Sunday, March 22, 2015

How To Train Your Dragon 2

How To Train Your Dragon 2 follows the original cast and crew of the original movie with a slide of five years down the timeline.

During that time Hiccup continues his role as inventor. He manufactures a sky diving suit that enables him to glide for example.

He also continues to push new barriers between himself and his father. This gives them different reasons to fight. In this instance, it's Hiccup's desire to travel, to explore, to map and know the world.

That exploration brings with it new discoveries that allow old wounds to be healed as well as inflict new ones. For the good, Hiccup meets his mother, Valka. Her design is fantastic and strange, a wild woman with advanced knowledge of the dragons.

Not only does she have knowledge of the dragons, but her heart, much like Hiccup's, is on the side of the dragons. It was this willingness to see the dragons as more than just monsters that lead her to leave his newborn son and husband in the first place.

She becomes a caretaker of injured dragons and lives in a fantastic and majestic local.

For the bad? That would be The new villain introduced this time, Drago, is a 'dragon master'. This stands in stark contrast to Hiccup who is friends with his dragon. Its an interesti

I've heard some complain that Valka suffers in that she is brought in and shown to be a powerful and knowledgeable figure in her own right only to be "punk'd" by the villain, but if she's punk'd, what about poor Hiccup's father eh?

Hiccup's father, a king, a warrior king, a warrior king whose been shown to survive previous encounters with Drago, is slain.

But people want Valka to have more agency?

The important thing to remember, is that despite the large cast of characters and the very important role some of them have, Hiccup and Toothless, still the only Night Drago, are the stars of the show. If Valka and Drago were introduced at the same time and Valka defeats Drago right off the bat, why bother introducing him? What would the point be? Drago is there for Hiccup to defeat.

How to Train Your Dragon 2 features numerous battles, great action scenes, fantastic views of aerial overland shots, and some emotional weight due to the subject matter. While probably not suitible for very young children, it's handling of the subject shouldn't be dismissed by those teens who might see it.

The alpha of this movie? The large dragon? He's hinted at before being seen, and when he does make his appearance, it's one that is a callback to the glory of the wild. When we see what Drago has done to a similar alpha? One that is of same stature and size but with manacled tusks? It's like seeing something out of the last movie of the Lord of the Rings with their specialized elephants, a massive murder machine.

And now for direct spoilers and how I look at a movie like this.

1. Contrast: The villain Drago is brought in to show a different way of "living with dragons'. He is not their friend, he is their master. He is not there to make allies, he is there to become a ruler. He can protect you from the dragons, but fail to heed him and he will crush you. There are also the visual differences. Drago is older. Drago's hair style is far different. While both Drago and Hiccup are missing limbs, Drago's is a massive metal arm while Hiccup's is a tool to mount his dragon's stirrup.

2. Design: Both Drago and Valka benefit from very interesting visual designs. It allows the viewer to quickly identify each character and allows each character to have their own 'thing'. For Valka it might be seen as 'wild woman and Drago conqueror. This is also true for the many different and new dragons introduced. Each has its own visual identification and each allows the viewer to know what they are looking at quickly.

3. Scale: Drago is an invader with a sizable force. This includes siege weapons, numerous ships, hundreds of men, and his own dragon king. The scope of the movie is far greater than the original. As your own campaigns continue to advance, are you thinking big enough? Are there enough interesting challenges going on?

4. Loss: Hiccup loses not only his father, but his dragon Toothless as well. This is a tremendous setback and a powerful reminder that not everything is supposed to be easy.

5. Symmetry:  Toothless and Hiccup are both missing limbs. Drago lost his arm to dragon fire before the movie started and it motivated him to become what he is today. Drago's alpha dragon? At the end, toothless blasts off it's left horn, on the same side that Drago is missing his real arm. These little effects can lend symmetry to the characters and further bonds them while showing their differences.

6. Advancement: Hiccup comes from a small town in an isolated part of the world. Hiccup explorers and this increases the size of the setting. As he does so, he encounters not only his mother and Drago, but also Eret. This expansion allows the setting to grow naturally. In a larger setting like the Forgotten Realms, while the setting may have dozens of supplements published, that doesn't mean the players know the setting. Bring them to places that they may not be familiar with. Take the characters to locals that their characters don't know or are only vaguely knowledgeable about.

7. Redemption: Eret starts off as a dragon trapper who sells his captured dragons to Drago. At the end of the movie, he is fighting alongside Hiccup. The transition is relatively smooth in that Drago is a cruel master to start off with, already giving Eret a scar, and Hiccup? He is a loyal friend and ally who does Eret great honor by allowing Eret to ride his father's dragon.

How To Train Your Dragon 2 has action, exploration, villains, redemption, and fantastic visuals to keep fans of dragons appeased for many viewings.