how-to-train-your-dragon-2-poster1-690x1024Hiccup is five years older, and as he approaches manhood his animators have cleverly aged him half a decade on screen as well. But we are still on Berk Island, which begins in bliss with a soaring, ecstatic flight sequence that makes for a great introductory thrill ride, while also setting the scene: humans and dragons now not only co-exist, they live and thrive together. Paradise, of course, never lasts, and when the good times end, it’s up to Hiccup and his pals (and of course his dragon buddy Toothless) to save the world. If the sequel gets a little too entangled in “parental issues” — here not just disobeying one’s father, but (surprise!) matters involving Mom as well — there are plenty of fresh dazzlers just ahead: massive “alpha dragons”, sweeping crowd scenes, and several literally touching moments, where human-to human and human-to-dragon contact touches us. John Powell’s rapturous, Irish-inflected orchestral score contributes to the emotional intensity big-time. And Jay Baruchel, so good at playing winsome dorks, is once more the perfect voice for our young hero. One parental caution: there is a serious plot turn that, were I, say, 7 or 8, would have upset and stayed with me. To the movie’s credit, the tragedy stands despite DRAGON’s overall happy ending. — Jeff Schultz


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