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How to Train Your Dragon 2

Nominated for Best Animated Feature at the 87th Annual Academy Awards

Yeah, I enjoyed this. It was an arctic cold Friday night by the fireplace, with my 9 and 7-year-old boys, and we had a lot of fun with the latest adventures of Hiccup the Viking and Toothless the Dragon (a little microwave popcorn and hot chocolate with whipped cream didn’t hurt either). This is the current favorite to win the Best Animated Feature Oscar–and I guess I’m alright with that. My take on the highly praised animated films I’ve experienced from 2014? I’m in the tiny (it seems) group that’s okay with the overly kinetic “The Lego Movie” not being nominated for the top award. Also, I’m much more enchanted with “The Boxtrolls”, than I am with “How to Train Your Dragon 2”. I’ve yet to experience “Big Hero 6”, and “The Tale of Princess Kaguya” arrives in the mail later today. “Song of the Sea” will have to wait until March.

But writer/director Dean DeBlois has managed to enrich and enhance the already fine work he turned in with DreamWorks 2010 “How to Train Your Dragon” movie. There’s real emotion here in Part 2, consistent surprises, exciting action, sharp dialogue, and some incredible voice work from Jay Baruchel (Hiccup), Cate Blanchett (Valka), and Gerard Butler (Stoick the Vast). I couldn’t help but feel a little too familiar with the material, and at times I found it being a bit formulaic in its handling of certain plot details. But it always managed to recover from its deficiencies, and it remained consistently charming. Besides, wouldn’t it be nice to see the Disney machine lose for a change? I mean, maybe I’ll really love “Big Hero 6”, but I’m still smarting from the bludgeoning of 2013’s billion dollar-grossing “Frozen”. So, c’mon Toothless and Hiccup–fly!

Grade:  B

next review up:  “Virunga”

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