Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, readers of all ages. As you know, I hold the 2010 film How To Train Your Dragon dear within my heart. And I know that there are many of you out there who treasure the film as well.
This as a message for everybody out there who is excited for the sequel. Because I’ve seen it. I went to an early showing – a double feature, no less. I saw the two films back to back. And so, for anybody who cares about the original film, for anybody who loves it and cherishes it as not simply a great animated film, but a strong piece of cinema history… listen to me carefully.
DO. NOT. SEE. THIS. MOVIE.
I actually believe that this film is, as I’m writing this, the worst movie I’ve ever seen in my life. Now I’ve seen a lot of bad movies. I’m sure that Hop, for one, is technically a worse movie than this. But you know what? Hop didn’t call itself Citizen Kane 2. I would tell you to stay away from this film even if it had no relation to the masterpiece that it’s predecessor is. But the fact that this film DARES to call itself a worthy successor to the first film. And perhaps even more appalling – that there are a handful of critics and reviewers who think this movie is the BETTER of the two.
I wish this was all a bad dream.
I’ll tell you what this movie is, it’s a piece of glorified FANFICTION. The writers of the first movie had no plans to make a second. So they said, ‘Hey let’s make up a story’ – which is exactly what fan fiction writers do. Actually, I’ve read fan fiction that was better than this movie. Now I’ve read some bad fan fiction, too. but there’s a difference between fanfic and film. I can read about Hiccup and Toothless making out and it’s disgusting. But I know it’s not canon. With this movie, the filmmakers are expecting us to believe that what we see happening on screen IS canon. True, there’s no interspecies romance, but there is quite a bit of shark-jumping.
Now, when I wrote my tribute to the first film, there was one thing I left out that I remembered upon seeing the film in the theater again. In order to make an epic movie, you don’t need a ton of characters, an overcomplicated plot, or a long run-time. The film is very simple and to the point, and yet it still comes across as epic.
Which is why the writers of this film thought that what it needed was a bunch of new characters and subplots. And fight scenes! Lots of fight scenes and complicated stuff going on. And to be fair, there are times when it feels like it respects the original. And then there are times when it totally doesn’t.
Now to be fair, some of the characterization isn’t entirely bad. It starts off feeling like a true sequel but it just gets worse and worse as the film goes on. It’s clear that the filmmakers are just playing to the audience. For example, I love Toothless as much as the next guy, but in this film, it seems like the writers were trying too hard to make him as cute as they possibly could. They didn’t need that in the first film.
Now let’s pause a moment. The first film has two action scenes. There was the opening raid and the final battle with the Red Death. Both of which were necessary to tell the story. But a problem with this film is that it feels like it’s just being violent for violence’s sake. Not every epic movie has to have a bunch of fighting if there’s no good reason.
Overall, this movie just feels like it was trying too hard to be more than it’s predecessor. It feels like they’re trying to be Lord Of The Rings and upping the stakes and making things more dramatic. The simple fact is, you can’t add or take away from what’s already perfect, which is a good reason why there never should have been a sequel in the first place.
I mentioned in my tribute that the original felt like something that actually could have happened. This film would be improbable by fan fiction standards. Now I cannot explain in detail why this movie scarred me so much for fear of scarring you as well, but when I left the theater, my initial reaction was to contact the manager of the theater and convince him to not play this movie anymore. That’s how much I hated it.
Now I’m not entirely sure whether or not I should talk about specifically why this movie should be avoided like the plague. On one hand, spoilers hardly seem to matter for a movie that shouldn’t be seen, but on the other hand, the less I say about this movie, the less people will be emotionally scarred, as I was.
So if you’re an HTTYD fan and you value your sanity, I highly suggest you stop reading now and try to imagine that this film doesn’t exist. But for the truly brave and truly stupid, you can read on.
Seriously… massive spoilers will start below these lines.
Okay, are you ready? Okay, here we go. Stoick dies. Now, I sort of view this like Zod’s death from Man Of Steel. It could have worked, if it was handled probably. If they ended the movie immediately after Stoick’s death than I feel it would have been stronger. But they seem to forget about it. The last time a major character died in a mainstream animated movie was Mufasa in Lion King, and that movie really hit you over the head with how much the death impacted our main character. In this movie, the death could have been cut out and you wouldn’t have missed anything.
Oh, and what’s with that moment near the end where Toothless gets that ice breath or whatever. I don’t know, I guess Toothless is turning into Elsa now. Let me tell you, this movie was hard enough to swallow by that point, but that was the moment where it officially jumped the shark.
Now, it’s a shame, because the film has some really impressive animation, good performances, and moments when it almost feels like the original. But the film’s complete disregard for what made the original so perfect and the gall it has to call itself ‘How To Train Your Dragon 2’ just made me feel destroyed inside. To make myself calm down, I was actually watching the original movie the whole time I was writing this review. I feel that If I give this film any more than 0 stars, it would be a sin. So, to all you people out there, who are HTTYD fans, stick with the original.