Jo Wylie ’16 / Emertainment Monthly
This month, the new How To Train Your Dragon 2 trailer flew onto our screens, the first sighting of the sequel after the teaser released five months ago.
The trailer starts by showing us the strange dragon-Viking bromance audiences fell in love with in the first How To Train Your Dragon. Toothless’ antics and Hiccup’s (Jay Baruchel) snark are on full tilt for this short clip, which shows the duo play-fighting and messing about. DreamWorks wants very much to reassure viewers that the interactions between these two characters have not been left by the wayside.
This becomes an important point, as the rest of the trailer quickly nosedives in and shows us how very much bigger the scope of How To Train Your Dragon 2 is, compared to the last film. Although number one certainly didn’t feel small when we were watching it, How To Train Your Dragon 2 is promising a bigger setting, cast of characters, and general plot.
Hiccup’s world has been expanded, both in tone and in size. With Hiccup’s recognizable voiceover from the previous movie–“This is Berk,” and so on–we get some quick glances of what Berk has become. The choice to show the hometown on one of those supposedly rare summery days is no mistake, and neither is the plethora of color that has been added to the setting. The whole town seems done up in bright reds and greens, and the dragons and their riders are now painted in bright, multi-colored war paint, joking and racing around the village.
As well as this colorful tone, the basic size of the world Hiccup and his village habituates has been expanded. Hiccup promises that, “With Vikings on the backs of dragons, the world just got a whole lot bigger,” and the movie website promises that in this movie, Hiccup and Toothless will be “charting unmapped territories and exploring new worlds.” This is undoubtedly where we discover the grey, burnt out forest that Hiccup encounters next in the trailer. It’s also where he runs into someone that appears to have been the ACTUAL first Viking to ride dragons – a mysterious woman, whose identity is revealed in the trailer. DreamWorks’s decision to reveal what could have been a pretty big bombshell in the first trailer seems like a strange one, but perhaps it hints that there are even greater, more exciting reveals to be had in the film.
In the meantime, this new character–revealed to be called “Valka” (Cate Blanchett) at comic-con, though remaining unnamed in the trailer–opens the doors into even more of that bright new world How To Train Your Dragon Two is promising us. Valka has been saving dragons from traps, and has tamed a whole colony of them. Bigger, brighter, and more abundant than the cast of dragons we’ve already seen, Valka’s colony looks to be bringing in a whole collection of exciting dragons.
There is the question of from whom Valka is saving these dragons. The expansion of scope has brought to Berk a whole new villain – an army of what appears to be enemy Vikings. All grey and black, compared to Berk’s new bright colors, very little is revealed about these enemies in the trailer, except that there are a lot of them, they are more technologically advanced, with war machines and metal traps, and they maybe have tame dragons. Although the first shot featuring this enemy has dark dragons flying in the background, the shot of the whole army has a telling lack, implying that one of the two shots might be a misdirect. The villain’s dramatic voice over, promising, “The dragons are mine,” could mean anything, from his desire to force them into labor of some kind to killing them all.
As the tempo of the trailer picks up, Stoic (Gerard Butler) tells Hiccup that saving his people is his destiny, and Astrid tells him that what he is searching for is in here. Both are lines we’ve heard before, and imply that Hiccup is going to go through the usual angsty heroic development.
This trailer does throw up the question of what Hiccup’s journey is going to look like in this film. The Hiccup that ensnared audiences in 2010 was a gangly, awkward underdog, fighting to prove himself and his ideas to his own tribe and father. That gangly kid has made an extremely noticeable physical change, to an attractive teen–or even young adult–that had fans blown away on his first reveal in the teaser.
Now it would appear Hiccup has made a pretty big character change, too. He’s leading his tribe against an enemy invasion – not a plot that allows for much ‘underdog’ action. Some fans are already complaining that the film has lost its goofiness, despite DreamWorks’s tacit reassurances, in the form of Hiccup and Toothless’ playing and the snapshots of Berk life.
The trailer finishes with a final little moment from the scene that opened it, Hiccup and Toothless continuing their antics, but that doesn’t halt some of the questions we still have. How will the bigger scope affect the tone of How To Train Your Dragon? What secrets are we yet to learn about Hiccup’s mom? What more can we expect from this bright, exciting update to the movie?
One small, final, question we do have is regarding the title–one would argue that we have already learnt how to train our dragon. Although Valka seems to teach Hiccup a few new points, it certainly doesn’t appear to be a main plot point. More innovative, exciting titles might have been something along the lines of, “How to use your dragon to fight off an invasion,” or, “How to have been destined to train dragons all along but somehow missed it completely the entire first film.” Eh, we’re just spitballing.
These questions are far from off-putting, however. Although sporting a few odd choices and unanswered questions, the trailer is a good mix of goof and tension, much the same as the first movie, and is keeping fans avidly looking, hawkeyed–er, dragon eyed, that is–towards to the newest installment.