How to Train Your Dragon 2 releases this June, four years after its predecessor opened in theaters to much acclaim for its quality storytelling, solid world-building, and exhilarating 3D flying sequences; depending on who you ask, certain people will tell you that How to Train Your Dragon's use of 3D during the airborne action scenes - featuring the young Viking Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel) and his dragon companion Toothless - eclipse even those of Avatar, which was released in theaters just a few months earlier.
Even more impressive spectacle along those lines have been teased in the trailers for the How to Train Your Dragon sequel thus far. A newly-released featurette for the film (see above) takes a step back to offer some additional context for everything that happens in the animated feature; as it turns out, the story in the sequel comes relatively close to picking up in real-time, as five years have passed since the events of the first movie - when How to Train Your Dragon 2 begins, that is - and life in Berk has decidedly changed.
That extends to more than just new sports which all the cool Viking kids are playing, though, as Hiccup and his peers - including the badass Astrid (America Ferrera) who seems to be all but engaged to Hiccup by this point - are now proper young adults, out exploring the world and facing challenges that come with being in your late teens - like warding off unwanted attention from potential suitors, if you're Ruffnut (Kristen Wiig). Meanwhile, dragons have become as essential to modern Berk culture as... well, just about any sort of stereotypical Viking tradition that you can think of, truth be told.
Early signs indicate that How to Train Your Dragon 2 writer/director Dean DeBlois - working sans his co-director Chris Sanders from the first movie - may have succeeded at delivering a sequel that does, in fact, evolve and progress not just the characters from its predecessor, but the larger story and themes as well. With the addition of an intimidating antagonist voiced by Oscar-nominee Djimon Hounsou (Guardians of the Galaxy), the Dragon sequel ought to deliver the goods, as far as family-friendly adventure entertainment goes.
Meanwhile, the presence of Oscar-winner Cate Blanchett's character may not only infuse the proceedings with some fresh emotional poignance, but further help with opening the doors to a deeper examination of the world of dragons. A third installment in the How to Train Your Dragon series is already in development, so here's to hoping the second chapter ends up being the (if you'll pardon the cliche) Empire Strikes Back of animated dragon adventures.
How to Train Your Dragon 2 opens in U.S. theaters on June 13th, 2014.