I know I said that June was going to be non-franchise (actually I think I said I was done for the month), but it became a work outing thing today so I ended up watching this film anyway. And boy was I glad I didn't give this one a skip!

Now each of the three major studios in animated films has given me at least one film that really impressed on me when I was watching it in theaters. For Disney that was The Lion King, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, Bolt and Wreck-It Ralph. For Pixar that was Finding Nemo, Up and Toy Story 3. For Dreamworks however, the only one that really struck me so far was Prince of Egypt. Dreamworks movies has slowly but steadily improved over this decade, but never so good that I actually got emotionally invested when watching.

How to train your Dragon 2 changed that. It was not only a good film. It was a great one. Did it have flaws? Yes. Are there other animated movies that I like more? Definitely. But this is the only animated film that has come out this year or last year that I can truly say I loved. It is the one I have been waiting for from Dreamworks since, well, its predecessor in 2010.

Dragon 2 takes you on a sky high, ocean deep, world-spanning emotional ride, and tells a story that is not only engaging to children, but relate-able to teenagers and especially young adults today, yet is also truly timeless and engaging. It has real dilemmas, real stakes, real characters, real life lessons and real fun. They should have retitled this film "How to train your society". The only issue I really had is that it showed a tiny bit of contempt towards Disney films. But it's not entirely unwarranted, and you do move on pretty quick, assuming you even realize what they did or what I mean (if you watched it).

Overall it is a sequel that built on its predecessor perfectly, and has a very good understanding of teenhood, poking fun at but simultaneously pondering on its naivete and its transience. It is also a film that respects the story and world that it had to inherit from the last, yet taking some serious risks along the way, which ultimately results in a satisfying experience through their increasing mastery on filmmaking.

This is really ironic because I just spent most of this month avoiding franchises for the opposite reason. But this film may have renewed my faith that perhaps there is a place for franchises in cinema, if done right. Maybe I will go watch Transformers 4, The Expendables 3 and The Hobbit 3 after all.

Sorry I know I'm a bit vague on why this film is good, but this film is a must-watch of the year. I don't want to spoil it for you (at least not in this post). Ideally you should check it out while in cinema because the visuals are stunning, might be worth even 3D if you can spare the extra few dollars. You might not appreciate the subtle details they add if you're watching it at home on a TV that is smaller than 50-inches. I'm glad I saw Dragon 2 and I trust you will be too.

9.0 / 10.0