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How-to-train-your-dragon-2-movie-review-jay-baruchel-cate-blanchett
DreamWorks Animation

MOVIE REVIEW
How To Train Your Dragon 2 (2014)

“How to Train Your Dragon 2” drifts even further away from Cressida Cowell’s book series: Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel) and friends have grown up, while Vikings and dragons coexist peacefully in Berk. Valka (Cate Blanchett) — long presumed dead after giving birth to Hiccup — turns out to be some reclusive conservationist jungle woman. Meanwhile, renegade Drago Bludvist (Djimon Hounsou) has been assembling a dragon army to wage war on Berk.

DreamWorks Animation — now celebrating its 20th year per its logo — has established a reputation for catering to the chaperone demographic with pop-culture-laden wisecracks. “How to Train Your Dragon 2” feels a lot less flippant compared with the bulk of the DWA canon, but it’s no less adult. The melodrama of the mother-son-father reunion approaches the cringeworthiness of daytime soap.

More alarming are the regressive messages about gender and race the film subliminally projects. Valka’s calling in life is apparently irreconcilable with motherhood, which makes her an irresponsible parent. Her husband, Stoick the Vast (Gerard Butler), resorts to serenading her in a bid to thrust her back into a life of domesticity. While nothing in the screenplay explicitly states Drago Bludvist’s racial background, the animation and the voice casting certainly invite kids who don’t know better to stereotype. It’s true that the villain in “The Lion King” came off as gay, but that was also two decades ago.

HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2

Opens on June 13 in the United States and on July 11 in Britain.

Written and directed by Dean DeBlois; character animation by Simon Otto; production design by Pierre Olivier Vincent; produced by Bonnie Arnold; released by 20th Century Fox and DreamWorks Animation. Running time: 1 hour 41 minutes. This film is rated PG.

WITH THE VOICES OF: Jay Baruchel (Hiccup), Cate Blanchett (Valka), Gerard Butler (Stoick the Vast), Craig Ferguson (Gobber), America Ferrera (Astrid), Jonah Hill (Snotlout), Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Fishlegs), T. J. Miller (Tuffnut), Kristen Wiig (Ruffnut), Djimon Hounsou (Drago Bludvist) and Kit Harington (Eret, Son of Eret).

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