Dean DeBlois

How to Train Your Dragon 2

2010’s How to Train Your Dragon threatened to be a rather conventional secret-pet kids’ flick, but for several reasons — the undeniably cute creature at its center, John Powell’s rousing score, genuinely immersive 3D flying sequences and an ending with unexpected emotional heft — it managed to be both a pleasant surprise and a financial success. Shocking as it sounds, DreamWorks Animation went ahead with not just a sequel but the middle chapter in a newly fashioned trilogy, inventively titled How to Train Your Dragon 2. We return to the island of Berk five years after its Viking occupants have learned to tame the local dragon population following decades of mutual destruction. Rather than heeding advice from aging father Stoick (voiced by Gerard Butler) on leading his kingdom when the time comes, 20-year-old inventor and preeminent dragon trainer Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) has left responsibility behind in order to explore the farthest reaches of the horizon aboard his preferred means of transportation, Toothless. However, these expeditions soon lead to encounters with a pair of heretofore unknown dragon masters, Valka (Cate Blanchett) and Drago (Djimon Hounsou), each with their own plans for the creatures. The result is plenty colorful and amusing enough, but in contrast to the film’s admirably simple charms involving a codependent companionship built on fear and trust, writer/director Dean DeBlois ladles on the usual sequel mentality. There are more characters, more beasts, more battles, more gadgets and more family-minded developments, and yet none of those elements carry quite the […]

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There’s no secret that the certified sub-sections of “best picture” are not only somewhat backhanded, they’re getting increasingly more robbed of any shred of surprise at who the potential winner is as the Academy expands the number of films qualifying for the biggest prize. Increasing the number of nominees to ten whilst retaining the sub-categories of, generally, the same award (best animated *film*, best foreign *film*, best documentary *film*…) seems nearly needless; especially in this particular category because Pixar has removed any degree of competitiveness the past two years.

It isn’t because Pixar has a stronghold on the award of Best Animated Film itself (despite their current 4 for 6 record and running on 3 consecutive), but mainly because now that the Best Picture category has been extended to 10 films they’re more likely to have already announced the winner of a sub-category film by having announced the nomination of one (and only one) of the sub-category films in the larger category.

It is still nice to see as many films as possible get deserved recognition even though there’s about as close to a guarantee that they will lose as can possibly be without actually being able to guarantee a guarantee. Though, assuming the illogical can actually occur it would be interesting to see the black hole in the Oscarverse that would develop if Toy Story 3 is not announced as the victor.

As such, the Winner and two “Waydagoers” are…

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