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How to Train Your Dragon 2 (2014)

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Dreamworks has announced that their big success story of 2010 is becoming their next franchise.

That's a heckuva lot more exciting to me than the idea of any more Shrek movies. Or, for that matter, any of the previous Shrek movies.

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Details of 'How to Train Your Dragon' Sequel Revealed

The sequel to DreamWorks Animation's hit movie How to Train Your Dragon will move beyond the small, North Sea island that was the setting of the original film as it traces the further adventures of Hiccup as he grows toward becoming the leader of his Viking clan.

Dean DeBlois, who co-directed the first film, revealed he is currently working on the second draft of the screenplay, which he expects will be at least the second film in a trilogy.

"I turned in the script before the holidays, and got some notes back and I'm working on a second draft," DeBlois, who will write and direct the sequel, told THR at Saturday's Annie Awards. "It's going to be quite epic. We are treating How To Train Your Dragon as the first act in a much larger story. As we head into this one, the world expands. Everything is much bigger with still the heartfelt qualities that made the first one resonate so much with audiences. There are no longer restrictions to this tiny island in the North Sea. They have the entire Northern hemisphere within their grasp." . . .

Hollywood Reporter, February 7

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Harington joining 'How to Train Your Dragon 2'

"Game of Thrones" star Kit Harington is coming out from behind The Wall to voice a villainous warrior in DreamWorks Animation's sequel "How to Train Your Dragon 2." . . .

Dean DeBlois, who co-wrote and co-directed the original 2010 pic with Chris Sanders, is returning to write and direct the sequel. . . .

Film franchise is based on the book series by Cressida Cowell. Original pic grossed nearly $500 million worldwide and was nominated for two Oscars, including best animated feature. Sequel is skedded for release on June 20, 2014. . . .

Variety, June 19

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Attica   

So this seems to be a trailer for the... um... trailer.

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Tyler   

So this seems to be a trailer for the... um... trailer.

 

That's pretty common these days. The new Planet of the Apes had one earlier this week.

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Attica   

Yeah.  It seems to be a growing trend.

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Character in 'How to Train Your Dragon 2' comes out as gay

Even toons are coming out of the closet. Gobber (Craig Ferguson), the right-hand man to Berk tribal chief Stoick the Vast (Gerard Butler) comes out as gay in the eagerly anticipated sequel, “How to Train Your Dragon 2.”

While watching a husband and wife squabble, Gobber explains that’s why he never got married. And then slyly adds that there’s another reason, too.

Dean DeBlois, the openly gay writer and director of the movie, told Eonline that when Ferguson was recording his lines, he ad-libbed the second reason and said, “Yup, Gobber is coming out of the closet.” DeBlois thinks it’s a, “really fun (and) daring move to put in. I love the idea that Gobber is Berk’s resident gay.” . . .

Fox News, May 18

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SDG   

Looks like I'm the cranky contrarian, again.
 

The first film related how Hiccup changed his village’s way of life forever, winning the love of the girl of his dreams, the approval of his authoritarian father and the respect of everyone in town — not to mention the loyalty of his magnificent new draconian friend, Toothless.

Where do you go from there?

Onward and outward, obviously. A bigger story, wider horizons, more characters, new revelations and, of course, more and bigger monsters. How to Train Your Dragon 2 has good ideas about where it needs to go plotwise. The problem is Hiccup himself, and how these events affect him — or rather don’t affect him.

…Hiccup never hesitates, never doubts himself. He takes bold, decisive action; he is even reckless. Does he learn any hard lessons? Realize he’s made mistakes and must live with the consequences? Stagger under the weight of daunting challenges or shocking revelations?

Not so much.

In fact, none of the established characters are obliged to change in any fundamental way. As with the Ice Age sequels, situations may change and characters may come and go, but the central characters and relationships forged in the first film have become static. Is everyone else as tired as I am of referring to the Toy Story sequels for how to do this right?

 

And, of course, I had to do this:

So, How Gay IS How To Train Your Dragon?

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For once, I'd actually like to engage you on one of your ultra-slams of an animated film, but I'm slammed myself at work and can't get into it today. Suffice to say that while I share some of your concerns, they were outweighed by things you rather briefly touched on, and only so you could dismiss the film's treatment of those things.

 

I get that not everyone will respond as I did, but yeesh, the tone of your review is so unremittingly negative that it's hard to swallow. Nice shoutout to the visuals, though. I guess one passing compliment deep into the review makes my use of "unremitting" technically incorrect.

Edited by Christian

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SDG   

For once, I'd actually like to engage you on one of your ultra-slams of an animated film, but I'm slammed myself at work and can't get into it today. Suffice to say that while I share some of your concerns, they were outweighed by things you rather briefly touched on, and only so you could dismiss the film's treatment of those things.

 

I get that not everyone will respond as I did, but yeesh, the tone of your review is so unremittingly negative that it's hard to swallow. Nice shoutout to the visuals, though. I guess one passing compliment deep into the review makes my use of "unremitting" technically incorrect.

 

Hey, I also said nice things early on about the portrayal of the more mature Hiccup (if not his development in this film) and about the overall plot strategy: 

 

How to Train Your Dragon 2 has good ideas about where it needs to go plotwise … I’m glad to see Hiccup hasn’t been resting on his laurels; he’s still learning, exploring, inventing. Packing nifty dragon-inspired inventions, soaring the skies in sleek leather duds with trusty Toothless, he’s almost a young dragon himself, as fearless as he was once diffident.

 

And my shout-out to the visuals isn't my only late compliment. I also say this: 

 

I like a remark from Stoick that he thought he’d have to die before being reunited with Valka, and a fallen character being given a cremation at sea with explicitly religious references to Valhalla and the gods of Norse mythology.

 

So, I'm not seeing this as an "ultra-slam."

 

It's a C-plus.

 

Like Frozen.

Edited by SDG

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I couldn't remember the first film, so I rewatched it on DVD and was unimpressed. (Though now I can't really remember the second viewing a week later.)

Needless to say, I didn't have high expectations, but the film sort of won me over. Every time I thought, "oh here we go" it managed to counter my expectations. Hard for me to be specific without spoilers, but I appreciated that dad seemed less of the buffoon he came across in the first film (and first 15 minutes of this film). I certainly wouldn't fault anyone for looking elsewhere, but I enjoyed it more than I expected.

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Anodos   

 

For once, I'd actually like to engage you on one of your ultra-slams of an animated film, but I'm slammed myself at work and can't get into it today. Suffice to say that while I share some of your concerns, they were outweighed by things you rather briefly touched on, and only so you could dismiss the film's treatment of those things.

 

I get that not everyone will respond as I did, but yeesh, the tone of your review is so unremittingly negative that it's hard to swallow. Nice shoutout to the visuals, though. I guess one passing compliment deep into the review makes my use of "unremitting" technically incorrect.

 

I'm not seeing this as an "ultra-slam."

 

It's a C-plus.

 

Like Frozen.

 

Have I missed something? I didn't realise SDG habitually dished up "ultra-slams" of animated films. Is that true?

FWIW, I actually think many critics go too easy on animated kids movies, which is why they often end up comparatively high on RT.

 

Anyway, I see your NCR review has at least one insightful comment:

 

 

What does a review about a movie, void of Catholic, religious content have to do with the Catholic faith?

What indeed...

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Started to respond and then remembered how many publication orders I have to send out, those errands I need to run, etc. Sorry to dump the earlier comment and run, but I can't get into this.

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SDG   

Started to respond and then remembered how many publication orders I have to send out, those errands I need to run, etc. Sorry to dump the earlier comment and run, but I can't get into this.

 

For what it's worth, Christian, based on your remarks I decided to give my review one more tune-up to do better justice to the things I liked. Here's the new ending (sans final paragraph):

 

Of course the animation is gorgeous. That’s something. The flight sequences are as exhilarating as in the original, and far more elaborate. The varied settings offer some nice atmospherics, from an immense, misty forest to the abode of a titanic, placid dragon that feels almost like a creature from a Miyazaki film.

 

I like a remark from Stoick that he thought he’d have to die before being reunited with Valka, and a fallen character being given a cremation at sea with explicitly religious references to Valhalla and the gods of Norse mythology. (On the other hand, Valka speaks of that huge dragon almost as if he were a sort of god.)

 

Comic relief from the supporting cast, including Jonah Hill and Kristen Wiig, isn’t great, but it’s good enough. Like the film as a whole: I wouldn’t call it good, but it’s good enough. I saw it with most of our kids, and it was a pleasant outing.

I also made this edit, among others:

 

Neither husband nor son needs to take time to absorb or process this: to think through the impact of her 20-year hiatus from family life, to decide how they feel about things. Stoick and Valka’s reunion is certainly a touching depiction of marital love, once you get past the cognitive dissonance of Valka’s actions. But how do you get past something like that?

Edited by SDG

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Taylor Lindsay @ Christianity Today:

 

I'll admit I was surprised that I enjoyed it, especially given Dreamworks' tendency to employ tiring tropes in almost every animated sequel. For example, in Madagascar 2, Kung Fu Panda 2, and Shrek 2, there was a tedious meet-the-parents situation that resulted in some serious revelations of the main character's "who-I-am"-ness.

 

And they do it again here, true to form. But it doesn't take over the rest of the film. These scenes are mercifully brief and, thankfully, appropriately serious. They're also colored by a sincerity that relies more on visual style than dialogue; this is true of the film as a whole, setting it apart from these other Dreamworks sequels.

 

John Nolte @ Big Hollywood:

 

Thanks to a solid story backed with a surprising (for Hollywood) theme about the terrible price of idealistic appeasement, "How to Train Your Dragon 2" will thrill kids and hold the interest of most adults. . . .

 

After stumbling across and barely escaping from Drago's dragon trappers, Hiccup defies his chieftain father under the naïve assumption he can avoid war by reasoning with Drago.

 

Hiccup's journey helps him find a piece of his past but ultimately stops nothing. War still comes but not before a tragic and unnecessary price is paid. It is the rare film nowadays where the young, idealistic peacenik is proven so wrong after defying his father.

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I wanted to come back specifically to address Anodos' concern over my use of "ultra-slam" to describe Steven's reviews of unnamed animated films. I think that when Steven goes after a film, the film usually deserves it. By "ultra-slam" here, I was thinking specifically of his Frozen review, which I read on opening day and perhaps should revisit, having no memory of it being a C+ review. But perhaps my memory is colored by the repeated attempts he made -- and these may have been more on social media, not at A&F -- to draw attention to his criticisms as the film went from instant-hit to phenomenon to All Time Best Grossing Animated Film (or something like that). I got the sense that Steven felt like he was fighting a lonely battle, and so he kept raising his arguments in various forums, and, if memory serves, pointing back to his review. So, perhaps his review isn't an "ultra-slam" and shouldn't be characterized as such. The "ultra" better refers to my perception of an ongoing campaign to be heard above the noise of crazed audiences seeing the film repeatedly, the soundtrack topping the Billboard charts -- the whole inescapable Frozen phenomenon.

 

When I read SDG's review of How to Train Your Dragon 2, which is sure to be a hit, if likely not on the scale of Frozen, I got the sense that we were looking at the beginning of another lonely campaign against the film. That was probably driven in large part not by the review itself, but by Steven's comment above in this thread: "Looks like I'm the cranky contrarian, again"

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And, of course, I had to do this:

So, How Gay IS How To Train Your Dragon?

 

As I've thought through my own responses to the whole Gobber non-controversy, I've been pondering a question that I haven't really seen addressed. 

 

If

Gobber's line about there being "another reason" he didn't get married is meant as a winking reference to the character's sexual orientation, does that not also imply that his culture forbids gay marriage?That being the case, is he in the closet, or is Viking land populated by those who tolerate gay people so long as they don't get married? Clearly there is no stigma attached to him and he is not ostracized in any way...so if people know and don't care, why can't he get married. And if he nobody knows, then isn't the film reinforcing that this is non-normative and should be hidden? Just as certain passages in Star Wars franchise seem to indicate that new developments were added without consideration of previous film, so too this shows that simply dropping a line in, even for a minor character, has implications not just for what comes after but what has gone before.

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SDG   

Ken, why the spoiler tags? Surely there's no spoiler here. 

 

If we must flesh out the presumptive sociology of the line, the most reasonable interpretation is that, whatever the Viking attitudes toward homoeroticism, they only have traditional marriage. Thus, Gobber's "one other reason" is that he's not interested in the kind of marriage on offer, and the kind of "marriage" he would be interested hasn't been invented or accepted yet. 

 

This does not amount to a tacit endorsement of traditional marriage. Viking culture is still very primitive and unenlightened—after all, the Vikings of Berk have only just gotten over anti-draconian prejudice. Give them time. 

Edited by SDG

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Can't recall ever being chastised for being too circumspect with spoilers tags. A guy can't win.

 

Anyhow, I'm less interested in the internal implications/world building affecting Gobber's sexual orientation as the the seeming obliviousness of the artists to the real world implications. DuBois said, " I think it’s nice. It’s progressive, it’s honest, and it feels good, so we wanted to keep it."

Really? A message that being gay means you can't get married is progressive and "[feel] good." I dunno, maybe technically its more progressive than having a gay character ostracized or demonized, but the writer himself indicates he didn't think much through the implications: "It does make for an interesting revelation because now, what does that mean, do we shed a little more light on Gobber’s love life?”" The fact that the answer to that question is so clearly "no," that Gobber's love life (unlike the married hetero couple) cannot be depicted, only obscurely hinted at is viewed in a self-congratulatory way as being bold and progressive strikes me as a sales job for one demographic. 

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SDG   

I hope you're just kidding about being "chastised," Ken.

I think what's "progressive" is not the implication of this line for the diegetic world of Berk, but precisely the extra-diegetic implication that in our day and age you can a) put a line like this in a major animated family film and b.) do pre-release press publicizing the line, its origins and its intended interpretation. Not many years ago that would have seemed unthinkable.

As for the diegetic implications, hell, Berk could be against gay marriage and still be as progressive as Barack Obama circa 2008. Isn't that progressive enough for a bunch of medieval Vikings?

Edited by SDG

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