Grab your dragon saddle and your raw fish - the sequel to the hugely successful Dreamworks animation 'How To Train Your Dragon' is about to hit our screens. It's a highly anticipated follow-up, so can it fly high with the original epic and much-loved 2010 hit?
Things are looking up for the village of Berk. The town has taken the dragons into their homes - literally - and is prospering for it, with Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) to thank, becoming the village hero. While exploring with his now-girlfriend Astrid (America Ferrera), the pair discover a pack of dragon thieves, who are working for a mysterious Drago Bloodfist (Djimon Hounsou), who's working to build a dragon army. When Hiccup goes to confront Drago, he instead comes across a mysterious masked rider, who he might have more in common with than he thinks.
Saying anything else about the story would give away the biggest surprises of the film. Nontheless, it's safe to say things are stepped up a notch in the sequel, but high expectations will be met. It draws strongly on the original film's themes of perseverance, friendship and respect.
SWITCH: 'HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2' TRAILER
The great news is this is easily as good as the original film. The heart, the humour and the heroism are all still firmly intact. It's fantastic to see that Dreamworks Animation have taken a great deal of time and care in crafting this sequel, and it's safe to say it's a huge success. All of the original cast and much of the original crew have returned for the sequel, ensuring the magic from the first film is captured once again.
One huge part of 'How To Train Your Dragon's' success was the beautiful sweeping scenery, particularly when rendered in 3D. 'Dragon 2' firmly upholds this legacy, and introduces us to a new icy landscape. But there's plenty more of the same stunning point-of-view shots, and it's easy to forget you're not soaring along on the back of a dragon yourself.
What I loved about the original film was its voice cast wasn't selected for its big names, but suitability for the character. The new actors - Cate Blanchett, Kit Harington and Djimon Hounsou - nicely complement the existing cast. Baruchel plays a slightly more grown-up Hiccup, still fantastically witty yet slightly more serious. Ferrera steps up as Astrid, and is nothing short of awesome in every scene. We get to see a softer side of Gerard Butler's Stoick in this film, which Butler handles nicely. The whole supporting gang (Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Kristen Wiig et al) are still a hoot, an a solid support team to Hiccup and Astrid. Yet, as with the first film, the scene-stealer and true star is Toothless. The emotion - be it joy or heartbreak - exhibited on this dragon's face tells you everything you need to know. His dedication and fondness of Hiccup is what makes every element of this film successful and believable.
The heart, the humour and the heroism are all still firmly intact.
To be honest, I could sit there all day and watch these dragons flying along at an exhilarating pace. This is a beautiful, funny, touching film set to make you laugh and cry - whether you're a child or a kid at heart. This is the kind of animation which transcends its genre; the animation is only there to bring to life a world not physically possible. You rarely get sequels this good, so revel in the return of the loveable Hiccup and his spectacular dragon.