Hero­ics take to the skies

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - MOVIES - Leigh Paatsch

HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2 ( PG)

Stars: The voices of Jay Baruchel, Dji­mon Houn­sou, Cate Blanchett, Ger­ard But­ler Di­rec­tor: Dean DuBlois

SOME films hit the ground run­ning. How to

Train Your Dragon 2 knows full well it can go one bet­ter than that. So it hits the skies fly­ing with a stun­ning aerial set- piece, fea­tur­ing rac­ing drag­ons be­ing pi­loted by young dare­devil Vik­ings.

De­ploy­ing a next- level brand of an­i­ma­tion that com­bines the vividly pho­to­re­al­is­tic with the craftily il­lus­trated, it is a knockout open­ing se­quence that im­me­di­ately wows an au­di­ence into happy sub­mis­sion.

The story picks up a few years af­ter the orig­i­nal ( a time span which hard­line HTTYD devo­tees will point out has been very well cov­ered in the TV spin- off Drag­ons: Rid­ers of

Berk).

The young Vik­ing war­rior Hic­cup ( voiced by Baruchel) and his trusty Night Fury dragon Tooth­less find them­selves locked in bat­tle with a dan­ger­ous dude named Drago ( Houn­sou).

This vil­lain­ous pirate- cum- poacher is plot­ting an end to the pro­tracted pe­riod of peace that has seen drag­ons take over from dogs as man’s best friends.

Though Hic­cup, Tooth­less and the rest of the best tribal de­fend­ers in Berk have a good chance of see­ing off Drago’s hired hench­men, there is one weapon in the en­emy ar­se­nal that could well end the hu­man- dragon al­liance once and for all.

Drago has en­slaved a dreaded Bewil­der­beast, a huge species of “al­pha dragon” that ex­hales dev­as­tat­ing shards of per­mafrost in­stead of fire.

To make mat­ters worse, Drago’s Bewil­der­beast can im­pose his will tele­path­i­cally upon all other drag­ons. The breath­tak­ing per­fec­tion of the pic­tures in

How to Train Your Dragon 2 quite rightly di­vert at­ten­tion from the im­per­fec­tions of the plot. On more than one oc­ca­sion, a feel­ing de­scends that too big a story is be­ing crammed into too small a space.

With the the­matic in­tent of the se­quel cours­ing deeper ( and darker) than be­fore, some de­vel­op­ments may not fully res­onate with the fran­chise’s kid­dly­wink fan- base.

A hand­ful of in­tense scenes may be­come a touch in­tim­i­dat­ing for young on­look­ers.

Nev­er­the­less, as far as an­i­mated ac­tion­ad­ven­ture out­ings go, How to Train Your

Dragon 2 is a solid and ex­cit­ing of­fer­ing for those to whom the fran­chise ap­peals.

The ad­di­tion of a hand­ful of new char­ac­ters – stay away from the trailer if you don’t want to know the se­cret sur­round­ing Cate Blanchett’s mys­te­ri­ous char­ac­ter – is cer­tainly a wel­come one, as are the epic fight scenes spawned by the ar­rival of Drago’s Bewil­der­beast.

Opens at Vil­lage Cin­e­mas on Thurs­day

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