How to Train Your Dragon 2 Digital Download Review: Here Be Dragons

Fans of Hiccup and his adorable dragon Toothless will be delighted to learn that their second feature, How to Train Your Dragon 2, is now available as a digital download. The Blu-ray/DVD will be released next week, November 11th. This is a review of the digital version of the film, which viewers may be surprised to learn also includes some great bonus features usually reserved just for Blu-ray and DVD.

The original DreamWorks Animation film, How to Train Your Dragon (2010), was based on the popular series of books by Cressida Cowell. It was not only a financial success, but was also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature and Best Original Score. The film followed the adventures of the quirky outsider Hiccup (Jay Baruchel), a young boy struggling to find his place in Viking society. A disappointment to his father, Viking chief Stoick (Gerard Butler), Hiccup meets and befriends a young black Night Fury dragon, who he names Toothless, and the two join forces to teach the Vikings and the dragons how to live together harmoniously.

Between the release of How to Train Your Dragon and its sequel, DreamWorks Animation offered DreamWorks Dragons, an entertaining animated television series that followed Hiccup, Toothless, and their human and dragon friends as they went on new adventures while continuing to try to live peacefully together. This second film, directed by Dean DeBlois, finds a now older, teenage Hiccup living in an idyllic Berk – that is idyllic until a group of dragon hunters, led by Eret (Kit Harington), who answers to the very evil Drago (Djimon Hounsou), show up and disrupt their peaceful world. Hiccup and Co. aren’t only caught in a standard good guys vs. bad guys plot, however, but must also save some endangered dragons – who just happen to be championed by Hiccup’s long-lost mother and pro-dragon vigilante, Valka (Cate Blanchett).

The animation on How to Train Your Dragon 2 is visually stunning. Director DeBlois and his production team researched real-life locations and backgrounds of Norwegian locations including Oslo, Bergen, and Svalbard, and it shows – another level of beauty and realism is brought to the animated world of Berk. The characters in Dragon 2 are all extremely likable too, and voiced by some very engaging actors, including Jonah Hill, America Ferrara, Kristen Wiig, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse.

The digital download version looks amazing on a large-scale high-definition television screen, with images brightly colored, blacks rich, and edges sharply-etched. The aspect ratio is 2.35:1. Scene selection is available. The film has an approximate total running time of 102 minutes, and there are about two hours worth of extras, including:

  • A short from the DreamWorks Dragons television animated series, “Dawn of the Dragon Racers”
  • “Berk’s Dragon World” featurette
  • “Where No One Goes, The Making of How to Train Your Dragon 2” featurette
  • Film commentary by director Dean DeBlois
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Behind-the-scenes shorts – “Fishleg’s Dragon Stats,” “Drago’s War Machines,” “Hiccup’s Inventions in Flight”
  • Deleted scenes – introduced and explained by director Dean DeBlois
  • Stills Gallery – with an option to run a slideshow

Hiccup and Toothless are still a great team, and Toothless has got to be the cutest dragon in film history. New dragon species introduced in the sequel are both fun and even, in some cases, beautiful to behold. Hiccup and his friends have grown up quite a bit, physically and emotionally, since the first film, and How To Train Your Dragon 2 is a nice middle chapter in their story. Fans will be happy to hear that a third film is already being planned, also to be directed and written by DeBlois, for a summer 2017 release.

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Elizabeth Periale

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