu Panda 2 over and over. I like the broader tales that Dreamworks does – feeding us children of all ages. I am watching this movie because I love the story and even moreso the characters.

    • I think this will be A good Successor. It’s not Like Disney/Pixar. I just hope they Reach 1billion Dollars not Disney.

  4. The problem with most, if not all, Dreamworks animated movies when compared to Disney/Pixar, is that their movies is lacking with heart. The first How to Train is different, that’s why, at least for me personally, it worked much better than the other titles. Hope this one delivers at least in the same level as well :D

    • I thought Kung Fu Panda 1 & 2 were extremely heartfelt.

  5. I am going first and foremost for the CGI. They look amazing. I hope there are new soft/techniques used. Can’t wait!

  6. The first one nudged out The Incredibles as my favorite animated film,the last 10 minutes are some of the most satisfying on film ever,if the sequel is only half as good as the original,it will still be great.

  7. Okay, am I really the only one who thinks Frozen was a decent but unspectacular movie? It seem like every current, past and future animation is getting compared to it, yet I can’t see why. It’s not particularly strong in terms of visuals and the story and characters never go beyond okay.

    I must be missing something extremely obvious.

      • Whoa, whoa, whoa. So what is your point? People are desperate for an animated film so they just watched Frozen with a blank head?

      • What the heck is with the Frozen comparisons?! You can say something nice about How to Train Your Dragon 2 WITHOUT bringing in the last big hit.

    • I totally agree. The story wasn’t compelling, I was a little bored during “Frozen”, because it was only about songs and (at least I) couldn’t get really into the plot. HTTYD though is one of my fav movies all time and I will definitely watch it in the cinema.

  8. Oh screw off The Telegraph, Frozen was average.

    • I guess your word is God and the opinions of others who disagree with you (which happen to be many others) are wrong. Smart thinking there

    • Below that IMO. (If I’m allowed that opinion!?)

      • dragons could have been better animated here they are not what is required cute and frightening at the same time except night fury but awesome movie

  9. I can say I’m really looking forward to this. I love the first movie, and will watch it repeatedly, which is not something I’m known to do with many films at all. KungFu Panda is another one. I really liked the sequel to that because it expanded the story of the first movie, not just tried to “repeat what the creators thought made the first one great” syndrome that every sequel apparently “must” follow.

    I see this isn’t following such a formula either and that’s great.

    PS. I do not understand all the love for Frozen. It was cute and all the first time, but I don’t even see myself watching it ever again. It was rather bland when you sit down to think about it and honestly I thought Tangled was actually a better effort.

    I used to be a big Pixar fan too but I admit, partly no thanks to Disney I’m sure, they are getting bland and repetitive. Dreamworks is finally looking to get ahead in this race.

    • I totally agree. I bought “Frozen” after all the hoopla about it being so good and making more money than any other animated film. I thought it was pretty poor. It had ONE good song and some of the animation was very dodgy. As for the story and characters…sheesh. “Tangled” was a great film. Far, far better than “Frozen” IMO.

      • Frozen is more fun than How to train your dragon 2.

        • But Frozen didn’t have dragons.

    • You’re not alone there. Tangled had a worse soundtrack of course, because Frozen was more of a musical, but all in all, Tangled was a real adventure full of funny dialogues and situations. Frozen had catchy songs and it’s the only better thing about that movie.

  10. i really didnt expect that… i really thought this movie was going to be terrible. i remember seeing a trailer for it over a year ago. i remember the first came out the same year as toy story 3 and thats the only reason dreamworks best animated movie didnt get the oscar

  11. The reviews sounds good, but is the sequel really connected to the Dragon animated series, or will it skip the show?

    I really liked Toothless and Hiccup’s bond in the original, but the animated series further cemented it for me, and it would be nice if the series was connected to the movies.

    Toothless and Hiccup’s pet/creature friendship ranks 3rd in my book, just behind Hedwig & Harry’s which ranks 1st (from the books, it was OK in the movies) and Blackjack & Percy’s which ranks 2nd (from the books, obviously).

    It may be cool if you guys made a list of your favorite creature/pet’s friendship with the protagonist, who need not be human. :P

  12. i love this series and it shouldnt be difficult to pick up on the second movies time gap.. its all done through the t.v. series on cartoon network season 1 and 2 granted that leaves maybe 2 years of speculation but the last season of dragon riders helps out in knowing whats up in the 3rd movie. I cant freaking wait till next week!! X)

  13. This is Jack frost × hicccup dragon is take one go?

  14. Rise of the guradiuns tv 2015?!
    Dream works dragon is jack-frost. %?

  15. [major spoilers alert!]

    i am HUGELY dissapointed in the alpha male! it died too early! at least make it so we got to watch the alpha male in action more! why didn’t it even breath freeze when it was fighting?!! and hiccups shouldn’t be tied down to a village too soon. he was exploring the dragon world! why didn’t they make it so the alpha was majorly hurt but was a backup fighter for toothless.

    and as an alpha male, how can toothless feed all the dragons with such small mouth?? an alpha male should be able to make it rain fish for the dragon! that was the most important part of the movie!

  16. OK, I saw it and while it was pretty to look at and somewhat humorous, the darker business took the edge off the fun part of it for me. I really don’t think younger kids (target audience) are going to warm up to the sequence of events in this plot. FOr me, at any rate, it was a ‘miss.’

  17. How To Train Your Dragon 2 was a disappointment. Plot threads unnecessarily violent and heartbreaking left me crying in the seat and unable to enjoy the rest of the film. Franchise has been ruined for me and I don’t know if I will bother to see the 3rd movie. I definitely will not be buying HTTYD 2 when its released on DVD.

  18. Pathetic. They must have been using some kind of a template to write this one. It’s so painfully unimaginative and riddled with depressing hackneyed tired moves. Primitive portrayal of characters, score pervaded with ridiculous chest-thumping bombastic tunes and some perfectly Bollywood-esc scenes thrown in for good measure (“Raj, I’m your mother…”, seriously?). Add to this the same one-on-one standoff in the final showdown closely following the lines of the original movie with all of the main characters just standing there waving pom-poms and ready to give that big heart-warming final cheer. Oh, and then the hero kisses the chick … Definitely a fiasco. For preteens only…

    • Yeah, you sum up my feelings exactly. What a disappointment. And all those Rafiki recyckeld scenes…It should be named “How to make hit movie without thinking too much of plot – the template” or “Don’t bother with original plot – they’re going to buy tickets anyway”

  19. Just saw the movie with my 2 kids (their key demo) and we all loved it. I enjoyed the first movie, but didn’t think it was great. This latest installment was way beyond my expectations. My expectations were set pretty low since my kids and I don’t enjoy the tv series. This movie was enjoyable, and though some items didn’t make sense, like how toothless became the alpha, but the larger dragon didn’t stay to be under his control (though all dragons are under the control of the alpha). Overall if you want a movie that will entertain your kids, as well as yourself, this is a pretty good choice.

    • Toothless wasn’t doing the slit-eyes thingy – he wasn’t in control of the bewilderbeast because he wasn’t in control of anyone; the other dragons were rallying to his cause.

  20. Amazing 3-D. The relationship is better than ever and the rendering of toothless is beyond incredible. Also the new Dragon storm cloud jumper might be every bit as fun as toothless and their relationship is hilarious. That said the dark turns this film takes seriously threatens the life of the franchise in many many deeply disturbing Waze and I hope they correct course and a third and or fourth film because the plot twist it happened here seemed gratuitous and cruel and they did not make for a better story they just made for a more traumatic experience